Thailand seeks to be a leader in the cannabis industry in Asia. They recently took a big step forward with the announcement that the country’s industry will use blockchain technology to create a secure supply chain for medical marijuana and also for the poppy straw material used in pharmaceutical opioid production.
Blockchain is a shared immutable ledger for recording the history of transactions. The concept has been most publicly associated with the BitCoin system but has already been used for tracking pharmaceuticals. For that reason it became a natural answer for cannabis. It can likewise be applied to tracking the movement of any type of goods through a supply chain with every transaction verified along the way. Most importantly the goal is to make it easy to track the goods and avoid the entry of fake supplies, stolen merchandise and black market goods from infiltrating the system.
A deal has been struck between British blockchain company, FarmaTrust and supply chain consultants Peterson Projects and Solutions Asia with the goal of creating new jobs, industry investment and expansion within Thailand. This comes in the wake of recent movement to legalize cannabis in the Asian nation. Their parliament is moving a medical cannabis bill through that system and it is expected to pass.
It would legalize medical cannabis for patients with a valid prescription from their doctor. They cannot grow pot but can purchase it over the counter. This will make Thailand a leader in the use of medical cannabis in Asia. This is a country that has been known in the past for particularly draconian laws and harsh penalties for drug possession. “They seem to be serious about medical marijuana”, according to a recent report from Cannabis.net.
Rachel Zedek, a spokesperson for Peterson Projects and Solutions in Thailand described blockchain as “a new tool to enhance supply chain management”, which will be critical to growing both the medical marijuana and poppy industries in Thailand, according to a recent report in SecuringIndustry.com. Reducing the amount of counterfeit drugs is a major concern for these emerging industries. “We will be working together to help create new opportunities and solve some pretty serious challenges”, Zedek also reported. She went on to say that the use of blockchain will apply this better technology to create new efficiencies and opportunities that will include small farmers, communities and low income consumers.
Raja Sharif, chief executive for FarmaTrust says this partnership is an exciting development. “For us this is the next step in helping to create a fully transparent drug chain. By partnering with Peterson, we will harness their expertise in Asia to create safe, transparent and high-quality supply chains to eliminate counterfeit drugs. The ultimate goal is to save lives using blockchain technology and to help Peterson and their supply partners meet their legal requirements and coordinate efficiently.”
As Thailand moves forward they join a growing list of countries around the globe and states within America that are legalizing medical marijuana. The global market is now pegged at over $56 billion and growing. The concept has taken hold among Thai legislators, state officials, some of the country’s health experts and the National Farmers Council which recently declared their intention of making the country a medical marijuana hub for the Asian region. The now pot-feisty nation has also announced government approval for a five-year test program to grow hemp commercially for medical usage.
For all the countries and states legalizing medical cannabis but not yet making the leap to recreational use, they must deal with the problems of keeping the supply chain safe, stopping illicit black market goods but still create industry growth. Issues like fake goods, mislabeled cannabis oil, and black market competition will continue to plague the industry as it expands. Partnerships like this one in Thailand is working on the solutions.