The Euphoric Mix of Blockchain and Marijuana

The Euphoric Mix of Blockchain and Marijuana

By Dr. Tom Keenan

Tech Style

What do cannabis and blockchain have in common, aside from being smoking-hot topics in Canada right now? One answer is that managing legal cannabis raises big problems and the blockchain might provide big answers.

We know from Canada’s experience with medical marijuana that meticulous “seed to sale” tracking is vitally important. This could be a tailor made application for blockchain, which is essentially a distributed ledger that’s hard to fudge.

Blockchain is the basis for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which has a publicly viewable ledger that anyone can check. There are people all over the world making sure that if you spend a Bitcoin (or, more likely, a fraction of a Bitcoin), you can’t spend it again.

A blockchain approach has been tested by Walmart for tracking products such as Chinese pork and Mexican mangoes. One goal is to be able to pull them off the shelves quickly in case of a recall. IBM, which is seeking to become a big player in the blockchain space, provided the technology for this through its open source Hyperledger Fabric.

I recently attended the Distributed: Health Conference in Nashville, and it was clear that health care companies are very keen on this technology. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists could put your health information onto a secure distributed ledger. Then, if you wanted to change doctors, or add a new one, you could simply give that person permission to access your records on the blockchain.

Of course, the devil is in the details. Who will design it? Who will build and maintain it? Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created a pilot system called MedRec. They needed to find a way to encourage “miners” – the folks who use their computing power to maintain the integrity of the blockchain.

With Bitcoin, that incentive is pretty straightforward. Miners get a small commission, in Bitcoin of course, for their efforts. The MIT researchers suggest that health organizations might prefer their compensation in the form of anonymized data about patients that, with permission, could be used for medical research and diagnosis.

There’s something of a sweet irony in applying blockchain to track marijuana. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are still getting over their bad reputation as vehicles for the sale of illegal products, especially drugs. Law enforcement couldn’t really trace who was buying and selling contrabando in blockchain-based marketplaces such as the Silk Road. Its latest incarnation, Silk Road 3.1, sells “every type of cannabis/weed, psychedelics, opioids, ecstasy, benzos, dissociatives, prescription drugs, stimulants broken down into smaller subcategories, such as DMT, heroin, and cocaine”, according to an online user manual.

There is a certain sweet irony in the possibility that the technology that fuelled Dark Web drug dealing may soon be harnessed to bring order, structure, and, of course, the inevitable collection of taxes, to Canada’s legal marijuana industry.


Dr. Tom Keenan is an award-winning science/technology journalist and professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary

Web watch

IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric: https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/hyperledger.html

MedRec: http://dci.mit.edu/assets/papers/eckblaw.pdf

Silk Road 3.1: https://silkroaddrugs.org/guide-on-how-to-access-the-silk-road-3-0/

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Increase May Lead to Slower-Paced Housing Market | Business Edge News Magazine

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Increase May Lead to Slower-Paced Housing Market

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Increase

May Lead to Slower-paced Housing

Market

By Michael Dingwall

Business Edge News Magazine


In July of 2017, the Bank of Canada raised its interest rates for the first time in about seven years. Since that time, two increases have followed with the most recent on Jan. 17 of this year.

These three rate increases have caused lending institutions to follow suit and raise their mortgage rates. Canadian homebuyers can expect to see rates at least 1% higher than this time last year.

This is a far cry from the almost 20% interest rates seen in the 1980s. However, given that the average first-time homebuyer is roughly 30 years old, many are not old enough to remember the hardship of those times.

According to a recent Ipsos Reid survey, almost 48% of Canadians each month are less than $200 away from being financially insolvent. It is easy to see how even the smallest interest rate increase can lead to major financial hardship.

Let’s look at a sample scenario:

A couple in Calgary buys a single-family home and takes advantage of the ultra-low interest rates in December of 2017 for $520,000. With a 20% down payment they are left with a mortgage of $416,000. This leaves them with a monthly payment of about $1,760. Factoring in the recent Bank of Canada rate increases, their mortgage payment jumps up to $1,915, which translates to an extra $155 per month.

