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Where’s my weed and what’s in it? New technology disrupts cannabis tracking

Stockhouse Editorial
0 Comments| May 30, 2018

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When it comes to non-traditional asset classes, few have performed better than cannabis in the last 12 months. While this is great news for growers and distributors anxiously awaiting this explosion in the industry, the emerging cannabis sector is not without its growing pains as it nears widespread legalization in the United States and Canada. Outside of regulatory hurdles, one of the more significant challenges facing the industry is a lack of technology available to verify and track cannabis products throughout the supply-chain process, from growing fields to consumers’ hands.

A variety of companies dove in early to capitalize on the surging market, but used inferior tools that failed to perform optimally because they weren’t designed specifically for the industry. The cannabis industry has unique challenges in several areas. From a consumers’ perspective, customers need to be fully aware of where their cannabis comes from and know the chemical contents of what they are buying. Producers are weighed down by an avalanche of regulatory paperwork as governments promise to make cannabis the most regulated - and scrutinized - consumable on the market.

Crunching Data Deeper than the Root

One Company sees opportunity where others have failed. BLOCKStrainTechnology Corp. (TSX:V.DNAX, Forum) designed a highly-integrated platform customized to the cannabis sector. In technical terms, the Vancouver-based Company has created software designed to archive the genetic DNA of cannabis strains and to track every transaction and sale. This type of platform makes it comfortable and trustworthy for cannabis breeders and growers, large and small, to share data and communicate with each other.

Click to enlargeUsing proprietary blockchain technology, the software allows growers to release their varieties into the public domain without fear of losing their ownership claim or rights to be paid for their intellectual property (IP).

The team at BLOCKStrain understands the industry and how to use the versatile power of blockchain to bring solutions that optimize performance. Every line of code, written by Company CTO Tommy Stephenson and his team, is original, based on a deep understanding of the cannabis industry’s needs. He has brought his enterprise technology expertise, with Fortune 500 pedigree, to the emerging global cannabis sector for nearly ten years.

Time is money in the cannabis business. The key solution provided by BLOCKStrain’s platform is that it cuts administrative red tape in half, which is crucial for growers and mandatory lab testing. Its software is born out of close partnerships with GMP Health Canada approved cannabis product testing facilities. All of the information gathered during the growth period of the product is saved on a blockchain, protecting IP data that could be worth millions.

The potential benefits to the industry are enormous. The Company offers the ability to track the life of a product, not just from seed-to-sale, but starting earlier from genome-to-sale.

Currently, seed-to-sale tracking is often a requirement in cannabis regulatory models. However, this type of visibility and transparency is only the beginning. Genome-to-sale visibility starts tracking before the seed is created, and captures the genomics of a plant – the molecular makeup of its structure.

Such tracking is important, not only because it’s required by law in most jurisdictions, but also because a key point of legalization is to provide verified product that is safe and from a legal source. Therefore, cannabis businesses must collect and report data at every point in the supply chain, and do so in a way that’s visible and accessible to regulators – either through manual reporting, during physical inspections or uploading the data directly to the regulator’s track and tracing system. BLOCKStrain’s platform provides all of this collaborative tracking information in a user-friendly way for participants and potential participants of the platform – including consumers, growers and government regulators.

A consumer can now see everything about the product they are purchasing, from the terpenes and pesticides it was exposed to over its growth, to the makeup and potency of the strain.

Why is this important? Cannabis’ potential effects are as varied as a set of watercolour paints. In the most basic sense, some strains can elevate mood, alleviate pain, or enhance sleep. Unfortunately, this means consumers are largely unaware of how cannabis will affect their bodies. However, through BLOCKStrain’s data, they can make much more informed decisions about the products they choose.

For producers, entering this data and being able to track shipments is far less laborious through a blockchain’s distributed ledger. Government bodies who want transparency from the industry can also turn to this database. BLOCKStrain strives to be the glue that binds it all together.

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The reason that sites like Google and LinkedIn are as valuable as they are, is because their tools and apps are built off of intelligent data and designed to be functional for their clients’ businesses. BLOCKStrain’s systems are built in a similar fashion. The data entered into its platform comes directly from the growers who are getting their fingers dirty working with assets daily. The platform was built in alignment with Microsoft Azure and is also scalable to the size of the grower’s operation and should be viewed as a long-term investment.

