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Shoppers Drug Mart Announces Pilot Cannabis Blockchain Program

It wasn’t long ago that cannabis and blockchain were being married together like wine and cheese, and not a day went by without a press release of some sort of initiative between the two burgeoning industries.

Slick websites announced blockchain’s link to cannabis at a hurried pace. And then, the Bitcoin crash happened—and it seemed things died down between the two.

But that’s all changed today with the announcement from Shoppers Drug Mart, a division of TSX-traded Loblaw Co.

They are going to be using blockchain technology in a number of ways for its medical cannabis operation, enlisting publicly traded company TruTrace Technologies for its mission.

As Bitcoin continues to rise from its dip, the timing couldn’t be better.

It’s only a “pilot program,” aiming for full production and implementation by late November 2019 to start, but covers a wide gamut of areas that blockchain could likely assist, including identity management, asset tracking, validation, and product authentication.

The company’s technology, dubbed StrainSecure, will act “as a master registry for standardized testing, product verification, and quality assurance.”

A representative for RNMKR Agency, the press contact on the announcement’s press release, confirmed to Leafly that the system will not use patient data nor monitor patient data.

In practicality, the system will use QR codes on products to allow researchers and patients to obtain unbiased, verified third party scores of its biological data, all stored on the blockchain, and will help with them ensuring consistency from batch to batch.

The partnership was announced at the World Cannabis Congress, organized by cannabis media company Civilized and held in New Brunswick every year.

The company is not the first legal purveyor of cannabis to use blockchain technology. WeedMD, a cannabis cultivator, announced a partnership with Dennis Rodman-endorsed PotCoin in December 2017, although the fruits of that relationship have not yet been seen.

Other publicly-traded cannabis companies, including LG Cannabis, have embraced blockchain; planning to use the technology for the cannabis that they grow.

But the marriage between blockchain and canna has been marred with problems, including action taken by the US Securities and Exchange Commission against California-based Paragon Coin.

So far, however, the largest cannabis producers in Canada have shied away from even announcing any partnerships with blockchain companies or solutions.

One reason could be that cannabis production is heavily regulated, and must comply with an excise duty system that may not be workable within a cryptocurrency-based payment system, for example.

That could change with the Shoppers announcement, and we may see more backing of blockchain technology in the regulated Canadian cannabis sector, but only time will tell.

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Harrison Jordan

Harrison Jordan is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and enjoys reading and writing about the regulatory affairs of cannabis in Canada and around the world.

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