The Logistics of Marijuana

Medical marijuana is already legal in 23 states and counting.  While Ultra doesn’t take a particular position for or against the trend,  the recent wholesale legalization of recreational pot in Washington State and Colorado has us reading the writing  on the wall.  Despite the best efforts of anti-legalization forces, the dominoes are set up to fall (excluding of course, Dominos Pizzerias which will likely see a record spike in business).  Expect more states to succumb to the lure of tax revenues generated by the sale of marijuana.  The resulting boom in pot growing and distribution will have definite ramifications for transportation companies in 2015 and beyond.  Here are three things the transportation and logistics IT industry already does well; and which will be repurposed to accommodate the imminent flood of new, marijuana industry-driven shipping business.

Accommodating the variable nature of agricultural production/shipping
Food and beverage producers and their transportation plans are heavily influenced by climates, growing seasons, crop yields, etc.  Wine producers, fruit and vegetable growers, dairy producers and many other food and beverage industry organizations rely on tools like TMS and optimizers to ensure there is capacity available at peak times to bring the harvest from the field to production facilities.  They also leverage these tools to make sure their perishable product is kept fresh and delivered quickly and efficiently.  Many of the same agricultural constraints presently addressed by TMS and optimizers will be required to effectively transport marijuana.

Compliance with regulatory constraints
Similar to shippers moving pharmaceuticals or other controlled substances, such as alcohol, tobacco or firearms, across state lines, there are stringent regulations in place governing these kinds of loads.  It is safe to assume that as different states wade into the pot legalization waters, there will emerge a growing patchwork of state laws and regulations which may impact on how shippers may move weed across state lines as well.  A TMS and optimization engine will be critical to ensuring that all moves are planned, executed and logged in accordance with what promises to be a shifting and complicated regulatory landscape.

High value loads
As is always the case with high value loads, theft and other criminal activity is always a threat.   Keeping close tabs on the whereabouts of every load becomes a more urgent concern.  In addition, contemporary yard management tools like UltraYMS allow yard workers at DCs to log photos of loads as they are sealed, as they leave the dock and as they depart the gate.  This helps protect against theft during transport.

We may be witnessing the birth of what promises to quickly grow into a multi-billion dollar industry commensurate with the alcoholic beverage industry or the tobacco industry in terms of size and scope.  The transportation and logistics IT industry is up to the challenge of serving this new industry.

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