Cannabis growers can use blockchain tech to get a better deal for creators of interesting and unique strains, says Dan Sutton, Founder and CEO of Tantalus Labs.
As most people familiar with cannabis know, there are countless strains of the plant, with more sprouting up – pun fully intended – every day.
Each of these strains is unique, coming with its own set of characteristics. These range its genetic parentage, to the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) or other compounds, to the taste and feel of the product when smoked, and so much more.
And just like any other creation, it was born of someone’s hard work. It can require years of selective breeding and crossbreeding to create the desired product. Like any other creation, the creator should hold certain rights to receive credit, and certainly financial remuneration, when their creation is used or sold by others.
To do so, they first need to be recognized as the creator behind the strain. But how many cannabis users could actually name the grower or breeder who created the strains they love to consume?
Are legacy breeders getting their due credit?
Many of us know the strain Skunk #1. But how many people know the story of its creator Skunkman Sam and his contribution to the history of cannabis breeding?
For years, breeders worked to create the legacy strains we love. Yet so quickly we have seen their creations being taken out of their hands. Their seeds are acquired and used to create the products that many legal and regulated cannabis dealers are reaping the value of today.
Without the ability to gain that recognition for their creation, cannabis breeders are unable to get the credit and financial compensation they are owed for the usage of their creation. Every day cannabis dealers are selling pounds upon pounds of product with no such recognition or remuneration. This is despite the regulation of the industry that came with legalization in recent years.
Now we have a regulated cannabis industry where a vast majority of the value lies in the hands of just a few. This is instead of shared value among the many stakeholders that are so vital in the breeding, growing, and distribution of the product.
So what role could blockchain and smart contract technology have in empowering legacy growers? These growers want to stake a recognizable claim to the strains that give them the leverage. They need to receive due credit or financial restitution when others sell their strains.
Solving the legacy issue with blockchain
Before we dive headfirst into the solution to this problem, it is important we first define a little about the blockchain and why it lends itself so well to this particular circumstance.
The blockchain – as a digital ledger that is capable of recording and tracking data or physical assets – has a huge range of uses. But in this particular circumstance, the most important aspect of the technology is that it represents a virtual “smart contract.”
A smart contract is derived from coded instructions that define the terms of an agreement. This includes the who, what, where, and when of the various transactions that may occur through this blockchain. Through automation, smart contracts are able to accurately execute transactions. This is without the possibility of being affected by human error, like paper-based or manual systems of the past.
Additionally, smart contracts also have the ability to automatically trigger payments between parties, as defined by the terms of the agreement.
As it relates directly to the problem at hand, a smart contract brings with it two major characteristics that lend themselves to empowering legacy growers to stake a claim to their due credit.
Firstly, because the information on the blockchain is cryptographically secure and completely tamper-proof, nobody is able to alter the data represented once it has been verified.
And secondly, because the data exists within the blockchain, it is publicly available for anybody with the skills to work in the blockchain to view at any given time. Therefore that smart contract is not only immutable but it is also transparent for all to see. In my eyes, transparency is the key to facilitating business transactions that benefit all parties involved. This is without leaving open the possibility of one side pulling a scam over on the other.
Cannabis: Violation of contract
There will be people who violate such a contract – for example, in this instance, someone who sells a breeder’s strain without crediting or reimbursing them. But, the person with proof of ownership of that strain within the blockchain would have the evidence they require to take any action against the dealers they see as necessary.
Additionally, with their strains recognized in the blockchain, breeders can use this to collaborate with dealers who employ ethical attribution and reimbursement practices. This further reinforces ethical business practices and makes progress towards a market where this is the standard, rather than something that needs to be pushed for.
Cannabis breeders can retake control over their product and regain the value they created. In the past, this was taken away from them by the surge of legal dealers in the industry. But now, breeders should consider collaborating with blockchain experts to mint their strains within the blockchain. This way, they can begin the journey towards receiving the credit and restitution they deserve as legacy breeders.
Cannabis: The future of blockchain in the industry
As a fairly new technology, blockchain still has the potential for many utilities to be discovered. But already, many facets of the cannabis industry could stand to benefit from it. This is beyond the ability to empower breeders to regain the control and value of their strains.
The cannabis industry has already made great strides in recent years. But some still see much progress needing to be made in building up consumer confidence and its reputation.
Blockchain technology has the ability to verify and track a product from seed origin through the various growing, cultivating, and manufacturing processes, through its entire supply chain journey, and finally through any sales. And, it has the ability to even further modernize, legitimize, and empower the cannabis industry into the future.
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