DIY Cannabis Cultivation App ‘WeGrow’ Wants To Bring Flower To The People

medicalmarijuana May 23, 2017 Comments Off on DIY Cannabis Cultivation App ‘WeGrow’ Wants To Bring Flower To The People
DIY Cannabis Cultivation App ‘WeGrow’ Wants To Bring Flower To The People

In many states, legal opportunities to possess cannabis have well preceded any practical ones, as local officials continue struggling to get infrastructure in place (dispensaries included). And while some states may currently seem resigned to parking on the grass, as it were, the makers of a new weeducational app for iOS want to bring cannabis consumers into the field of production instead.

With roots in California and Colorado, WeGrow is a free app designed to help new and experienced cannabis-growers cultivate their own plants, as well as share their expertise. Combining AI-powered assistance with crowd-sourced input and coursework, the platform also aims to put more control over cannabis back in the hands of those that consume it, particularly in light of the industry’s fluctuating laws and arguably too-high prices.

By phone, founder Mason Levy explained that his time in the Boulder, CO startup scene and his research on medicinal cannabis left him seeking a solution for an all-too-common lack of education around the plant, including how to grow it yourself. “I met cannabis on the patient side, where people tend to be older and managing multiple chronic conditions, and using [the plant] as a supplementary method to other care,” he said. “But the more I read, the more amazed I was with its benefits and ease of use, and the more I wondered, why aren’t people growing it more?”

One major reason for the lack of DIY cannabis operations, according to Levy, is the lack of consistent, accessible growing information online or elsewhere. “Even if you’re able to learn how to grow, you’re still ending up on sites rooted in the black market,” he said. “Growing cannabis can also be an intimidating and confusing process to set up, let alone be successful at.”

To address this fairly widespread unawareness, Levy and his team chose to create a “milestone-based engagement engine” that’s well suited for to task of plant-growing but adaptable for just about any area of self-managed education, according to Levy. The WeGrow crew also decided to bring in artificial intelligence in the form of a ELLE, a chatbot, to answer users’ cultivation questions (hence the name of the startup’s holding company, Education Bot).

At present, WeGrow lets users browse and submit information on growing their cannabis crops, connect with other cannthusiasts, and even hone their green thumbs in share-able, tour-able virtual grow rooms. In the future, Levy said, he hopes to expand their digital education model to other areas where a little self-sufficiency could make a big impact.

“We’re working on education models for edibles and other products, and talking to people in the craft beer industry about how they teach people to craft their own beer, to help give people the best ways to learn skills in and around cannabis,” he said. “But the larger vision is to bring that model to a variety of topics like consumer and consumable gardening, as well as the healthcare and wellness space, yoga, even home automation.”

“The ultimate goal would be to open it up to communities, and help them to crowd-source different information on educational topics that matter to them,” he said. “For example, a small community in Texas could grow its own medicine and even food, and a teaching platform is a really powerful way to help them do that.”

WeGrow currently provides instructions and tips from its own in-house growing experiments, a roster of experienced cultivators, and fellow users. In the future, the team hopes to expand the reach of its expert sources, and to include instruction for outdoor operations along with the indoor setups it describes. The company also has interest in pursuing eco-friendly expertise and recommendations for its users, who can purchase a limited number of grow-op equipment packages through the platform, and plans to reinvest some of its profits in the hard-won industry and environment upon which it relies.

And for the record, the developers don’t plan to pilfer users’ personal info in the course of their cannabis education. “We’re collecting data on how people talk about growing cannabis so as to improve our AI, and definitely want to utilize data to make the user experience better, but don’t need to know details–beyond, say, the fact that someone is growing in soil,” Levy explained. “As we collect info on how people talk about cannabis, we’ll be able to plug that data into learning algorithms, or smart assistants, that can then help growers with their projects, and maybe tell you if your front plants look good, but the back row could use trimming,” he said.

Overall, Levy said, he and his team hope to “democratize cannabis” by helping patients and users to grow their own cheap, safe, effective medicine, even as Washington and Big Pharma work strenuously around it. And given the alternatives, democracy seems like a pretty good goal–in the cannabis industry, in the app world, or in general.

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