How Shoppers Drug Mart’s Blockchain Program Could Transform Canada’s Cannabis Industry
Blockchain technology may have just received its first major vote of confidence from Canada’s cannabis industry, following news that Shoppers Drug Mart would be undertaking a blockchain-secured traceability program with TruTrace Technologies (CSE: TTT) (OTC: BKKSF).
“The Pilot Program will use TruTrace’s StrainSecure™ technology as a central hub for identity management, asset tracking, validation, and product authentication. StrainSecure will also serve as a master registry for standardized testing, product verification, and quality assurance.“
Ken Weisbrod, Vice President, Shoppers Drug Mart, went on to suggest that TruTrace’s blockchain technology could introduce a whole new level of standardization to Canada’s cannabis industry.
“. . . The source of medical cannabis must be traceable and accountable for patients and practitioners to feel confident about it as a treatment . . . When a patient takes medication, there is an expectation that it is standardized, and they can expect consistent clinical outcomes and results. Although that’s not always a guarantee within the medical cannabis industry at the moment, we’re hoping this new program can help change that.”
Blockchain Struggles To Gain Acceptance From Canadian Regulators
Blockchain technology—which essentially refers to a distributed, immutable ledger that provides a verifiable record of all transactions for a given network—has emerged as one of the decade’s most potentially disruptive technologies. Though initially used for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain is gradually finding its way into more mainstream sectors such as fintech and healthcare.
But for all its hype and potential use-cases, many businesses and governments remain skeptical of blockchain’s true value. For starters, it’s not as ‘unhackable’ as some may have originally claimed.
Via Technology Review,
“Blockchains are particularly attractive to thieves because fraudulent transactions can’t be reversed as they often can be in the traditional financial system. Besides that, we’ve long known that just as blockchains have unique security features, they have unique vulnerabilities. Marketing slogans and headlines that called the technology ‘unhackable’ were dead wrong.”
Because of these risks and more, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have had limited experiments with blockchain technology.
The most notable use of blockchain by the Canadian government was the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Ethereum blockchain-based prototype, which was used for tracking Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) disclosures. This pilot program has since concluded, and as of this writing, has yet to receive further comment from the NRC.
The only other noteworthy instance in which Canadian policymakers interacted with blockchain technology occurred back in 2017, when IBM urged the B.C. government to consider using its blockchain technology to track the province’s legal marijuana supply chain. While they didn’t end up taking IBM up on their offer, B.C. did roll out its first blockchain-enabled tool “Org Book BC” to the public in January 2019, signalling an increased willingness from the B.C. government to incorporate blockchain technologies.
What Shoppers Drug Mart’s Cannabis Blockchain Means For The Canadian Cannabis Industry
Given that the public sector often waits for the private sector to take the risk on new technologies and ideas, it will be up to the private sector to prove that blockchain technology can offer a measurable benefit for cannabis-related entities.
In other words, should Shoppers Drug Mart be able to successfully integrate the technology into the company’s day-to-day operations, Shoppers Drug Mart’s cannabis blockchain program could pave the way for blockchain’s acceptance amongst Canadian cannabis regulators.
The hope is that by doing so, Canadian policymakers can leverage blockchain technology to create a safer, more efficient cannabis supply chain that better reflects the potential of the Canadian cannabis market.