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Few industries are as misunderstood, or as complimentary, as cannabis and blockchain technology. Both niches are young and exist in highly speculative markets with foggy regulatory conditions. They are also receiving an influx of high talent entrepreneurs and programmers looking to solve some of their respective industry’s largest problems.

In order to truly understand the synergy of cannabis and blockchain, we must look beyond the hype and speculation to understand how and why the cannabis industry needs blockchain technology. It is also important to understand how both industries may inevitably depend on each other.

Cannabis and Blockchain at a Glimpse

The North American cannabis industry has seen a major spike in growth and attention as of late. Much of that attention is coming from entrepreneurs seeking to create value and strike it big, and investors looking for a piece of the pie. There is also an influx in activists fighting for what they believe to be a truly beneficial product and politicians on both sides of the heated legalization debate.

The major strides in the cannabis industry were not without their pain points. Transparency, payment solutions, quality assurance and maintenance, and general regulatory uncertainty have plagued cannabis entrepreneurs for years.

The blockchain is essentially an immutable distributed database at the heart of what many people are calling a cryptocurrency revolution. Everything from popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to publicly traded companies such as IBM are utilizing blockchain to solve countless issues. These issues aren’t just being solved for a few businesses either, we’re talking thousands of businesses.

Combined with sister technologies like cryptocurrency (digital cryptographic currency) and smart contracts (programming-based contracts), blockchain can help the cannabis industry solve its current issues and navigate the uncertain path ahead.

Setting a Standard of Transparency

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jessica VerSteeg, the CEO of a cannabis startup called Paragon is utilizing its own blockchain-based cryptocurrency, noted that “Blockchain is about [transparency]. And that’s what we need in the cannabis space.”

Since the blockchain ledger is unchanging, it significantly reduces or eliminates any potential human-based obfuscation or deceptive practices. This would make it extremely easy for financial institutions and governments to audit cannabis companies and keep track of taxes due.

This is particularly important in the cannabis space where businesses must face unclear regulations across borders. Blockchain would empower these businesses with tangible proof of the point of origin and whether any products are moving across national or state lines. This is one of the reasons VerSteeg and other entrepreneurs cite blockchain as being “one catalyst that could help legalize cannabis.”

Although Paragon would later become embroiled in a lawsuit due to its failure to register its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) with the SEC, their fundamental business plan to add transparency to the cannabis space remains the same.

Quality Assurance and Maintenance

Blockchain technology enables businesses to manage their supply chains in real-time, eliminating paper trails and their inescapable lag. Since the cannabis space is relatively new, few companies are able to create an effective vertical integration in their supply chain free from any lag or loss of product.

It’s likely that cannabis will touch many different businesses from farm to when it gets to an authorized dispensary, creating multiple potential costly points of failure. Cannabis businesses utilizing blockchain will be able to precisely pinpoint any inefficiencies in the process and, well, nip them in the bud.

Additionally, by utilizing blockchain in their supply-chain, cannabis businesses will be able to provide customers with the complete picture of their purchase’s journey. Starting from when it was just a seed and how many different parties it touched before ending up in their shopping cart.

Dispensaries will also be able to fully guarantee their products contain exactly the amount of THC, CBD and whether it is sativa or indica dominant as what they’re advertised. Many first-timers walking through legal dispensary doors tend to have concern about their sensitivities to the products. A supply chain supported by flawless math caters to a better overall customer experience.

Marijuana

Image Credits: Pixabay

Payment Processing and Storage

Payments are perhaps one of the largest blights for the cannabis industry.

Although the vast majority of states in the US have legalized marijuana in some capacity, whether medicinal or recreational, federal law poses cumbersome restrictions for how cannabis-based companies can accept and store payments. According to the Credit Union Times, out of the 11,000 banks in the United States, only 300 of them allowed cannabis business owners to create accounts.

This is leading many business owners to operate as a sole cash-only business. With hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars of revenue, business owners are facing a near-Wild West high stakes risky scenario. Additionally, accounting at high volumes tends to become a nightmare for cash-only businesses and regulators end up having to sift through nebulous financials and end up with an unclear view of tax liabilities, contributing to hesitations for more lenient regulatory policies.

Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized and unregulated for the most part, they enable cannabis businesses to accept secure, cashless, and fast payments that can convert into greenbacks or sent anywhere around the world at competitive speeds.

The North American cannabis industry is expected to count $20.2 billion in sales by 2021. While traditional payment solutions companies are bound by federal restrictions, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are positioning themselves to not only change how the cannabis industry accepts payments, but how global commerce operates.

