How the Stigma Surrounding Cannabis Will Soon be a Thing of The Past



From the very moment we are born we’re slowly injected with societies views and values. We are brought up to think a certain way, dress a certain way and conform to the many expectations placed on us. 

Sometimes these views are universal and are found in most cultures throughout history, others are very much of their time. But it can sometimes be hard to determine one from the other when it has been something you have grown up being taught as ‘fact’

In modern times, one of these societal values has been built around the demonization of cannabis which was visible during the reefer madness period. 

Despite having legitimate claims to being the world’s oldest cultivated crop, cannabis has come to have a negative perception in society.

While many would point to the psychoactive state cannabis produces as the root of its illicit status and stigma, this alone does not justify the negative views some people have. People have been conspiring against a natural plant while sipping a glass of scotch and retreating to a night of rest with the help of a sleeping tablet. General anaesthesia and morphine is administered to patients with no judgment and cancer patients are quite literally injected with poisons as a form of treatment yet no one bats an eye. 

None of this is to say any of the above is fundamentally malicious, but it does demonstrate how there is a double standard to the stigma that exists around cannabis and cannabis consumption.

Up until very recently, governments and the media have continued to fuel this stigma which is now instilled in the minds of many as a fact and legalization alone is not going to end this mind frame. So what will?

What happened to cause the stigma around cannabis? 

Despite the negative perception of cannabis held by modern day society, cannabis (or hemp) has actually been used for centuries, dating back 10,000 years. In fact one of America’s own founding fathers, George Washington, owned his own hemp farm and the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. 75% to 90% of all paper in the world was actually made from hemp at the time, as were clothes, sails and food. The medicinal qualities of cannabis have also been known for quite some time and were incorporated into Western medicine as early as the 1830’s

However it has also had a significant history as a banned substance across various cultures in the last 250 years.

While it has become part of the cultural narrative on cannabis legalization that origin of the stigmatization of cannabis dates back to the 1900s when an influx of Mexican immigrants came to the US, the earliest recorded instance of cannabis prohibition dates back to 1378 in Arabia when Emir of Joneima ordered all plants destroyed and anyone convicted of using ‘hashish’ to have their teeth pulled out.

The word ‘hashish’ was also associated with the Assassins, a well known medieval Shiite sect who would send their assassins to kiss enemies with daggers. Although the Assassins and the recreational habit of smoking hashish had very little connection, it is easy to see why this added to the stigma around cannabis within Arabic culture.

It wasn’t until the late 1700’s that cannabis prohibition really started picking up steam with countries like Madagascar and Egypt among the first to act. While there are different circumstances for every instance of countries criminalising or restricting the use of cannabis, most cases fall under three categories.

  1. Concern about cannabis’s use as a vice.
  2. Stigmatization of the drug through linking its use to a group that was considered ‘outside regular society’ and considered less than the rest of society.
  3. Pressure from powerful countries on the world stage.

The first two points are often intrinsically linked. In some countries the ‘others’ that were stigmatised for their use of cannabis were degenerates and criminals, like in Greece however more often than not, the stigmatization was implicitly or explicitly tied up in racist overtones.

The Canadian parliament criminalised cannabis after public opinion was whipped up to a hysterical state publication called the Black Candle which stated that all cannabis users where  “non-white and non-Christian, wanting only to seduce white women” and that there was “an international conspiracy of yellow and black drug pushers” intent on the  “domination of the bright proud races of the world”. (source)

In Brazil, cannabis was seen as “opium of the poor” and a politician at the time of prohibition talked of “the pernicious and degenerative vice” of cannabis smoking as a kind of “revenge of the defeated”. He identified cannabis as the revenge of the “savage” blacks against “civilized” whites who had enslaved them. (source)

Much of the same thing happened with other drug prohibitions, particularly in regards to the use of opium in parts of the world where Chinese immigration spread. It is no coincidence that the increase in laws prohibiting cannabis began around the same time as globalisation as countries around the world were exposed to ‘vices’ from other cultures.

The tide is turning

After decades of laws prohibiting cannabis use and possession, the pendulum is very quickly swinging the other way. This decade, 35 laws have been passed around the world that in some way make access to cannabis less restrictive. (source)

However, though the laws are changing facts, it is not a foregone conclusion that the stigma that prohibition cultivated will disappear as well.

Today, cannabis users are generally regarded as ‘stoners’ and ‘lazy slackers’ and have been branded by society to be less than those who don’t use the plant. Research has shown that legalization does little to change that stereotype

So what exactly will help to rebrand cannabis and end the stigma? 

Brands working to end the stigma surrounding cannabis

Whilst the spread of cannabis legalization is slowly encouraging change, there needs to be a shift on a more familiar level to push for societal change. Brands and businesses have a big impact on society’s views and values. Cannabis-related brands are using this influence to rebrand cannabis by the way cannabis is marketed and represented image through reimagining the way cannabis is presented and marketed.

From luxurious dispensaries to beautifully crafted edibles and cannabis accessories, brands are focusing on every small detail to shift the entire cannabis experience. 

Below are six brands that we think are helping to shift the way society feels about cannabis with a new attitude that is confident and slick through leaving behind the cliches and rethinking the aesthetics of cannabis products and packaging.   

Medmen

Medmen is one of the most well known cannabis dispensaries in America. They not only sell high quality and high end cannabis products but are also actively pushing to rebrand the typical cannabis perception of ‘stoner’ to the new normal. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g74sc4O8vqg

Earlier in the year, Medmen created their first-ever commercial which detailed the journey of cannabis from George Washington cultivating hemp to individuals being sentenced for possession of the same plant. Towards the end of the ad there is a montage of everyday people going about their everyday lives as the narrator states that “the symbol of counter culture is at long last just culture”. The company’s efforts to positively transform the negative connotations surrounding cannabis is such a great initiative and we’re excited to see what else the brand produces! 

