Blockchain technology has the potential to become a dominant technology in our lifetime.
It is increasing its footprint in our daily lives every day and is expected to play a major role in trade, business, healthcare management, and finance and more. This is not a new social media platform but a technology for exchanging value in an open, verifiable environment. It can track movements of goods in the shipping industry, verify someone’s ID and safely transfer money and payments across borders in real time. It can do for value what the Internet does for information.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that is most associated with Blockchain technology, but the technology can be applied in any setting that requires a secure database and sharing of information through a distributed ledger.
It’s no wonder that Blockchain technology, a market that could grow to more than $40 billion by 2022 according to at least one estimate, has captured the attention of governments looking for simpler and more secure methods of governing. Estonia, a leader in this technology, has embraced the use of Blockchain to offer government-issued digital IDs. Last year, the Georgian Government launched a project in partnership with the private sector to register land titles using a private Blockchain. In the UAE, the government has started a goal of using Blockchain technologies to create a paperless Dubai by 2020. The Singaporean Government has also partnered with the private sector to open a center for Blockchain technology. And finally, the UN is working with a number of companies to create Blockchain pilot projects that help vulnerable populations, such as refugees, by developing economic identities and delivering humanitarian aid more efficiently.
Canada is by far the most advanced in terms of making cannabis legal for medical use for millions of consumers and for having the largest concentration of publicly-traded companies engaged in the cannabis industry.
After years of success in legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, next year the country will federally legalize cannabis for recreational use. Provinces and territories will have authority to regulate certain aspects like distribution, retail and a range of other matters – as they do for tobacco and liquor.
To prepare for the new liberalization, British Columbia (BC), a Canadian province, requested public input about how best to regulate cannabis. IBM’s response, summarized in BlockChain: An Irrefutable Chain of Custody Audit for the Seed to Sale of Cannabis in BC, shows how even a major company can invent new applications for this emerging technology.
According to IBM, Blockchain is an ideal mechanism in which BC can transparently capture the history of cannabis through the entire supply chain by ensuring consumer safety while exerting regulatory control – “from seed to sale,” the new term of art that describes the liberal but regulated status of the plant.
Here’s what IBM says:
Blockchain is a highly effective trust mechanism which uses a cryptographically – secure shared ledger to irrefutably track complex transactions amongst many known parties. Its key attributes:
- It is distributed : no central system brokers transactions, instead each party in the business network is provided its own ledger copy showing a ll transactions, so truth is shared by design;
- It is immutable : cryptography ensures that transactions (blocks) once entered into the ledger (chained) can never be altered, so transactions are secure; and
- It is transparent : all shared ledgers across the business network hold all transactions of all parties within the network, ensuring consensus.
Blockchain is rapidly becoming a world leading technology enabling the assured exchange of value in both digital and tangible assets, while protecting privacy and eliminating fraud. Its relevance to regulating cannabis is similar to its many chain of custody applications in areas such as pharmaeutical distribution and food chains. The core to those supply chains is the same, assuring health and safety of consumers, preventing fraud and counterfeiting while creating a foundation of transparency upon which to base regulation.