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What the hell is Blockchain?

Blockchain could just be the future of business, and its greatest impact could be on the flourishing Canadian cannabis industry

Although blockchain has been around for a decade, in recent years it has truly gained mainstream momentum. Despite an almost ridiculously concrete name, it has remained for many an elusive and intangible concept, especially for those who have graduated in English, in political science or in anything that requires computers purely for their word processing powers.

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Some people confuse blockchain with Bitcoin (it's not Bitcoin, even if Bitcoin would not exist without it), or they're simply confused by the concept of cryptocurrency in general. Still, blockchain could just be the future of doing business, and its greatest impact could be on the burgeoning Canadian cannabis industry.

Just as in 1995 we had never dreamed that our local libraries had websites that listed every single book on their shelves, or that we would be more connected to each other on social media than we do in person, the same applies to the blockchain , says Joaquim Miro, partner and CMO at MLG Blockchain Consulting, a global blockchain consulting and development company based in Toronto. "We are at the start of the Web3 revolution," says Miro. "In the same way you are now at a disadvantage if your company does not have a well-indexed website, you can expect a similar trend with blockchain technology that permeates every level in every industry."

What, exactly, is Blockchain?

GettyImages 917979174 e1536527101500 What the heck is Blockchain?

While Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, or electronic money, Blockchain is the technology that manages it. PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP / Getty Images

PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP / Getty Images

Blockchain had something of a nebulous beginning. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym – nobody ever discovered his true identity) developed Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, or electronic money, Blockchain is the technology that manages it. It is often described as a system of record keeping or an electronic ledger in which transactions are recorded.

"Blockchain is essentially a decentralized way of storing information using blocks of verified data that merge one on the other in a linear fashion, like links in a chain," says Miro. "Blockchain is Bitcoin, as the Internet must … (insert the site name here)."

The technology offers numerous benefits related to the business. First, there are no intermediaries (ie banks), so it puts an end to the high transaction fees, while the transactions themselves can be processed within fractions of a second. It also creates something of an electronic security network when it comes to sharing information of any kind.

"Blockchain offers greater transparency as transaction histories can be recorded on a distributed ledger," says Miro. "This distributed network makes fraud or unauthorized activity very difficult, and it is harder for hackers to compromise data because the information is not stored on a single server."

Like any new technology, it takes time for everyone to feel comfortable, adds Loudon Owen, president and CEO of DLT Labs, a global leader in the development and integration of business solutions using distributed ledger technology. "But now it's moving from early adopters to the mainstream market," he says.

"And cryptocurrency is just a small application of technology, for example, if you have 45 different databases, how do you make them talk to each other? Just add the blockchain as a layer above and all the information is shared in real time. it's safe and can work anywhere. "

Why does blockchain + cannabis work so well?

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Some Canadian companies are already investing in technology. peshkov / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Miro claims that the blockchain is particularly suited to the cannabis industry. First and foremost, there is the supply chain management area: the technology allows tracking the movement of each plant or cannabis product on the market. "This could allow a national and even international approach to the distribution of cannabis," he says. "Ensure that the entire product lifecycle, including growth, processing and B2C distribution, is traceable and managed within the confines of the law." Miro says that technology could also be useful for ID verification. "It will not be long before you can prove your identity using a decentralized blockchain app (also known as dapp), which will allow the system to be big enough to buy and consume."

Some Canadian companies are already investing in technology. In February, Emerald Health Therapeutics, an authorized medical cannabis manufacturer, announced a joint venture with DMG Blockchain Solutions which will be called CannaChain Technologies: the goal is to provide a blockchain-based supply chain and an e-commerce market for the cannabis industry.

But, even more interestingly, says Miro, is that the Blockchain technology can be adopted and stratified on existing Internet protocols, which means that a solution could be launched in collaboration with Health Canada. "Blockchain can not only help the Canadian government to ensure that cannabis crops are legally cultivated, but it can also ensure that consumers can know the exact origin of the products they have purchased, as well as their effects on potency and health. ".

Is Blockchain just an "e-fad", or is the e-future for the cannabis industry?

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Blockchain is accurate, traceable, authentic and consistent, adds Miro, which are incredibly important when it comes to selling cannabis to Canadian consumers. OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP / Getty Images

OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP / Getty Images

The amount of data available to us today is a huge opportunity and a huge challenge, says Owen. "A lot of the information out there is out of control," he says. "But blockchain allows us to deliberately model the flow of such information, which is especially important when it comes to areas that affect our health and safety, and cannabis is one of those areas."

Blockchain is accurate, traceable, authentic and consistent, adds Miro, which are incredibly important when it comes to navigating the sale of cannabis to Canadian consumers. Miro believes that blockchain will become an integral part of the solution to the problems of regulation, sale and distribution of cannabis in this country. "Under the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45), Health Canada will develop a national tracking system to ensure that the market complies with current laws," he says. "The best tracking systems are all blockchain-based, so it's just a matter of time before the solutions adopt the technology."

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