Rhode Island wants to put cannabis on the blockchain

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Parsl
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Cannabis, Technology
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Exciting things are happening with cannabis, blockchain and Rhode Island.

The Parsl team have been working hard the past few weeks putting together a proposal for Rhode Island’s cannabis tracking platform and on Friday it was submitted.

Rhode Island isn’t the first US State to put out a tender for a cannabis tracking system but what makes this so exciting is that Rhode Island’s request for proposal specifically stated they wanted a blockchain backed tracking system. In fact Rhode Island in general is looking to adopt blockchain for government use.

We think this is awesome news. Parsl is passionate about the transformative power blockchain will be bringing to all sorts of industries over the next decade and for a government body to be putting their weight behind the technology in a big way is very forward thinking.

On top of that, the tracking system that Rhode Island wants for their cannabis industry is exactly what Parsl can deliver.

Here are just a few snippets of key requirements from the state’s official proposal request and how Parsl is custom built to address them:

“To inform the state with respect to the ease and simplicity by which consumers can interact with the Blockchain solution to both record their licensing or other information and to later verify license or registration status;

One of the key features of Parsl’s technology is that the core functionality works using technology that is already widely available, including in most modern smartphones.

To participate in a Parsl system consumers simply need to:

  1. Get KYC’d using Parsl’s online registration system or at a Parsl designated retail location
  2. Carry a smartcard
  3. Pay for any cannabis products using their smart card

Parsl technology can then automate the verification and approval of any transaction made and record it to the blockchain. For the consumer nothing consequential changes except their method of payment but all relevant information from a business compliance and regulatory point-of-view is verified and stored on the blockchain.

“To identify potential cost-savings of a blockchain-based solution over traditional/legacy platforms or processes;

One of the most significant costs for legitimate cannabis businesses is maintaining adequate product tracking and compliance. The time and money involved in maintaining records drives prices up and makes it hard for them to compete with parallel black market influences.

This was one of the early issues that Parsl identified as needing a solution when the project was first conceived.

Parsl allows regulators the opportunity to save enormous amounts of money through hosting and compressing data on-chain. However, more crucially, it helps to make the entire process of cannabis tracking and compliance more light-weight and automated.

Instead of having to employ staff members specifically for data entry to satisfy state-mandated compliance records (which often aren’t accurate anyway), Parsl is able to verify the identities of actors within the chain, check their level of access to certain products and record the secure handover of products meaning much of the process happens via the act of transferring the products.

“To inform strategic technology planning vis-a-vis the potential impact of blockchain technologies on core government duties, supporting infrastructure, and budget cycle variability;

The Parsl platform is designed to support core government duties in several areas including licensing, consumer verification, collection of tax, assistance to law enforcement and even the gathering of sentiment about cannabis laws specific to the jurisdiction a consumer is from.

The reason Parsl’s capabilities are so broad is that it has been designed not just as a way of tracking the sale of cannabis products but as a complete cannabis eco-system where all the relevant information on verified participants in the cannabis industry can be stored on the blockchain and accessed by people who have adequate permission levels.

“To identify opportunities for future collaboration with local governments, other states, the Federal Government, and industry coalitions to mutual benefit;

Parsl’s vision is to facilitate the global trade of cannabis by managing and tracking the entire global supply chain. Parsl will be working to provide international standardisation of processes, data structures, practices and more in respect to the global cannabis industry. This would include classification of products, packaging, labelling, regulations and more.

We believe that this is what the legal cannabis needs and where it is inevitably heading. That is why we believe that the first regulatory body to implement our complete system will have the opportunity to be the genesis jurisdiction for where this all happens.

By working together with officials from the government in Rhode Island, Parsl sees an exciting opportunity to position the state as a leader in the global market.

Citizens of the state can be integrated into a process of reforming laws and regulations so that their democratic desires are able to be fully realized by government officials and regulators. The Parsl platform is designed to gather sentiment from KYC’d users in the platform, which contains their residential address so that all feedback and sentiment that is gathered can be made highly granular in terms of the advice for local regulators so that they can make fully informed decisions on things such as where different types of cannabis business can be located and how many can be in each area.

The data generated will be stored on a blockchain that is public, and so will be accessible by the Federal US Government and other governments for the purpose of assisting with organising their own cannabis programs using the same standards and framework as that which will be deployed in Rhode Island.