Eaze

Eaze is a San Francisco based application that allows patients to get medical cannabis delivered straight to their homes in under 20 minutes. It is currently delivering CBD to 45 states and the District of Columbia. Not only can consumers using the app purchase high quality cannabis grown by legal, licensed and thoroughly tested growers, but can also be at the forefront of knowledge on the health benefits of cannabis. 

The ease of Eaze adds a casual feel to the purchasing of cannabis, placing it with the likes of Uber Eats and other home delivery services that we have become accustomed to. As cannabis slowly becomes just another part of everyday life, people will begin to accept it as just that. The aesthetics of the app are simple and add to the casual tone of the brand, it looks like any other food delivery of ride-sharing app. 

Sweetflag 

Sweetflag is an online retailer for beautifully designed home goods, accessories and smoking accessories. The website really focuses on the entire experience of smoking cannabis and portrays it as a beautiful journey through separating products into the before, during and after stage. Boasting simple yet elegant visuals you feel an overwhelming sense of calm just from browsing the intricate product designs. 

The website is bursting with artistic vision and completely transforms the typical stoner image associated with cannabis products. 

1906

1906 is an edibles brand that is redefining the way we currently think of edibles through creating delicious products that are fast acting. The effects of their products can be felt in as little as 20 minutes which allows users to get a more accurate dose with precise and predictable results. There are 5 different edible experiences users can choose from, depending on if they’re looking for improving energy levels, relaxation, cognitive function, mood, sex or sleep. 

As 1906 states on their website, “We are on a mission to bring cannabis back to its pre-prohibition status as a mainstream, widely used medicine for the greater good.” Judging on their sophisticated design and high quality products we think that 1906 will soon become a friend to many and help this new image of cannabis become mainstream. 

Gossamer

Gossamer is a NYC-based online newsletter that “looks at the world- travel, design, art, culture and food- through a green lens” The newsletter focuses on the notion that cannabis is simply a normal part of life. There doesn’t need to be a strong focus on cannabis itself, but more so on the outlook of the world under the effects of cannabis. They create content that delivers the feeling of a ‘great high’ whether that is through interviews, features, photo essay or, recommendations. 

We think this is such a unique way of portraying cannabis culture, it doesn’t make a big deal about cannabis itself, but celebrates the way it makes people feel. Initiatives like these are what is working to end the stigma surrounding cannabis and we couldn’t be more interested in the project!  

Tetra 

Tetra is a New York City-based online retailer who sells high end cannabis accessories. When browsing through the beautifully designed website it feels as though you’re shopping for an art piece rather than cannabis accessories. Every product is uniquely designed and follows a lovely aesthetic and ‘celebrat[es] the new rituals of smoking through a lens of great design.’ 

As well as offering brands from other retail stores, Tetra manufactures their own products designed by up and coming designers. It’s not hard to see that Tetra’s focus on aesthetics transforms the cannabis experience into something rather beautiful. 

It is time that the cannabis stigma be put to bed and there is so much promise of this. With the rise of brands aiming to end the stigma surrounding cannabis through producing beautifully designed stores, edibles and accessories, people will start to wake up and realise they have been hating something that provides so many benefits. 



What our president in North America has been up to

While out core team is working to bring the Parsl product to market, our president in North America, Mark Crandell, has been quite busy over recent weeks making connections and meeting with important figures to let Parsl hit the ground running when we officially launch. 

Meeting with the Nevada State Treasurer for the “Closed-Loop Marijuana Banking Pilot Program” 

A bill was recently passed into law in Nevada which creates a pilot program for a closed-loop payment system in the State Treasurer’s Office. The Pilot Program would provide legal cannabis businesses, their vendors and employees, as well as government workers a safe, reliable and efficient method of processing financial transactions. 

The State Treasurer’s Office will contract with one or more qualified vendor(s) to create and administer a closed-loop system for the program. As this type of system is right in line with the service Parsl offers, Mark attended the Vendor Stakeholder Meeting on September 30 in Nevada. 

Mark had met with the Nevada State Treasurer, Zach Conine, Sr. Policy Director, Erik Jimenez and Sr. Policy Director, Kristen Van Ry (author of the upcoming RFP) to discuss potential stakeholders of Nevada’s “Closed-Loop Mariijuana Banking Pilot Program”.  

We came to learn that in the coming weeks the State Treasury of Nevada will be sending out an RFP for the closed loop cashless payment tracking system which Parsl is eagerly awaiting. 

Essentially, the State of Nevada realizes the disadvantages and dangers of a cash based industry and essentially wants to remove the amount of cash in the cannabis system. To mention just a few of the reasons behind the creation of the Pilot Program:

  • To reduce the risks to the safety and welfare placed on the public due to the holding, distribution and transportation of large amounts of cash
  • To provide cannabis and medicinal cannabis establishments with a safe, secure and convenient method of paying state and local taxes 
  • To provide the government a safe method of collecting taxes from cannabis businesses 
  • To provide transparent financial transactions related to cannabis businesses 

The way the system will operate will be through the use of fixed-value tokens for all transactions. Tokens will be created with an equivalent amount of USD and will be used among consumers, cannabis businesses, employees and suppliers. 

This proposed system has a lot of equivalents with the solution Parsl utilizes with the use of our smartcoin, PODs. 

The cycle of the token will begin with actual cash used to initially purchase the tokens. These tokens will then be used to purchase goods and services, the supplier will use the tokens to pay the final vendor, the final vendor will request the redemption of the tokens and then finally the system will redeem the tokens into USD. 

In addition to this, Nevada imagines a second phase of this program whereby digital tokens could be used by dispensaries to pay merchants (i.e. utilities, repairs. etc.) 

The system is expected to be successfully running by July 1, 2020. 

The 2019 US Cannabis Symposium 

Mark also attended the US Cannabis Symposium in Toronto, Canada earlier in October. The one-day event featured company presentations and one-on-one meetings with senior management teams which represented all aspects of the U.S. cannabis industry. This included technology providers, brand owners, hemp producers, oil extractors and ancillary products businesses. 