Cultivated from Industry Experience

BLOCKStrain’s management team learned many lessons in the blossoming California cannabis market. True to the state’s “wild west” nature, companies came in with the intent of taking over the marketplace but found it challenging to provide realistic tools to ensure safe and verified products for consumers, while operating in an evolving regulatory landscape.

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The team is made up of veterans from the cannabis and enterprise software industries. Tommy Stephenson is the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of California-based Ghost Group, with its flagship product Weedmaps. He has spent the past 19 years building enterprise technology and creative products for Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Google/YouTube and Mercedes-Benz. Together with Company CEO Robert Galarza, they noticed many issues in how cannabis producers were communicating and operating. While many other companies built point-of-sale services or directories, BLOCKStrain focused on the opportunity to build a sophisticated, easy-to-use tool that streamlines verification, growing and shipment of the product.

BLOCKStrain’s emphasis on genome-to-sale means tracking a product’s life at its most finite starting point. Verifying a cannabis strain has been challenging at best and so far, governments haven’t found a means of getting information on this that they can rely on. Although testing is mandated by the government, consumers aren’t always privy to the full breadth of that information. BLOCKStrain’s system includes a straightforward affidavit that helps clients show consumers and the government every detail around the quality of their product. It boasts a quick response (QR) barcode specific to each batch that can be scanned to provide all information relating to a product. Producers can put this barcode on their packages to market the quality of the strain. Like getting indexed on Google, there’s no higher accolade than the proven truth. BLOCKStrain can now tell consumers if the cannabis they’re ingesting is a trusted IP, or if it is laced with pesticides.

Efficient testing of cannabis is critical to the growth of the industry. Utilizing the blockchain to protect this information only increases its value.

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A major issue industry growers face is managing to complete these tests by hand, in time to ship the products, especially as demand for inventory is on the rise. To meet government regulations, producers must currently complete hours and hours of paperwork. From master growers responsible for watching the plants to the those charged by the RCMP to watch over the entire operation, several key parties are forced to use time on paperwork that could be better spent on managing the quality of their product. This is where the BLOCKStrain’s innovative technology comes in. By providing Smart Serialization to help automate the process through blockchain, BLOCKStrain eases the burden of administrative data, which in turn makes testing easier. BLOCKStrain is also creating Internet-of-Things (IoT)-connected devices to help track and monitor plants and soil so that workers can focus on growing.

WeedMD signs a Historic Agreement with BLOCKStrain

Licensed producer and distributor WeedMD Inc. has recently announced a historic deal to work exclusively with BLOCKStrain. Under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), WeedMD is one of the first federally-licensed producers to integrate blockchain into its system. BLOCKStrain’s programmers are working with WeedMD’s growers to build and adapt a system specific to their needs.

Saving Time and Money

We have yet to see the full volume of demand for the cannabis industry and the problems the industry currently faces will only be exacerbated once this volume increases as legalization in Canada becomes widespread for recreational use, sometime in 2018. Trimming down the administrative process will reduce many problems that occur. Creating efficiencies also creates savings. BLOCKStrain makes money when its clients make money and there are a number of ways it can make money, including:

  • Booking system for all required testing of product
  • Blockchain based genetic registration and maintenance
  • A SaaS model for producers
  • Large-scale enterprise model sales to government
  • Tracking shipments and testing results
  • Producing custom software

Growing Solutions for a Growing Industry

Future revenue streams the Company is working on include the development of IoT-devices, as well as other custom technology. Its platform is a product that clients, be they growers, governments, or consumers, can use instantly to answer three burning questions.

Is this my weed? BLOCKStrain can protects growers’ IP in a way that is indisputable. Since the IP of a strain can be worth millions, this is highly important. The details of what the strain is and how it was grown is essential and detailed within the blockchain.

Where is my weed? BLOCKStrain can track a products’ lifecycle from growth, cultivation, distribution, right to consumption.

Is my weed pure and safe? In addition to genetics, they also facilitate testing for contaminants. For the first time, a consumer can check this information when purchasing the product itself. A sticker on fruit can say no GMOs were used in its growth, but what does that really mean? With BLOCKStrain’s data, a consumer can understand exactly what that means.

These questions could soon be commonplace and investors who want to keep ahead of the curve will want to keep tabs on BLOCKStrain’s ongoing efforts to enhance the industry as it goes mainstream.

FULL DISCOLSURE: BLOCKStrain Technology Corp. is a paid client of Stockhouse Publishing.

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