As cannabis continues to transition from illicit back alley business to big business, an ever-expanding world of cannabis products are emerging to fit the increased legal demand - even if they have nothing to do with physical cannabis. Without touching a single bud, one father-son duo created Potbot, an app to pair medical marijuana patients with the specific medicine that will best serve their ailments.
In an attempt to bring professional medical experience to cannabis users across the spectrum, Potbot acts as a middleman between a recommending doctor and local budtender. When first opened, Potbot asks users for basic personal information like age, weight and cannabis experience to create a profile. Once a profile has been established, the app goes more in-depth, and patients are asked to check-off medical conditions and then desired effects. To match patients with their perfect strain, the app uses artificial intelligence to scour medical journals for information about specific cannabinoids and their effects, matches those to strains, and gives a host of suggestions for each patient’s conditions.
For David Goldstein, Potbotics CEO, the idea for the app came after a family member got sick, but was skeptical of marijuana as medicine because of its stoner connotations and lack of medical focus.
"She refused to get this medicine because she felt it wasn't a professional experience," Goldstein told CNBC. "There are great applications like Leafly and Weedmaps. We didn't feel like there was something that helps hit that medical patient."
David’s father, Baruch Goldstein, holds a PHD in math and had already used his academic experience to link AI and medicine in a project that, much like Potbot, matched pre-Alzheimer’s patients with medicinal botanicals. Still, the elder Goldstein was not immediately convinced that the cannabis market was the right place for his talents.
"It was a little bit of an uphill battle convincing him, but he met some of the medical marijuana patients I introduced him too," the younger Goldstein said. "He realized if you take a real medical approach it was the same."
Because the company doesn’t deal with any physical cannabis, investors have been happy to hop on board the fully legal startup, giving $5 million in funding to the upstart WebMD for weed.
"We definitely see there's interest in the industry, for sure," Goldstein said. "It's one that has real potential in the United States and internationally. A lot of investors like non-cannabis touching entities, because they feel like they are hedging their bets a little bit."
Potbot has a database of over 30,000 strains to recommend and is currently available on the iTunes app store and Google Play.