Medical Genomics Corporation (MGC) are collaborating with various medicinal cannabis cultivators and dispensaries to record and monitor the genomes of cannabis strains on Bitcoin’s blockchain. By recording the DNA sequence of cannabis strains on the blockchain, this means that it cannot be manipulated and will ensure the consistency and quality of medicinal varieties.
The challenges patients are faced with is the inconsistency of strains that persist from the same growers due to the slight changes in the way that cannabis is cultivated. These differences translate into varying THC/CBD proportions, which have a significant impact on the effectiveness of treating patient’s symptoms. Various patients, depending on their illness, will require a particular cannabinoid profile for effective treatment. If the strain they are given deviates from their required cannabinoid properties, the symptoms will be unrelieved.
MGC’s application of Bitcoin has the potential to become a worldwide inventory of strains that are available. Due to this development, a patient no longer needs to take a leap of faith with a grower or dispensary. Given that the DNA of strains will be displayed for all to see, patients will have full information on the THC/CBD content, thereby reducing the asymmetric information in the market. Also, this innovation will serve as an invaluable tool for doctors to scrutinize and select the appropriate strain for their patients.
Building an inventory of strains that are available will reduce the likelihood of copycat strains proclaiming medical benefits. One notable strain is Charlotte’s Web, which has a high CBD content and has been hailed as a successful treatment for epilepsy and seizures. With this worldwide cannabis inventory, consumers can be sure that their specimen of Charlotte’s Web is bona fide. Furthermore, strains that are in the public domain will be safe from large pharmaceutical companies, who are likely to want to patent strains such as Charlotte’s Web.
Cannabis grower and consultant, Jennifer Martin, highlights the industry’s fear of ‘Big Pharma’ crowding out the ‘little guy’, which could be prevented with MGC’s plans for bitcoin and cannabis strains:
“It’s seen as the big guys versus the little guys. There are a lot of people who are afraid of ‘Big Ag’ and ‘Big Pharma’ coming in and taking over.”
Professor of molecular biology, Mowgli Holmes, elaborates on how MGC’s latest development can prevent smaller growers from getting outmuscled:
“If a plant clearly exists in the public domain you can’t patent it. If you have genetic information on the plant, it is easier to protect it and keep it free and available.”
The unique fingerprint for each strain is recorded into Bitcoin’s blockchain through DNA sequencing via MGC’s Proprietary StrainSEEKTM service. The genetic registration benefits smaller growers, encouraging competition and innovation, as Kevin McKernan, chief scientific officer at MGC, states:
“The current industry nomenclature for identifying and characterizing the medical benefits of strains has no consistency, reliability, or association with the quality and/or effectiveness of the product used by patients… We now have the tools to decipher the genetics driving the medicinal properties of cannabis strain. Furthermore, this information can be linked into a distributed ledger to serve as the basis for claims about intellectual property, branding, and scientific discovery.”
MGC have chosen the Bitcoin blockchain since it has stood the test of time, whereby the network has not experienced a severe exploit during its entire existence, that is since January 2009. Due to this reason, there is no need for MGC to create their own blockchain simply to monitor cannabis strains.
The medicinal cannabis industry, with an estimated worth of $6 billion, may not be the only plant-based industry that will benefit from quality control on the blockchain. This concept can also be applied to the organic food industry, where immutable certifications guarantee quality and safety for consumers. While the regulations in the US for the food and crop industries are well developed, in contrast, regulation for the nascent medicinal cannabis industry are almost non-existent.
However, Bitcoin will provide a market-based, decentralized approach to regulating medicinal cannabis, ensuring quality, safety, and consistency for patients.