According to a notice published on Monday (June 3), Rhode Island hopes that blockchain technology can be harnessed to help the state to track medical marijuana and identify illegal actors.
The state has called on blockchain technology developers to submit concepts from which the state will select a provider to develop a system that is customized for the medical marijuana program in Rhode Island.
In a press release, the department of Business Regulation revealed that the call for concepts is a challenge to the blockchain companies to showcase their value to government institutions by testing blockchain technology applications within government entities.
The notice published was categorical in stating that Rhode Island was seeking technology which would increase the visibility of the medical marijuana industry from seed to sale so that opportunities for fraud and abuse could be reduced.
Additionally, blockchain technology could also assist different government agencies in designing an authoritative record of the chain-of-custody during the gathering of evidence while criminal investigations are conducted. This is particularly needed for the enforcement of marijuana laws.
Rhode Island looks at this as the first step towards understanding how blockchain technology can facilitate the improvement of government processes now and in the future.
Bijay Kumar, Rhode Island’s CIO added that he was “excited to see the possibilities regarding the ways in which this technology is helping public and private entities become more innovative in security, business and other areas.”
Developing new technologies to track cannabis sales has taken on an increasing level of urgency given that financial institutions are reluctant to work with marijuana businesses for fear that the federal government will take enforcement action against them. A reliable tracking system can provide assurance that only state-legal marijuana is passing through the system, and this can provide a basis for banks and other institutions to defend themselves.
Jared Moffat, Marijuana Policy Project’s political director in Rhode Island, welcomed the move by the state government to explore new ways to make the medical cannabis program more efficient.
While the notice doesn’t make any reference to medical marijuana banking, Rhode Island seems interested in using the encryption of the blockchain technology system to track the transactions which take place within the industry. This will provide a trail for regulators to confirm that the companies are paying the requisite taxes and no marijuana from licensed growers is leaking out to the black market.
Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) and Net Element Inc. (NASDAQ: NETE) commend Rhode Island for being forward-looking and seeking to deploy blockchain technology in the nascent medical marijuana industry.
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