Overall, Mark attended 19 meetings throughout the day with key figures in the cannabis industry. He gained valuable insight from those in the best positions in the industry, below are a few of the common themes that we took away from the meetings: 

The financial aspect of the cannabis industry 

  • It was quite clear that vertically integrated cannabis companies are growing the industry. 
  • While it is good to get to market as fast as possible, if a product isn’t up to scratch it is likely that the product could fail, which is why it is integral to ensure the quality of your product/service prior to launching. 
  • We also discovered that financial failure is currently the trend with mostly every CEO mentioning their declining stock price.

Strategy in the cannabis industry

Many big vertical businesses are buying smaller operations that are;

  • In a strategic state 
  • Holding a coveted license 
  • Dominant in their niche

Technology

  • Many vertical businesses and labs are endorsing new formats for cannabis consumption. 
  • We learnt about water soluble formulations which would allow for edibles to provide a predictable dosing and the effects can take effect within minutes and wear off in only a few hours. 

Geography 

There was a lot of talk about the states that matter most in the battle to legalize cannabis across America and it the Financial community is clearly looking to Illinois in 2020, Florida 2021 and Arizona by 2022. 

Go-to-Market 

The importance of Branding and the Customer Experience (CX) was a common talking point among vertical CEOs. Most spoke about creating step-up brands that guarantee quality to the end user. 


Outlook 

  • It was commonly discussed that small to medium cannabis businesses must create a plan to get through the current down-cycle if they want to succeed in the industry. 
  • Cultivation capacity has mostly come online 
  • The investment in hardware and software technology is the coming force in the cannabis industry and is mostly in B2B 

Mark has had an eventful few weeks and we are so pleased with the outcome of the many meetings he attended. We are incredibly excited to begin sharing what has feasibly come from the meetings in the near future! 

Parsl’s current position on account recovery

Parsl believes very strongly in protecting our users as much as possible. 

This has always been a part of our business outlook. Giving users protection online often involves a balance between privacy and security and this balance is made more complicated by the new paradigms offered by blockchain technology. 

Parsl chose the EOSIO framework to work with in part because it offered the possibility to be able to reverse the potential negative effects of a fully decentralised world such as the threat posed by hackers. The developments around arbitration and governance on the EOS mainnet hasn’t worked thus far and so users who encounter problems are for the most part stuck without a solution. 

The ECAF (EOS Core Arbitration Forum) organisation unfortunately has not accepted claims nor really been operating for a long time, as stated on their home page. There is no alternative route for users that is currently being pursued. 

This means that if Parsl wants to protect our users from malicious activity, we are in a situation where we need to figure out our own solution. 

Early on in the piece, we dealt with an example of just such a problem where one of our early supporters had his account hacked and his SEED compromised. We tried to do the right thing and went through a rigorous process, using our time and expense, and in that specific case we felt that we had arrived at a suitable solution. 

However, in going through this process it was revealed to us how difficult and costly this was. At the time of writing, we still have not implemented our high level identity protocols as these will come along with the rollout of our platform in short order. While we were satisfied with the result of our initial case, we acknowledge that without proper processes for identification we only open up another avenue that malicious actors can abuse.

In the meantime, we have also been working on a relationship with our partner Worbli, and have found that we will be able to leverage the functionality and framework that has already been built and worked on to be able to build a very strong identity framework for all of our users. This means that over the long term all of our users will be able to be protected according to our vision. 

What this does mean is that all such events and claims that occur in the meanwhile will not be dealt with and this situation will remain until our new framework is in place. This is just the reality of the situation we are in. We are really excited about what we are working with Worbli and we strongly believe that it will deliver great value to both our token holders as well as our platform users.

What is the current state of cannabis in Australia?

The Australian cannabis industry is still in its infancy. 

Though cannabis was legalized for medicinal use in 2016, regulations are so strict that few people know about it and those that do struggle to qualify. 

However, with political parties and members of the public advocating for its legalization, the Australian Capital Territory voting to legalize cannabis for personal use and innovative cannabis-related businesses creating high quality products and services, there is massive potential for the future of the Australian Cannabis Industry. 

Current cannabis laws in Australia

Recreational cannabis laws in Australia

Currently, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal across all federal, state and territory laws in Australia except for Australian Capital Territory (which we will explore below). 

While more and more countries are legalizing the personal use of cannabis, Australia is falling behind. So just how close (or far) is the whole country from legalizing it? 

The only state who has made advances to legalize recreational cannabis is the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). As of January 31, people within the ACT will be able to legally smoke cannabis (as long as it is no more than 50g worth) and grow 2 cannabis plants in their homes. 

Unfortunately it is very possible that the bill could be overturned at a federal level. The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has already called it ‘a dopey decision made by dopey people’ and has returned to the ‘Reefer Madness’ rhetoric on sending the wrong message to kids. 

However, even if the law never becomes a reality, the fact that it happened is still a step in the right direction as it is generating word around the topic. 

And in Australia this pattern of legislation being stuck down at a Federal level has a history. The ACT legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 and this was overturned almost immediately. But in 2017 Australia joined the rest of the world and legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

Once more and more states voice their opinions on the topic, the government will have to listen to the demands of the country. 

The ACT isn’t alone in their goals to see recreational cannabis legalized in Australia, the Australian Greens Party is pushing equally as hard. The party has been advocating for full decriminalization and legalization of cannabis, the party has even stated that a legal and regulated cannabis industry would “smash the business model of criminal gangs overnight – putting $2 billion into the economy every year to go towards our schools, hospitals and essential services.”   

