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CBD Blockchain Tracing: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

CBD Blockchain Tracing: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

There’s no denying that the medicinal cannabis industry is thriving. In fact, reports show that the global legal cannabis market is expected to reach $103.9 billion (£75.9 billion) by 2024, of which 57% will be driven by medicinal cannabis. However, despite its growth, the cannabis industry faces a number of challenges across the world, including legality, unclear regulations, and lack of awareness. As the cannabis sector was unregulated for so long, it will take time before the industry has the proper infrastructure needed for it to blossom. 

This is where blockchain technology comes in. Blockchain is usually thought of in conjunction with cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, but its use is now being expanded to smart contracts, intelligent assets, and supply chain transparency. Since blockchain is a secure, transparent, and decentralised network, it can offer several advantages to the cannabis industry. In this article, we will discuss how it affects the cannabis supply chain and why it matters. 

What Is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is a secure, decentralised system that is used for peer-to-peer transactions and to monitor the transfer of data and other digital values. In essence, it is a digital database that monitors and verifies information and transactions via crowdsourcing. As a result, every time a transaction is made, every computer on the network verifies and updates its information. This online ledger is used to monitor transactions and can be a gamechanger for supply chain transparency.

Using Blockchain in the Cannabis Industry

Blockchain is a highly disruptive technology that has the ability to change how the cannabis supply chain operates. There are several uses of blockchain technology in the cannabis supply chain, ranging from uses for growers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. Some of the most important applications are outlined below.

Reliable and Accurate Information 

Blockchain technology can result in a database of verifiable and reliable information. One of the main features of the technology is that the information being recorded can’t be changed, and data cannot be manipulated. Whether those in the industry have concerns about data manipulation or omission, blockchain can serve to eliminate these concerns. The group-level verification process ensures security and makes blockchain highly resistant to any tampering. 

Tracking Medical Records

Some countries have legalised recreational cannabis. However, most countries still restrict the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Thus, pharmacies and dispensaries require medical notes or prescriptions in order to sell these products. Blockchain can enable the verification of such prescriptions before selling cannabis products. This way, patients can benefit from the health benefits that cannabis provides without any risk of duplicate prescriptions and the system being abused. 

Stepping Stone for Legalisation 

Cannabis isn’t legal in all countries yet. Part of this is because of black-market dealings and the inability to control or track cannabis supply. Since blockchain has the ability to streamline production and consumption, it can help legalisation efforts. Making consumption traceable increase the chances of legalising medicinal cannabis drastically. 

Data Analysis 

Blockchain can give permissioned access to specific sets of data. Therefore, companies can share data without having to divulge trade secrets or formulations. Since the data shared can be limited, this will encourage more companies to allow access to data, which can then be used for data analysis and research. As a result, R&D departments can analyse data while maintaining anonymity. 

Available Source Information

Whether it’s to ensure legal manufacturing or track the provenance of products, blockchain can help governments and organisations track cannabis products from seed to sale. Source information being readily available can ensure that there hasn’t been any tampering and promotes confidence in growers and manufacturers as well as the cannabis industry as a whole. For example, farmers can include information such as the type of seeds they use, heavy metal contamination, insecticides, and pesticides. With harvesting, testing, and planting all in one place, any questionable information can be easily verified. 

Quality Standards 

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, there are many companies that have tried to take advantage of the lucrative nature of the business. These con artists don’t keep the consumers’ best interests in mind and have been known to mislabel products, forego cannabis testing, and put consumers’ health at risk. From heavy metals and pesticides to inaccurate potency and terpene information, this is extremely harmful to consumers. This is especially true when the medicinal nature of cannabis is considered. 

Blockchain technology can allow the cannabis industry to trace products back to the growers and processors and provide quality-assured products to consumers. Regulatory criteria can be checked online, including FDA/FSA approval and testing, including stability and shelf-life testing, heavy metals testing, terpene analysis, and more.

Transparency 

The cannabis industry has been tainted by bad actors who put profits over consumer safety and product testing. With a study by the University of Pennsylvania showing that almost 70% of CBD extracts found online are mislabelled, and only 30% of products containing CBD are within 10% of the amount listed, it’s no wonder that consumers aren’t particularly trusting. Another study by the Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) showed that in addition to under- and over-labelling, many cannabis products included ethanol, isopropanol, arsenic, and even lead. 45% of the products tested contained illegal amounts of THC, putting both consumers and retailers at risk.

Consumer trust is essential when it comes to the cannabis industry. Not only are transparent brands more likely to thrive in the industry, but accurately labelled products prevent health disasters and are critical for consumers to choose the right products for their needs. 

Blockchain safeguards consumer trust by providing high levels of transparency. An excellent example of this is CanCheck.org, a website based on blockchain technology that was launched by the Cannabinoid Association of the Netherlands (CAN). Individuals can use the system to check product analysis reports conducted by accredited laboratories and access cannabinoid profiling information, contaminant testing results, and potency tests.

Blockchain Technology and Cannabis Testing

Cannabis testing is integral for safeguarding consumer interests, giving consumers peace of mind, and allowing manufacturers to choose raw materials carefully. It’s critical that you choose the right lab for your needs. Fortunately, IFS Laboratories is UKAS-accredited and offers all kinds of analytical testing, including cannabinoid profiling, residual solvent testing, terpene analysis, mycotoxin analysis, stability testing, and more. Contact us here, and our experts can advise you on which tests you require.