Canada is about to undergo a massive shift as it becomes the first G7 nation to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
The country’s upcoming cannabis law is creating space for new industries across the country.
Cannvas MedTech is one example. The Toronto and Vancouver-based startup aims to position itself as the world’s authority on cannabis knowledge. It’s doing this by building a state of the art website, called Cannvas.me,that explains the ins-and-outs of cannabis.
Even with legalization just around the corner, there’s still a negative stigma surrounding the drug. This has made it hard for people to talk about marijuana publicly, as well as difficult to learn about the plant’s various medical effects.
“We didn’t create a business need, we saw a gap and we filled it.”
That said, the walls around cannabis have started to come down since the plan to legalize the drug began picking up steam during Canada’s last federal election. As it stands right now, however, accurate information about cannabis is difficult to find.
That’s where Cannvas wants to step in. The company’s focus is on making it easier for people to learn about the plant through the online education platform, Cannvas.me. At its heart, the website is meant to be educational and aims to help people make informed decisions about the substance.
If cannabis is legal in the user’s country, the site will offer additional perks too.
How the company was founded
Shawn Moniz, the company’s CEO, helped found Cannvas after his first attempt to learn about marijuana online turned out less informative than he expected.
“It started with a conversation I was having with my father. He suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. He was asking me, ‘What’s this big noise in the cannabis space? Is this something I should be looking into?’” said Moniz.
Moniz’s father was “tired of seeing seven or eight pill bottles greeting him for breakfast every morning.”
While they were able to find a lot of information online, Moniz had trouble verifying its credibility.
“How do you determine Whether or not cannabis is right for you?”
Reading user comments on message boards and new articles are helpful for casual use, but when you’re relying on the plant to help with medical issues, you need to have scientific information that’s verified.
There are some sites that have a wealth of information, but they almost always lead back to a licensed cannabis producer (LP), making it impossible to tell if the information is biased, or just elaborate marketing material.
Moniz has been working in the tech space for the past 15 years. He spent the last five at a pharma-centric health agency, and he views his move to the cannabis industry as the next logical step in his career.
What is Cannvas MedTech
The company began working on Cannvas.me about a year-and-a-half ago. After all that work the site is slated to launch in the summer of 2018.
Think of it as a place to learn about cannabis on different levels. There’s information for casual users, medical users and people in between, said Moniz. All of this knowledge will be targeted at users since machine learning tailors the site to their specific preferences, familiarity with marijuana and more. Making the site adapt to each user is why the team decided on a .me web-address.
The medical base is the main section of the site, with all of the medicinal information in this section going through the company’s board of doctors.
The medical advisory board consists of a four of doctors from across North America that verify the information Cannvas’ team gathers. This approach requires the team to only use empirical evidence that’s “non-biased or skewed, [so] it’s informative and education-based,” claims Moniz. The company is also expanding to try and get more doctors from Europe and South America on the board.
Moniz says the board is able to work in another way as well. They’re “a direct line between the patients they’re seeing or people that are asking questions. Then they come back to us and say, ‘Hey, this is what people are asking for; this is what they want to learn about.’”
“The platform is built on a global scale. Whether or not cannabis is legal in the specific area that you’re in, it doesn’t make a difference to us. Everybody needs to start with education.”
Users can expect to learn facts as simple as the differences between marijuana and hemp, to more advanced topics such as how different patients should ingest cannabis.
“We didn’t create a business need, we saw a gap and we filled it,” said Moniz.
Moniz is eager to highlight that Cannvas.me is a place to learn, allowing users to take information to their doctor and have a knowledgeable conversation where both parties are informed going into the meeting.
“The platform is built on a global scale. Whether or not cannabis is legal in the specific area that you’re in, it doesn’t make a difference to us. Everybody needs to start with education,” said Moniz.
“We have different tools and feature sets that will appear in places where it’s legal, but if you’re in a place where it’s not legal, those tools won’t appear,” Moniz elaborated.
“If it’s legal you can find a dispensary nearby. If it’s in Canada, we can tell you about the different LPs.”
Cannvas will even teach people how to get medical marijuana covered by their insurance provider. The company also plans to launch a sub-site called Cannvas.pet at a later date, that aims to teach people about marijuana’s medical effects on animals.
All of this information is going to be put through Cannvas’ data layer called, Cannvas Data. The data layer uses machine learning to recommend specific content on Cannvas.me to users based on their past use of the website.
As it stands right now, the company behind Cannvas earns revenue from its in-house creative agency, which has clients in a variety of markets, ranging from big oil to smaller startups. Cannvas’ data insights and various consumer market reports are also making money for the company, it says.
Why this is important
This information and the fact that the site can be pared down to a simple knowledge base is an important part of Cannvas’ strategy. The company wants to make people feel unthreatened by cannabis, and “determine whether or not cannabis is right [for them],” says Moniz. “We just want to be that educational source where people can figure out what do I need to know to talk to my doctor and be a little more informed.”
“We just want to be that educational source where people can figure out what do I need to know to talk to my doctor and be a little more informed.”
One of Cannvas’ advantages is that no other company in the space has gone to market with a product that’s both informative and aimed at everyone. Its only competitors may be sites built by licensed cannabis producers, or content written from a medical perspective.
The data that Cannvas is gathering is going to become very important in the business-to-business market once legalization comes into effect. Jumping into the space early should help the company grow to become one of the most recognized – and depending on if the site lives up to its promise – authoritative names in cannabis.
There are companies like Tweed or Lift & Co that are trying to create digital products that will launch once cannabis is legalized, but Cannvas says it’s focusing on something more important. It’s trying to help people educate themselves about something that’s been hidden away for most of their lives.
Cannvas.me is slated to launch at the end of summer in 2018.
Image Source: Cannvas MedTech