Although, after undertaking an in depth analysis, New Frontier Data estimated that if cannabis was legalized within Australia, the market could actually be worth a huge $5 billion annually

The party is also advocating for the establishment of a fully controlled market for the sale and production of cannabis and cannabis-related goods. Although there is a strong push for the legalization of cannabis in Australia, there are still many advances that need to be made before this is actually a sound reality. Even once recreational use of cannabis is legalized strict regulations will be placed on the industry which will likely put restrictions on the public’s access to the products. This scenario is currently occurring in Australia within the medicinal cannabis industry which we will explore below. 

Medicinal cannabis laws in Australia

In 2016, the Australian Parliament passed an amendment to the Narcotics Drugs Act to let cannabis be legally grown for medicinal and scientific purposes, finally starting Australia’s pathway to legalized cannabis.

In 2017, The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), a regulatory body for therapeutic goods in Australia, rescheduled certain medicinal cannabis products to a schedule 8 of the Poisons Standard. 

Since then, all 6 states within Australia have in some form legalized the prescription of medicinal cannabis. Whilst this is a giant leap forward for the industry, there are still several obstacles holding the industry back from thriving. 

Due to strict regulations placed on medicinal cannabis, gaining access to it is an incredibly  complicated process. So although it is legal in Australia, it is still out of reach for many Australian citizens seeking to treat their illness with the medicine and many Australians don’t even know it is available as a treatment option.

Because most medicinal cannabis products are regarded as ‘unregistered products’ they don’t appear in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARGT). People aren’t able to simply go to their GP, obtain a prescription for medicinal cannabis and then get it made up at the pharmacy. They have to enter into a complex process, one that doesn’t have a guaranteed positive outcome.

An individual must visit a doctor who is either an ‘Authorised Prescriber’ or one who is willing to make an application to be approved from both the Commonwealth TGA and The State Health Department to prescribe an unregistered cannabis product to a patient. The application alone requires incredibly detailed information on the proposed drugs. It also requires an explanation on why the doctor believes the medicine will be the best treatment for their patients particular illness. 

Once the doctor determines if the patient is eligible to proceed further, he will supply a prescription which can then be made up at a pharmacy. 

Although this process is available to doctors, there are very few who proceed because they don’t feel confident with applications under the Special Access or Authorised Prescriber schemes. The reasons for their reluctance to participate vary, some don’t feel adequately informed about the safe use of medicinal cannabis. Others may not have access to the detailed information required on applications for the TGA or State/Territory applications or they feel incapable to monitor the patients results after treatment commences. 

Regardless of doctors hesitations, there is a very healthy demand for medicinal cannabis coming from patients. A study of GPs conducted last year, found that more than two out of five GPs had received a request for a prescription for medicinal cannabis from patients within the three months prior to the study. Although there is a strong demand, there are very few patients who are actually gaining access to it on account of the low numbers of doctors willing to assist in the process. 

In the chance that a patient is lucky enough to gain access to medicinal cannabis, it comes at a very hefty cost as no medicinal cannabis is currently available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. For example, Sativex approved to treat multiple sclerosis patients, the cost for a six to eight week supply was about $745.  

Medicinal Cannabis Research is on the rise in Australia 

On October 6, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Olivia Newton John announced that the federal government is pledging $3 million to go towards research for medicinal cannabis. The money will go to examining how cannabis can be used to treat cancer patients with pain, symptoms and other side effects. 

This is a really big step forward, not only for the state of cannabis in Australia, however also for cannabis research in general which is considerably lacking. We went into more on the lack of research in the cannabis industry here

The Institute for Health Research at the University of Notre Dame in Perth will lead a study tracking changes in actual dementia patients to see if cannabis can help. The cannabis used will be lab-grown from Slovenia, researchers are hoping the CBD-heavy strain will reduce the most damaging effects of dementia. 

The economic future of Australia’s Cannabis Trade 

Although the current state of cannabis in Australia is a little rocky, there is huge potential for its future in regards to international trade. 

Australia’s high agricultural industry standards aren’t just beneficial in the traditional sense, these standards could soon see a boom in Australia’s involvement in the global export of cannabis.

Although the Australian cannabis industry is still relatively young in comparison to other countries, there is huge potential for the country to become the “envy of the global market” and become the gateway to the Asian market. 

Kevin Smith, vice president for strategy and business development at Canadian company Emerald Plants Health Source stated “Australia’s reputation for best agricultural practices, crop safety management systems and robust quality control will make Australian-grown cannabis the envy of the global market and provide patients with confidence in this new form of medical treatment” 

This would be huge not only for Australia’s cannabis market, however also the cannabis industry on an international scale as it will introduce a new level of expected quality when it comes to the growing process of cannabis. 

Not only is Australia’s cannabis market expected to grow, it could also possibly be the gateway to the Asian market. A study conducted by London-based cannabis industry lobbyist Prohibition Partners estimates that the Asian market could potentially be worth US$5.8 billion by 2024. This would be huge news for Australia and its own cannabis market. 

Although this is great news for Australia, there are many problems the country has to address within its own market if they want to achieve these global goals. Issues such as heavy finance requirements, a repressive and complex licensing system and the reluctance to actually prescribe medicinal cannabis (despite being legal). 

Australian cannabis businesses to keep an eye on

Elixinol Global (ELX) 

Elixinol Global was formed in January, 2018 and is the baby of Colorado based Elixinol LLC joint forces with Hemp Foods Australia. The structure of the company sees Hemp Foods Australia manufacturing and distributing hemp food products and skincare, while Elixinol LLC is the bulk and retail provider of hemp based CBD dietary supplements and topical creams. The company is currently holding first place on the 2019 Top 20 Cannabis Companies list and is expected to continue rapidly growing! 

Cann Group (CAN) 

Established in 2014, the Cann Group is the first company to be issued with a Cannabis Research Licence by the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control. This authorises the company to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. They have also been issued with Australia’s first Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation Licence which authorises the company to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes. They currently own two Melbourne facilities and a Mildura site expected to be operational by the second half of 2020. Cann’s vision is to be a leading developer and supplier of cannabis and medicinal cannabis products within Australia. 

