A dozen medicinal cannabis cultivators and processors have partnered with Medicinal Genomics to record and track the genetics of cannabis strains on the Bitcoin blockchain to ensure product consistency and quality.
Cannabis Strains on the Bitcoin Blockchain
Medicinal Genomics (MGC) is no stranger to Bitcoin. They have logged thousand of cannabis strains on the blockchain to protect against counterfeiting and cloning of trademark strains. The molecular information company has also previously appeared on the Bitcoinist and Lets Talk Bitcoin podcasts.
Now, the Massachusetts-based firm has partnered with a preliminary group of twelve cultivators and processors to develop fully-validated, genomics-based safety and quality standards for medical cannabis.
The lack of consistent strains from the same grower can present significant medical challenges for patients, as even slight changes in the plant’s genetics can alter its effect. For example, many patients require a specific strain of cannabis with a certain cannabinoid profile for effective treatment. Therefore, patients risk losing symptom relief if plant genetics vary, which can happen quite often in this nascent industry.
Although some states have enacted testing requirements for yeasts, molds, heavy metals, and microbes, no specific laws or guidelines currently dictate genetic consistency of strains used by patients.
“The current industry nomenclature for identifying and characterizing the medicinal benefits of a strain has no consistency, reliability, or association with the quality and/or effectiveness of the product used by patients,” says Kevin McKernan, chief scientific officer of MGC. “With clinically-validated Next-Generation Sequencing techniques, we now have the tools to decipher the genetics driving the medicinal properties of cannabis strains used by patients.”
He adds that Bitcoin’s blockchain technology can facilitate this process, saying:
[T]his information can be linked into a distributed ledger to serve as the basis for claims about intellectual property, branding, and scientific discovery in the advanced breeders market.
Others Have ‘Bastardized’ Blockchains
Interestingly, MGC opted for the tried and true distributed ledger at a time when just about every major corporation and bank have started building their own blockchains.
“Many of these other platforms don’t have the proof-of-work that’s in Bitcoin,” explains McKernan when asked why his company chose the Bitcoin blockchain.
“They have some bastardized version of it to accelerate the transaction speed and that worries me. The hack bounty on Bitcoin is $10 billion, and no one’s done it since inception in 2009. Ethereum has been hacked with the DAO roll out and Dash only has a market cap of $81M. The market cap of the coin is the hack bounty.”
If you can hack the coin, you can drain the currency. You don’t want customers IP on untested currencies with low market caps.
Using MGC’s StrainSEEK service, the unique genetic information of cannabis and hemp strains derived from DNA-sequencing is recorded into the Bitcoin blockchain database. This ensures the consistency, safety, and branding integrity of strains used in the treatment of patients in states where medical cannabis is legal.
This method not only gives confidence to patients using these strains, but it also significantly reduces product liability risk for the parties involved. Hence, it’s being lauded by doctors and regulators who were previously unaware that genetic variance and effectiveness of cannabis is of significant concern, according to MGC.
A Burgeoning Industry
Medicinal cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Currently, estimates show the industry valued at $6 billion, with expectations of growth up to $50 billion by 2026. Twenty-five states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized the use of medical cannabis with more expected to join the list after Election day.
You can also catch MGC’s Kevin McKernan speaking at the upcoming Crypto Cannabis conference in Denver October 20-21 and at CannMed 2017 in April.
Do you think using the Bitcoin blockchain will result in better quality and consistency of medicinal cannabis? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, medicinalgenomics.com