After N.J. legalizes weed, these tech wizards want to grow tons of it here. With robots. – NJ.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Entrepreneurs everywhere are eyeing the billion-dollar legal weed industry, an economic opportunity unrivaled in modern N.J. history. NJ Cannabis Insider features exclusive weekly content geared toward those interested in the marijuana industry. View a sample issue.

You’ve heard of C-3PO. But are you ready for Seedo-3PO?

With New Jersey on the cusp of legalizing weed as early as next month, cannabis is expected to bring massive changes to the Garden State economy. But just how it will be grown is changing, too, thanks to an Israeli tech start-up with its eyes on New Jersey’s $1 billion weed market: Seedo.

“Cannabis is a very smart plant, but it’s very complicated to handle and grow it,” says Zohar Levy, CEO of Seedo, an Israeli and Maryland-based startup that claims to be able to quadruple the yield of traditional cannabis grows using climate-controlled chambers run by robots.

You see, despite the old cliché of “growing like a weed,” cannabis has actually been something of a high-maintenance slacker when it comes to its cultivation. Sure, it thrives in warm, sunny climates, but what doesn’t? In shade, it provides far less seed and pollen. It’s not tolerant of the cold, and does not reproduce well in drought. It’s also very susceptible to fungal infections, so too much water leaves it vulnerable to pathogens.

If this conjures an image of it as the plant kingdom’s version of the Bubble Boy, you’re not far off — Seedo says it’s found a work-around to its fragility that may just revolutionize the cannabis industry.

For years, high price of fetched by traditionally farmed cannabis and low cost of human labor conspired to make robotic farming uneconomical.

“It’s extremely difficult to automate (the cultivation) of something with lots of permutations, and when you’re looking at a cannabis plant,

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