Althea

Not only is Althea an Australian licensed producer, supplier and exporter of pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis (and even listed publicly on the Australian Securities Exchange). They also offer a range of education, access, and management services to support eligible patients and medical practitioners with navigating the complex medicinal cannabis system. They are currently operating in Australia and the United Kingdom with plans to move into the emerging Asia and European markets. 

Botanix Pharmaceuticals 

Botanix Pharmaceuticals mission is to develop the next generation therapeutics for the treatment of serious skin conditions. The company is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals suffering with acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. To achieve this goal, the company will carry out studies in the field with the end goal of achieving US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. 

The Bottom Line? 

The Australian cannabis industry is a young market, it is only natural that there will be challenges faced before it can fully thrive within the country. However, once these obstacles are crossed and the industry has the chance to flourish, there is massive potential for Australian cannabis to have an international impact. 

Whilst there is a long road to go down before cannabis is completely legal in Australia, the future of the cannabis industry in Australia comes with a world of possibility and excitement.

THC vaping outbreak – The deadly consequences of an unregulated market

26 people have now lost their lives to a mysterious illness caused by the use of e-Cigarettes. 

The CDC has confirmed that there have now been 1,299 lung injuries associated with using e-cigarette, or vaping, products with no sign of decline. 

Another key aspect of the outbreak is that many of the cases involve vaping products that contain THC.

As stated on the CDC’s website, the specific chemical exposure causing the lung injuries is still unknown. 

‘The outbreak is occuring in a dynamic marketplace for e-cigarette, or vaping, products, which may have a mix of ingredients, complex packaging and supply chains, and include potentially illicit substances’ 

‘Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions. Many of the products and substances can be modified by supplier or users…’ 

Studies suggest that it isn’t vaping itself that is causing lung problems but specific chemicals that are put in certain unregulated products.

Electronic smoking devices need stricter regulations to prevent problems like this which will only be done in the context of THC vaping products once cannabis is fully legalized. NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney stated that “the utter lack of regulation on vaping products has made the black market and the legal market nearly indistinguishable” 

Mark Haoshi, CEO and founder of Doja, a cannabis review app stated that “The current black market comes with you know, a cartridge that has a brand that has a social media that has websites.”  

The black market utilizes platforms like the internet to entice people into buying counterfeit products which look legitimate however are anything but. This is a serious transparency issue, especially when you consider how large the black market actually is. Wisconsin authorities uncovered an illegal vape-cartridge operation that was producing thousands of cartridges every day for 2 years. Products that are not tested and pose a serious safety issue on thousands of unsuspecting victims. 

He went onto mention that “the legalization bill would create an organized, well-regulated market with safeguards and oversight. Unlike vaping, the products will be tested, analyzed and approved from seed to sale.” 

But until the government steps up their game and fully determines the state of cannabis legalization, this could be a crucial point for the cannabis industry to determine the measures which will be taken to improve the state of people’s health and safety. The need for transparency within the industry is more clear than ever, it is now a matter of life and death. 

The Ohio governor is calling for a permanent statewide ban on the sale of e-cigarette products. While his intentions are to help people, we believe this would have even worse repercussions as those using e-cigarettes will look to the black market for future purchases. Once this occurs, there will be no viable way to ensure products are safe which puts people at even more risk and continues to feed the black market. 

When vaping is properly regulated and meets all safety standards, the device is a much less harmful alternative to regular smoking and can even be an effective method to help people quit smoking. Researcher Dr. Caitlin Notley from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “E-Cigarettes are at least 95 percent less harmful than tobacco smoking, and they are now the most popular aid to quitting smoking in the UK.” 

Rather than running from the problem through placing a ban on a product that a large majority of the population use, we need to address the reason for this issue at its core.

This outbreak has occurred and continues to occur due to a number of unknowns. Unknown ingredients, unknown supply chains, unknown modifications, unknown origins and the list of unknowns goes on. 

The issue we are facing is an issue of transparency within the cannabis industry. There are limited ways to know entirely where our products are coming from, if they are from legal sources, who is dealing with them along the way and what is actually in the products. This places consumers in a position of blind trust, and unfortunately in 26 instances this trust has been broken and resulted in catastrophic circumstances. 

Consumers don’t and can’t know if they are using a legitimate product or a copy as counterfeiters have created knock-offs of THC vape brands that are legal in California. 

And to be clear, this isn’t just an issue the cannabis industry faces. This is an issue that many industries face and have faced in the past. 

The Takata airbag crisis is a prime example of this. 300 people were injured and 24 died as a result of trusting that the airbags would maintain their safety in the event of a car accident, however, were instead the very thing that put their safety at risk. 

This is why Parsl is so passionate about the transparency of supply chains and why we are dedicated to providing this for the cannabis industry to prevent catastrophic events like the vaping illness crisis. 

Our technology would:

  • Provide full details of a product’s ingredients
  • Provide who has been involved in the process
  • Detect when a product has been tampered with immediately 
  • Notify consumers individually and immediately if a product has been recalled
  • Be able to differentiate illegal cannabis from legal cannabis 

If this system was implemented the likelihood of an event like this would be far less likely and the source of the problem would be detected much earlier and easier. 

This is the perfect point for the cannabis industry to set a new standard for product tracking and introduce a new level of transparency when it comes to supply chains and product origins. We need to join forces to prevent detrimental outbreaks similar to the vaping crisis from occurring within the future.

Parsl Speaks with Quantum Chemist, Keeper Layne Sharkey

Earlier in the year our CEO, Dr. Isaac Balbin, was involved in a discussion on Linkedin with technical expert, Andy Hospodor, regarding the potential threat Quantum Computing could have on blockchain technology. Andy was reluctant to believe blockchain would be protected from the likes of Quantum Computing until Isaac convinced him otherwise. 

This small discussion eventually led to a 40 minute video call where the two discussed the threats of quantum computing and how they’ve been mitigated both now, and in the future. 

