Big cannabis: Technology helping to clear the way for weed’s growth

Technology has been aiding the growth of cannabis for a long time, but with attitudes to its medical use around the world changing, it now offers more potential than ever before.

It’s possible that the drug could create a new breed of medical cannabis entrepreneurs who look to sell it for medical uses in a variety of ways.

One of these has already started an app to allow patients to be consulted for treatment with marijuana.

In the US, legal sales of the drug are predicted to top $2.3bn this year – up more than a billion dollars compared to 2013.

This will be greatly aided by the US House of Representatives voting to allow individual states in the country to rule on medical cannabis use on their own.

Barack Obama also said in an interview that he believes cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol.

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A glimpse into the rapid growth of medical cannabis can clearly be seen from the ambitious number of projects that are looking to secure their futures on crowdfunding websites.

One of these is trying to raise $100,000 to fund a marijuana doctor service that gives consultations and recommendations without you ever having to leave you home – via a smartphone, tablet or even on the web.

The connection, from AbacaRx, is also encrypted.

It’s campaign page explains: “Due to the stigma attached to medical marijuana, people often feel uncomfortable talking to their family doctor, and therefore, don’t get the medical consultation they seek.”

It allows users of the drug, for medical purposes, to get consultations on their usage. It involves a 15 minute doctor consultation with board-certified doctors, who provide an assessment and decide if you should be recommended medical marijuana.

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One company that is benefitting from the drug’s popularity as a medical tool is Cannabis Science.

It says the financial environment has grown massively since 2009 when it was founded and that legal and social developments have also been favourable.

Earlier this year it successfully raised capital which shows the potential scope for the drug to be used in a medical sense.

Robert Kane, CFO of Cannabis Science said: “Cannabis Science is in the strongest financial position in the Company’s history.

“With a positive cash position after the successful capital raise earlier this year, the Company has the ability to conduct basic science research and to begin new cannabis-drug development programs.

In fact, this has begun and our development team is analyzing proprietary data right now.”


Image two courtesy of Abacarx 


Researchers develop technology for fuzzy invisibility cloaks

A method of making objects appear to vanish when placed behind frosted glass or a similar light-scattering material has been developed by scientists at the KIT Institute of Applied Physics in Germany.

True invisibility cloaks, which completely hide a person or object in normal light, are not impossible, but only work in very specific situations, meaning the Harry Potter invisibility cloak that could hide Ron, Harry and Hermione as they snuck round Hogwarts would not be possible to make.

“Ideal optical invisibility cloaks in air have a drawback,” explained KIT Institute of Applied Physics researcher Martin Wegener.

“They violate Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that prescribes an upper limit for the speed of light. In diffuse media, in which light is scattered several times, however, the effective speed of light is reduced. Here, ideal invisibility cloaks can be realised.”

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The technology takes advantage of how materials such as fog or frosted glass scatter light instead of letting it move in lines as normal.

“This property of light-scattering media can be used to hide objects inside,” said study author Robert Schittny. “The new invisibility cloaks have a rather simple structure.”

To demonstrate the technology, the researchers filled a narrow Plexiglas tank with foggy white liquid and lit it from behind, meaning light could shine through to the wall beyond but would be diffused.

Test objects – metal cylinders – placed in the tank initially were visible as shadows on the wall, showing that nothing was making them invisible.

However, when the researchers coated the cylinders in a special white paint that is designed to disperse light and then added a silicon shell embedded with light-scattering particles, the cylinders no longer cast a shadow.

“Disappearance of the shadow indicates successful cloaking,” explained Schittny.

This approach worked because the special shell diffused light faster than the white water, meaning the light simply passed around the cylinders.

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The technology will need considerable development before it makes its way into real-world scenarios, with one of the most likely uses being for hidden security.

“With the help of the principle found, it might be possible to produce frosted glass panes for bathrooms with integrated metal bars or sensors against burglary. These sensors or bars would be invisible from the inside and outside,” Schittny explained.

This solution could also be applied to high end retail and lifestyle venues, where aesthetics need to go hand-in-hand with security.

Whether we’ll ever see this as a cloak for people, however, remains to be seen. It is probably unlikely that it will ever be developed for this purpose unless there is an immediate financial benefit, so unless one of the world’s armies takes it on board, we could be waiting for a long while yet to see (or possibly not see) invisibility cloaks in our day-to-day lives.


Featured image: screenshot from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare; first body image: screenshot from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Second body image courtesy of R Schittny / KIT.