Blockchains- Not just for Cryptocurrency

By BCB Staff Writer | October 2, 2020

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Now that the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal, the FDA is paying less attention to the CBD industry. Although that gives farmers and brands more leeway with how the CBD is used, it also opens a lot of cracks regarding industry transparency.

Similarly to how some cannabusinesses are implementing QR coding systems to keep products straight and consumers educated, sorting technology has also evolved. Blockchains work in a similar way to how a Google Doc works. Anyone who has access to a link has access to the document and full editing capabilities. Though this has the potential to cause confusion and logging discrepancies, Google Docs also has a “Version History” tab, which highlights all changes anyone had made to the document, when these occurred, and who changed the content. 

Blockchains, known most commonly associated with the technology and software behind cryptocurrency, are a way to backtrack movement of a product. In the context of cryptocurrency, the object being moved is money. In the context of the CBD industry, this could be a way to log the movement of hemp and track where it’s been to allow consumers more transparency when buying. A blockchain originates from the word block, which refers to a set of data which is inputted into a system, and the word chain, which refers to the history of change the block of data went through.

If a shipment of hemp was, for example, labeled “123” by the cultivators, that “123” name would forever be linked to that shipment. If someone along the supply chain changed its label to “ABC,” the “ABC” would remain the name of the shipment, but the shipment itself would always link back to the source “123”. In that way, shipments of hemp, even if tampered with, can always be linked back directly through the supply chain and back to the cultivators. Each system within the supply chain’s network would be sent a copy of the “123” entry with full editing privileges in order to supply updates and informative additions to the chain. Instead of staying on that single computer or system, all of that information would be linked to the product, or in this case a shipment, forever.

 

Blockchains, known most commonly associated with the technology and software behind cryptocurrency, are a way to backtrack movement of a product. In the context of cryptocurrency, the object being moved is money. In the context of the CBD industry, this could be a way to log the movement of hemp and track where it’s been to allow consumers more transparency when buying.

 

For example, a shipment of hemp would start out labeled, “Hemp Shipment – Colorado Farms” to denote the shipment type and where it originated. Then, when the hemp was sent to a distillery to begin the process of CBD extraction, it would be tagged with the name of that distillery: “Hemp Shipment – California Extraction Services.” Furthermore, when the CBD was sent to a third-party lab, that movement would also register in the supply chain as “Hemp Shipment – Test & Test Testing Co.” This chain of edits would naturally mimic the movement of the hemp, creating a digital trail for retailers and distilleries to turn to in the event that product transparency is requested. In addition, this log of information also shows data such as ingredients, planting history, where distillation began, what tools were used on a specific day of cultivation, and how the industrial hemp got into their hands.

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