These interactions inspired Parsl to attend the Quantum Technology Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. We broadened our Quantum tech network even further and learned even more about the technology. The great connections we made will be valuable when implementing Quantum Resistant technology into our platform. One connection that really stood out to us was Quantum Chemist, Keeper L. Sharkey, Ph.D. a founder and principal investigator in Quantum Algorithms.  

Keeper is well versed in the Quantum sphere, when Quantum Mechanics was being developed, a wrong assumption was made about the science which is fundamentally incorrect and potentially holding the tech back from advancing. 

This is where Keeper excels, she is going back to the beginning to redo the math of quantum computing to rid this century old assumption so that the technology can actually work. She has a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Arizona, is an author of high impact articles, is a futurist and a confessed messy eater. So it’s probably not hard to see why Parsl was so excited to speak with her! 

Keeper has founded a social enterprise called ODE, L3C which was created to serve through Quantum Science, Technology and Research. The business has a stated goal of ‘performing a socially beneficial purpose, not maximizing income’ their mission is to ‘change the world by solving NP Hard problems with quantum computing’. 

Keeper’s goal for the business is to not only rectify this century old assumption of Quantum Mechanics, but to also educate others with her findings to ensure a more accurate industry. We think is a great initiative! Through sharing such valuable knowledge with a wide audience, the technology will have an even higher potential to develop further using correct and accurate methods. She plans to make this project a global effort to fully transform the technology.   

In terms of Parsl’s own relationship with quantum technology, we want to:

  • Ensure that when we adopt quantum technology we’re the first to do it
  • We are doing it in time for quantum not to threaten our own technology
  • Make sure it’s done 100% accurately 

The only chance we have at getting to this point is through the efforts of individuals like Keeper which is why we’re so excited by our connection with the quantum mastermind! 

Quantum physics has been around for a century, only now is it taking shape to completely transform our current computing systems. Parsl is excited to be at the forefront of the technology and looks forward to the day when we can implement it into our own system!  

Parsl Attends the Quantum Technology Conference in Boston!

Parsl recently attended the Quantum Technology Conference in Boston, Massachusetts to speak all things quantum computing. 

Now, some of you may be wondering what this actually has to do with Parsl and our technology. Well, because Parsl utilizes blockchain technology, it could have a lot to do with not only our technology but also the security of entire supply chains. 

For those who may not know what quantum computing actually is, it is essentially a special type of super computer that can perform certain computing tasks much more efficiently than current computing systems. Current computing systems are unable to solve problems above a certain size and complexity. A quantum computer ‘leverages the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with the number of qubits, or quantum bits.’  which gives it the ability to solve such problems. 

The reason Parsl is investing time and energy into understanding quantum computing is because it will directly impact our own technology once it comes of age. The speed and ability of these computers can break through the security of blockchain technology. While the power of quantum is not close to achieving this quite yet, and may not get there for many years to come, the idea has led many to discount the long-term viability of blockchain technology. This skepticism is exactly what Dr Isaac Balbin addressed in his presentation.

Quantum computing may sound like something to fear, but the technology has incredible potential to perform tasks we currently cannot comprehend. This is why we are putting effort into understanding it early on so that we will be early adopters of the technology. Like every technological leap forward, a lack of understanding causes general distrust and fear of the tech. We know that the possibilities of quantum computing for Parsl will be huge so we are excited for the technology. 

Our main goal for attending the conference was to learn about new technology using quantum tech to discover ways it could be applied inside the Parsl network. There were many great conversations had regarding this with experts in the field leaving us with many ideas for the integration of quantum in the future. We also had the aim of validating our approach to Quantum Resistance for our own technology which we are now confident to progress with in the near future. 

Being a cannabis tracking company in a room full of tech businesses definitely helped us stand out from the crowd. People were curious to know more about what Parsl is doing in terms of technology and how quantum computing comes into play. We were able to both share our current plans regarding quantum technology while simultaneously learn new methods direct from quantum experts. 

We were given the opportunity to meet potential partners to help distribute Parsl technology globally which was huge for the team! We will be sharing some of the valuable connections we made at the conference very soon! 

Our CEO, Dr. Isaac Balbin was last to present for the day. Despite encountering more technical difficulties with the clicker, the presentation ran smoothly as can be seen in the video! We were able to run the audience through who Parsl is and what we do, and explain how quantum computing was not something that exposed the viability of our technology but was a challenge that would help to make it stronger and can be implemented to ensure even greater security, trust and compliance. 

We had a great day at the Quantum Conference! We have come away with a world of knowledge in regards to quantum computing and look forward to creating resistance to the tech and also incorporating it into our own technology. 

6 reasons why cannabis regulations are more than just government control

Government and cannabis have never had the most comfortable of relationships in modern times

So it isn’t that surprising that some of those that have been passionate about cannabis for a long time are skeptical about their government’s role in regulating the plant they have been using for years without interference.

When we announced we were submitting an application to provide the track and trace system for their cannabis industry, this response on Twitter caught out eye:

While we totally get this point of view, legalizing cannabis is about more than government control.

Below are six reasons legalization, not decriminalization, is crucial to a cannabis industry that can benefit everyone who needs it.

1. Decriminalization doesn’t suppress the black market 

Decriminalization means that the selling of cannabis is still illegal so those benefiting from its sale are ‘criminals’, while some of them will just sell cannabis as individuals it is also an avenue that funds organized crime and therefore funds much less reputable activities. 

Additionally, legalizing cannabis allows police to attend matters that are of greater importance than cannabis-related crimes. This will eventually result in lower crime rates, better response times and an overall improved justice system. 

In the past decade, police made more than 7 million arrests, 88% were possessions alone and the vast majority of these are for low-level offences. That is a lot of wasted resources for a crime that doesn’t have a significant impact on society. Imagine if the amount of time, people and money spent making these arrests was put to use for more pressing crimes. 