“To compile data and observations relevant to evaluating the suitability of blockchain technologies in other areas of Rhode Island State Government;

The Parsl platform is comprehensive in terms of the parts that would be required to run a cannabis program in the state of Rhode Island, which also sets the state up for trade across state, federal and international lines, when regulations will permit it.

Through this, there is the requirement for Parsl to facilitate many processes which take place under the auspices of the Government which overlap with other functions performed by the state of Rhode Island.

For example, Parsl’s system is able to track cannabis products fully and completely with full chain-of-custody information compiled into a lifecycle. This could be modified to also track things such as criminal investigative evidence or anything else that needs to be tracked.

Additionally, Parsl has developed a licensing and registration system for cannabis businesses that could be modified for general use by the state of Rhode Island for tenders, registration and licensing of anything that is done by the state.

Lastly, the sentiment gathering that is done using the Parsl platform could be extended to allow the state of Rhode Island to collect sentiment from registered citizens/voters on a range of issues beyond just cannabis.

“Blockchain technologies hold the potential to change the nature of data gathering and records retention for governments. A blockchain-based technology could open up possibilities for individuals and businesses to contribute canonical data on Rhode Island business climate, economic productivity, barriers to success, strategic advantages and disadvantages of regulatory regimes, etc.

A key feature of Parsl is the way we utilise the two-way information flow in our supply-chain tracking.

This allows businesses not just to accurately track their products but to collect information and feedback on specific product at the consumer end of the supply chain and trace all the way back to the products origin.

This allows any business to pinpoint problems in their operations in a highly specific and targeted way. Rates of spoilage, product loss or even just positive and negative reviews on products can be analysed and common factors can be identified down to the environmental conditions the plant was grown in.

This level of granular data gives every participant in the supply chain the ability to make informed decisions about their business and also the changes the industry needs.

“Records – State agencies accept submissions from businesses and individuals that areconsidered official records. Blockchain technology could be useful in registering andverifying these submissions, as well as any interaction with them by any party.

Problems currently exist with most state licensing and registration platforms. Generally they are difficult to use, not transparent, aesthetically poor and open to corruption.

Parsl technology has the capacity to implement a system where applications happen on-chain to provide transparency for the process. Once licensing and registration is completed, using Parsl technology, businesses can be KYC’ed to the level required and then this can form the basis of the process required for their application for banking and financial services.

The platform will then be able to simply collect fees for regulators as well as provide the appropriate notification to licensees when their licenses are about to expire providing a streamlined operational framework.

“Investigative Evidence Control and Chain of Custody – Many State agencies, but particularly DBR’s Medical Marijuana and Building, Design, and Fire Professionals Divisions mount criminal investigations and prosecutions. Blockchain technology could potentially assist in crafting an authoritative record of chain-of-custody for criminal investigative evidence

This is exactly what Parsl’s Law Enforcement module will achieve.

Currently it is difficult for Law Enforcement to easily differentiate between legal and illegal cannabis products. Parsl will allow law enforcement to  identify a person in the context of the cannabis industry and allow them to interrogate the blockchain in real time and view the current or potential inventory of each and every person to see what cannabis products they should or should not have in their possession.

On top of that, by using the Parsl platform, law enforcement are able to scan cannabis products to see who the current owner of a product is and determine if it is in the wrong hands. It will also put records of interaction between law enforcement and users on the blockchain, so that if a dispute arises there is a transparent record of what was investigated and what was found, protecting both sides from malicious activity and false claims.

Parsl will also be a powerful tool for law enforcement on a broader scale, as the blockchain will be an immutable record of the movement of cannabis and cannabis related financial activity. This means that for any investigation into black market influences on the legal cannabis industry, irregularities will be easy to detect and analyse, no matter when they happened.

“Antifraud – Many sectors regulated by the State contain the risk of fraudulent activity. Furthermore, several of these sectors are vulnerable to becoming victims of fraud themselves. Verification of business transactions through the use of blockchain technology could open a secure, industry-wide system to limit this risk.

Our closed eco-system tracking means that once users are verified within the system, Parsl technology can automate the verification and approval of any transaction they try to make making it close to impossible to commit fraud with any cannabis related transaction.

To further strengthen this security, consumers will buy cannabis products with a Parsl issued smartcard they must use to participate within the system. This will also give the system a real world touchpoint to help to secure against any form of online-only malicious attacks from hackers and prevent users from exceeding purchasing limits by having a global identity within the cannabis context.

Author: Parsl