Final Thoughts

From payment processing and identity confirmation to tracking the entire supply chain from seed to end-product, the cannabis industry has plenty of entry points for blockchain technology.

As the cannabis and blockchain industries evolve together, there will be an even deeper mingling and collaboration between the respective entrepreneurial talents, technological advantages, and political activism of each die-hard community.


This article by Alex Moskov was previously published on MadeByHemp

About the Author:

Alex Moskov is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral, a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain media publication. He also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Learn More About Cannabidiol

 

Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, has long been lauded for its potential significant medical benefits and pain-reducing aspects. But for all of its popularity and trendiness, CBD is still largely misunderstood by population masses and regulators alike. Although the legislature in the 2018 Farm Bill was recently passed, de-scheduling hemp and CBD, there are still several pain points which circle the CBD industry.

With the CBD industry expected to grow to $2 billion by 2020, it’s no shocker that hundreds of entrepreneurs are viewing CBD’s pain points as a call to arms to provide lucrative solutions to facilitate the growth of the space. Many of these entrepreneurs are jumping head first into blockchain and cryptocurrency, two relatively new technologies that could make a substantial dent and potentially free the CBD space from its woes.

From Bongger (BGR) to Sativacoin (STV) to DopeCoin (DOPE), there is no shortage of appropriately named cannabis-focused cryptocurrencies coming out of the woodwork. The following article explores a few of the most common and most legitimate cryptocurrencies that circle the CBD space, as well as the innovative solutions they offer.

PotCoin (POT)

No cannabis cryptocurrency list would be complete without its poster child, PotCoin.

Launched in January 2014, the Canada-based PotCoin was a pioneer for the intersection of blockchain and marijuana. The token was created to solve the banking problems for businesses and customers seeking to transact in completely legal purchases. In 2017, only 300 of the 11,000 banks in the United States allowed cannabis business owners to create accounts, and that figure was much smaller in 2014.

PotCoin remained relatively dormant but exploded with popularity alongside the overall cryptocurrency industry, hitting a peak on June 12th, 2017 when a video of the controversial perplexing NBA star Dennis Rodman rocked a potcoin.com shirt in North Korea on his way to the historic summit between the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un and the President of the United States Donald Trump.

PotCoin reached an all-time-high market cap of roughly $93,129,000 USD in 2017 and currently sits around $2,900,000 USD. There is a limited supply of PotCoin set at 420 million POT.

ParagonCoin (PRG)

Paragon was established in July 2017 with the intention of creating a suite of products aimed at organizing, systematizing, and creating easily verifiable and transparent cannabis industry solutions.

ParagonCoin (PRG) is the cryptographic token that powers the Paragon ecosystem, which allows businesses and users to easily transfer funds. An interesting solution to note in the Paragon suite is a full seed-to-sale tracking solution that integrates all of the different stages in each individual cannabis-based companies supply chain. Within the scope of CBD products, this would help verify and ensure that the end-product CBD is created from exactly what is expected.

Cannabidiol CBD

Image Credits: yavdat (Getty Images)

Cultivators are able to enter their relevant crop data and growth cycles, with the final harvest batches becoming linked to smart contracts that track the flow to the point of sales. The immutability of the blockchain would ensure that database information can’t be tampered with at a later date or removed altogether, making it easier for businesses (and regulators) to better understand the flow of products and lax liabilities.

Paragon would later trip into a lawsuit for failure to register its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) with the SEC, which served as a landmark case for all ICOs in the industry. ParagonCoin reached an all-time-high market cap of roughly $57,000,000 USD at the start of 2018 and currently sits around $8,000,000 USD.

Bitcoin and Litecoin

Although not branded as cannabis-based cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Litecoin are popular choices for businesses and consumers transact for cannabis and CBD-related products.

Many cannabis and CBD businesses set up portals to accept Bitcoin and Litecoin early on to circumvent opaque regulations that prevented them from accepting credit card payments. As Bitcoin and Litecoin grew their user bases exponentially in 2017 and 2018, many more businesses jumped on board.

Although both cryptocurrencies provide the same end result, they differ in small ways. Bitcoin tends to be more popular due to its massive user base and liquidity, and Litecoin is sometimes preferred because of its lower transaction fees.

Final Thoughts

As the CBD and cannabis space continues to grow, there will likely be an increase in the number of entrepreneurs leveraging the power of blockchain and cryptocurrency to facilitate their business needs. By understanding the current economic and regulatory climate, as well as the technological applications of cryptocurrency, these business owners will be much better equipped to position themselves as leaders in their respective fields.


This article by Alex Moskov was previously published on MadeByHemp.com

About the Author:

Alex Moskov is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral, a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain media publication. Alex also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.

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