In addition, some of the sale of illicit cannabis can be linked to groups that engage in other types of organised crime like violence and human trafficking. A properly incentivized and intelligently run legal cannabis industry could help to cut of a lucrative source of income for these type of criminals.

2. It puts up roadblocks for studying cannabis’ specific medical benefits

There is no end to the medical benefits that people claim they get from cannabis.

However, because it has been classified as an illicit substance for so long, we are a long way behind where we should be when it comes to understanding these benefits in any way that is backed by peer-reviewed research.

At a Federal level in the United States cannabis is still a schedule 1 drug and as such is considered to have “no currently accepted medical use”. As crazy as this is, it is the law and it makes it very hard to both get funding to study the benefits of cannabis..

And even if a study does get funded, sourcing the cannabis to complete the research and the legal hoops that researchers have to jump through to ensure they stay compliant makes things hard to produce meaningful results 

Lack of cannabis research is something Parsl has written about more extensively in a previous blog post. 

Once cannabis is fully legalized, access to cannabis to study and grants to fund the studies will become more common. 

3. We can never be sure what’s in our illicitly-grown cannabis

As cannabis from the black market is illegal, there are no regulations set in place for a seller to disclose the history of cannabis products they sell to their customers. This means that there is no way to tell if a product is contaminated and poses health risks to a consumer. 

On the other hand, let’s look to the legal cannabis industry to see the extent of testing done on cannabis to help understand the vast amount of contaminants that could potentially occur within a cannabis product. 

In Canada, every product is required to be tested for mould, bacteria and other contaminants. Testers have to look for chemical contamination, the percentage of THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, the presence of residual solvents, total bacteria count, yeast and moulds, E.coli and chemical contaminants such as pesticides, toxic fungus and heavy metals. 

Without regulations, there would be no tests looking at the yeast and moulds in cannabis products, no tests on any chemical contaminants. Cannabis products that aren’t grown in a regulated system could very easily contain pesticides like hydrogen cyanide, toxic fungus and heavy metals and customers could unknowingly be ingesting this contaminated cannabis. 

It is also problematic for medical users that need can treat conditions better when they can access the specified cannabanoid mix of the cannabis they consume, something that is almost completely inaccessible when buying cannabis in a criminalized or decriminalized system.

4. The stigma remains if it’s still illegal 

As the saying goes “People fear what they don’t understand and they hate what they fear” and this definitely applies to cannabis. 

In many places in the world, there has been a stigma that exists around the plant due to its illicit status. While decriminalization means that consumers can’t be arrested for cannabis possession but the fact that it is still illegal to sell and produce still casts a shadow on those that use it.

Changing laws are one thing when it comes to battling the stigma attached to the cannabis plant, but it is much more important to change minds. Unlike decriminalization, legalization is unambiguous in it’s intentions and will do a lot to speed up the change in societies perception of cannabis for the better. 

5. The economic boost from cannabis is real

While taxation is inevitable, when it comes to the legalisation of cannabis taxation only exists where commerce does. 

In 2015, Colorado earned more than $135 million in taxes from the sale of medicinal and recreational cannabis. A report from the Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Institute of Cannabis Research found that the legal cannabis industry contributed more than $58 million to the local economy. 

And this is just at a local level. A report from New Frontier suggests that if cannabis was legalised at a federal level the industry could generate $131.8 billion in aggregate federal tax revenue by 2025. 

6. Better for the environment 

Without regulations there aren’t set locations to cultivate cannabis. This results in businesses lurking into the depth of forests, tearing down trees and setting up their growhouses and cannabis plants in restricted areas. Ecologist, Mary Power states “[a]s long as there is a market that will pay enough to compensate for the brutally hard work they do to grow this stuff in forested mountains… then it will continue to keep growing” 

Not only are trees in restricted areas being cut down to make room for illegal cannabis plants and growhouses, the amount of water stolen from illegal sources is astonishing and quite frankly, deeply saddening. Various pesticides are used which affects the delicate ecosystems found in these areas, killing animals and plants within the proximity of the cannabis. 

While their are problems with recycling in the cannabis industry, this is something Parsl is already addressing. Regulations prevent people from abusing the environment and will result in a compliant cannabis agricultural industry . 

The bottom line? 

Legalization is about more than the government wanting to get its hands on the cannabis industry and squeeze it for all it’s worth.  Not only are regulations necessary, they will also provide a range of benefits for the industry whether that is economically, environmentally or through introducing safety precautions.  

Parsl’s Business Spotlight: Ricky Williams and Real Wellness

Parsl’s latest American adventure saw the beginning of many valuable friendships and connections with some very interesting figures in the cannabis industry. We left feeling inspired by the talent that exists within this emerging industry and are motivated to celebrate and share this. 

We have a goal to shift the stigma that currently exists around cannabis towards a more positive energy reflective of a true understanding into cannabis and its effects. We believe a great way to do this is to share the stories of some of the special individuals and businesses doing some pretty spectacular things within the industry. This helps to educate society through sharing the realized potential of the plant and its many possibilities. 

So it only felt right to start a series on the Parsl blog sharing some of the most innovative and inspiring individuals and businesses within the cannabis and blockchain industries. 

To kick off the series we thought we’d share the story of a connection we made at the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas; Ricky Williams. 

The Journey 

Ricky Williams is a former NFL player for the Miami Dolphins, and also known as the “poster child for the National Football League’s long-running Reefer Madness approach to dealing with players who smoke marijuana” Throughout his football career he discovered great success both on the field and off the field. However, when Ricky was seeking avenues to cope with mental health and football related injuries, he began using cannabis to cope with these challenges in his life. Whilst the plant significantly helped him deal with health issues that doctors diagnosed Williams with, like social anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and avoidance disorder, the NFL failed to see it as a legitimate means of help. They continued to suspend and penalise Williams for his cannabis use, even though it was entirely therapeutic!

