IBM Wants Canada to Shore Up Its Cannabis Industry with Blockchain Tech


In April, Canada made the decision to legalize non-medical cannabis. While the substance won’t be officially legalized until July of 2018, the government of British Columbia is working to put together regulation, and IBM wants to see blockchain tech applied for regulatory oversight to the soon-to-be minted industry.

In a document proposal to the government of British Columbia, IBM argues that blockchain technology, an online distributed ledger where every transaction is processed and permanently recorded, can given both regulatory oversight as well as ensure consumer safety in the legal distribution of cannabis.  

IBM noted that blockchain technology would give “provenance and traceability” of cannabis products throughout the cannabis supply chain, eliminating fraud.

The document highlighted that Blockchain could be applied in the regulation of cannabis similar  “to its many chain of custody applications in areas such as pharmaceutical distribution and food chains.”

IBM isn’t, by any means, the only one pushing blockchain tech to solve the issue of transparency in a legalized  cannabis industry. Tokken, a U.S.-based startup focused on using blockchain technology to provide sustainable and transparent solutions in the cannabis industry, sees blockchain technology as the tool that will allow the cannabis industry to flourish.

“The blockchain’s ledger is a great communication tool for regulators,” Tokken founder, and former regulator, Lamine Zarrad said. “If we can transfer the cash flow to an electronic format, you [can also] eliminate most the risk of money laundering.”

Not a bad idea for an industry that, at present, is almost entirely done in cash.

Cadence is a fintech reporter and writer at Fintech Unltd, where she covers the changing landscape of financial technologies. Previously, Cadence interned at Psychology Today, Business Insider and the Wisconsin State Journal. Cadence is interested in how science and technology intersect with power and culture and is curious about the world we are creating for tomorrow, consciously or not. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2017 with degrees in Journalism and Chinese. Send tips and story ideas to Cadence at [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter @cadencebambenek.