For this couple, that $200 buffer has now turned into $45. With the possibility of more rate increases on the horizon, the ability for new buyers to afford mortgage rate and home price increases will become increasingly difficult. Fallout from these circumstances could include a stall in housing prices.

The outlook is not entirely bleak. This could be an excellent time to enter the market for buyers and investors looking to get a good price on a new home. Whether buying, refinancing, or looking to invest, a mortgage associate can help find the mortgage to fit your needs.

(Michael Dingwall is a mortgage associate with Apex Mortgages. He can be reached at 403 804 4374 or mdingwall@mortgagesbyapex.com)

Blox Labs Enters Blockchain Ecosystem with CannaBLOX | Business Edge News Magazine

Blox Labs Enters Blockchain Ecosystem with CannaBLOX

Blox Labs Enters Blockchain Ecosystem

with CannaBLOX

By Jeff Zanini
Business Edge News Magazine

Blox Labs’ shift into a blockchain technology enterprise was a logical decision after processing the reality that every person and business will potentially have a touch-point to blockchain technology in the near future.

Blox Labs Inc, a boutique technology firm publicly traded on the CSE under the ticker symbol BLOX, has recently entered into a partnership with Canadian cannabis company Liberty Leaf Holdings for the development of a blockchain-based smart contract supply chain management platform for the legalized cannabis industry.

Aptly named cannaBLOX, the joint development project was a logical fit once the respective parties matched up the parallels of Liberty Leaf’s vertically integrated distribution model and Blox Labs’ expertise in supply chain and logistics.

What is blockchain?

It is important to clarify what blockchain isn’t. Blockchain is not Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. It is the underlying technology platform that enables Bitcoin and up to 1,300 other cryptocurrencies with its unique, secure features.

According to the Economist, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains an ever-growing list of records called ‘blocks’. The information in a block cannot be altered retrospectively as each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. The nature of blockchain makes it function as a public, digital, distributed “ledger”.

To simplify, blockchain is a technology that permanently records transactions in a way that cannot be amended, altered, edited, or erased. The transaction can only be updated with the next sequential transaction, which results in keeping an everlasting, chronological trail.

The two slick things about this technology that differentiate it from others are its “decentralized” and “peer-to-peer” characteristics. These allow for impeccable record keeping that creates timestamps of who did what and when. Many industries and software programs (ERP, SFA, CRM, FSR, etc.) spend countless hours assessing this exact problem. With the increasing pressure on regulatory and compliance in a multitude of industries including government, food safety, pharmaceutical, medical and recreational cannabis legalization, and automotive, especially with the occurrence of recalls, in any of these areas, blockchain technology could save thousands of hours and possibly lives. The magnitude of blockchain becomes ever more crucial.

The newer generation of blockchain introduces what’s called Smart Contracts, which is the execution of contracts backed by blockchain software, which will execute contracts as they are written between parties, thus eliminating risks associated with intermediaries, exchange value, releasing data, or releasing payment all while remaining tamper resistant to outside control.

Blox Labs’ cannaBLOX project with Liberty Leaf is backed by Smart Contract technology, creating unique and critical logistical protocols for the distribution of legalized cannabis in Canada.

Blockchain opportunities dovetail particularly well into the logistics sector, in which BLOX Labs has core expertise.

Blockchain is the perfect fit to transform many critical elements of the logistics supply chain, which brings the ecosystem together on a standard platform. A vision in which the customer is sharing first-hand information with the supply chain ecosystem is disruptive.

Blox Labs Inc is focused on best-in-class development of the cannaBLOX offering, while expanding its development team in Eastern Europe for global project. The company is actively assessing further opportunities relating to blockchain and decentralized digital applications.

Jeff Zanini, director & advisor to Blox Labs Inc., is a 25-year veteran of the Canadian logistics industry, having held various senior level executive positions within multi-national organizations. Further info can be found at www.bloxlabs.ca