After deciding to retire in 2011, the media portrayed him as giving up on everything just to smoke weed and get high, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although the media demeaned and derided Williams for his use of cannabis throughout his football career, after meeting him, it is obvious that he takes the art and science of herbology extremely seriously and his knowledge is more than impressive. In fact, he came across as more of a gentle giant scholar with a genuine passion for cannabis, and its positive effects particularly in conjunction with other herbs. 

After retiring, Williams began travelling to try and escape the negative media attention coming from his use of cannabis but couldn’t seem to escape the media scrutiny that came from the stigma around his cannabis use. From Fiji to Australia, while on his post-NFL journey, knowledge and information about cannabis and other herbs continued to follow the NFL player. He realized that rather than trying to run from the plant maybe he needed to embrace it. Williams has since begun a new career as a holistic healer and has gone on to create a company with his wife, Linnea Miron, called Real Wellness that utilizes a mixture of cannabis and other herbs to derive a desired outcome. 

Real Wellness  

Williams believes that medical cannabis is the ‘safest, most effective and most natural treatment option’ and this belief led Williams and his wife to formulate herbal remedies infused with CBD oil for their friends and family for various illnesses ranging from physical injuries to migraines. This prompted the couple to co-found their company that allows Ricky to help significantly more people.

Unlike other cannabis companies, Real Wellness doesn’t focus purely on cannabis. The company utilizes a variety of herbs to create medicine that is natural and specifically tailored to an individual’s needs. As mentioned on the Real Wellness website, they ‘unite the ancient art of herbalism with the therapeutic powers of cannabis to open channels at the deepest levels and begin the healing process.’ This extends the Entourage Effect to include other herbs (not only cannabis) and opens up a world of treatment possibilities for medicinal cannabis. 

During an interview with the Sun Sentimental, Williams mentioned that it was a dream come true to combine his interest in healing and plant medicines into a company. After meeting Williams at the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit, we could clearly see the results of this dream. Real Wellness is achieving great success and we couldn’t help but feel excited for the future possibilities of Real Wellness. It was clearly visible that Ricky is a man of passion and this coupled with his determination to assist others will pave the way for an extraordinary business. 

It’s businesses like these that get Parsl excited to implement our services and assist in creating a secure tracking system. It is an important part of Parsl’s mission to support and facilitate the efforts of talented entrepreneurs like Rickly. We are excited by the amount of talent we continue to encounter in this industry and are eager to explore and share even more! 

9 Reasons why Crypto is the Perfect Match for the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis, the first thing to ever be sold on the internet and as it is panning out it could be the first industry to adopt cryptocurrency as the default form of payment. 

It isn’t unusual for industries that face unique challenges to be on the forefront when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. Paypal innovated to use of online payments to make buying things online more convenient and reliable. Companies like Spotify and Netflix have innovated streaming to combat content piracy.

And now it is looking like the banking problem in the cannabis industry might be the tipping 

If you’ve been paying attention to the news this past week, you may have heard about the Berkeley City Councilmember, Ben Bartlett, purchasing cannabis with cryptocurrency at a city dispensary. Bartlett used Bitcoin cash and Cred’s LBA token for the transaction at the Ohio Cannabis dispensary in Emeryville. 

This was set up as a publicity opportunity by the Blockchain Advocacy Coalition to bring awareness to Bill AB 953 which if passed would enable the state to accept cannabis tax remittance via stablecoins. However, it shines a light on the real solutions that a cryptocurrency ecosystem could provide the cannabis industry in the United States. 

This is a great development for Parsl as this is exactly how we plan to implement our system through the use of our own stablecoin, PODs. 

The coverage of this event detailed why crypto payments are the perfect solutions for cannabis businesses so we thought we’d list them here (as well as some of our own) 

  1. Currently, cannabis businesses are unable to hold their money in banks because cannabis is still illegal at a federal level. In fact it is estimated that 70% of cannabis businesses are unbanked. This leaves businesses exposed to theft and is an obvious inconvenience in this day and age. But lo and behold, cryptocurrency can and will solve this if properly implemented 
  2. Cryptocurrency can significantly lower transaction fees for dispensaries. For the cannabis businesses that do manage to arrange for credit card processing, transaction fees can be incredibly high as the industry is considered high-risk. With cryptocurrency fees are generally less than 1% making for a cheap alternative! 
  3. Crypto payments can streamline tax collections as it no longer has to be done manually and in fiat. In some systems (like Parsl’s) the whole process can be automated which removes a lot of the stress cannabis businesses currently face. 
  4. Cryptocurrency payments make the entire industry more transparent and accountable which is a huge boost for law enforcement processes and monitoring leakage into the parallel black market. The sale of cannabis requires a thorough record of the movement of the product from grower to end user. As cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology every transaction is kept on secure and incorruptible records. 
  5. Cryptocurrency payments have the potential to make compliance a lot simpler as all the information required is activated by the transaction. 
  6. It allows law enforcement to better detect money laundering as the blockchain transactions are permanent and transparent. 
  7. All transactions are encrypted to withhold relevant personal information while still remaining compliant. For those worried about cannabis purchases being visible to  prying eyes, cryptocurrency accounts and transactions are all anonymous so your transactions are for your eyes, and your eyes only! 
  8. Cryptocurrency is available everywhere. No matter where you are in the world or what you’re buying, cryptocurrency (even ones developed specifically for cannabis purchases) can be used. Parsl’s PODs stablecoin will be redeemable using any Parsl run system meaning it becomes a universal currency for the global cannabis industry.
  9. Cryptocurrency payments protect people doing the right thing. When implemented the correct way, payments with cryptocurrency will be able to automate compliance measures. This will help to avoid situations like this.

You can probably see why we are so excited by the potential of cryptocurrencies and why we chose to use the technology within our own platform! 

Cryptocurrency not only solves the problems faced by the cannabis industry, it also provides additional benefits that could change the way cannabis businesses do business. The rise of cryptocurrencies has only just begun, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of the new technology!