BLOCKStrain Technology CEO Robert Galarza says some of the key issues in the cannabis supply chain are tied to the lack of visibility on where product comes from and how it is produced.
With the upcoming launch of their platform, BLOCKStrain will offer an easily integrated blockchain solution that tracks cannabis through the supply chain.
In the interview below, Galarza discussed the company’s technology solution and how it will play a key role in the cannabis industry, servicing both licensed producers and micro cultivators alike. He also addressed the company’s partnerships with key players in the marketplace and how they will iwork with BLOCKStrain moving forward.
Below is a transcript of our interview with BLOCKStrain CEO Robert Galarza. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Investing News Network: Please give our investor audience an overview of BLOCKStrain and its proprietary blockchain technology for the Cannabis space.
BLOCKStrain CEO Robert Galarza: At BLOCKStrain we have developed a verification and supply chain management platform. We want to empower consumers with information regarding what they are getting in cannabis products.
We have been able to mirror our technology on the front end from an automation point of view, embedding it within laboratories conducting genetic and microbial chemistry testing. As such, we have essentially digitized the testing component, a crux point for the integrity of the cannabis industry.
Our goal is to build a framework for licensed producers (LPs) as well as micro cultivators that are entering into the newly legalized ecosystem, helping them to easily and inexpensively move their products through testing procedures. We then place that testing data on the blockchain for immutability and intellectual property protection, and then feed that information through the ecosystem for full visibility into the supply chain. This information remains available to consumers and regulators, so that they can see whether the product is clean, safe, pesticide-free and more.
INN: How can BLOCKStrain’s technology provide a solution for the growing cannabis market?
RG: When we started working with LPs and micro cultivators, we wanted to understand where the administrative roadblocks were, and to understand how we could automate and streamline the process. What emerged as an idea was a booking system that managed the back-end work for testing and expedited the production batch components required by Health Canada, for instance. We wanted to make it as digitized as possible and help with the storing and recording of information.
On the side of the laboratories, we are able to access the results, including identifiers for genetic sequences. That way someone looking at the product on our supply chain visibility platform can check when it was verified as a certain strain, for instance. Our platform can integrate with a number of other systems in the cannabis supply chain framework including track and trace solutions, ERP systems, point of sale solutions and inventory management tools. Our goal is to build integrity across the board.
LPs are starting to do their best in terms of maintaining a high level of integrity for their products. And we have realized that we need to help the craft market, with its array of genetics, into the LP ecosystem in a way that protects them and their intellectual property. Through our system, craft growers could register their proprietary strains and protect them from others claiming to have developed the same strain. This is particularly important as consumers are currently exposed to mislabeled products.
INN: Who makes up BLOCKStrain’s customer base? How does the company deploy its platform to its various customers?
RG: In Canada, the dominant players in the cannabis regulatory schema are the LPs, and they already have testing standards in place. We are also starting to see good manufacturing practices starting to take form, and we want to be a part of that. Any LP wanting to push their products through a testing and verification process is a potential customer for our platform. There is no real upfront cost for using the testing component. LPs also want to register and track their strains. There are fees associated with that, but we are aiming to not be burdensome to these companies as they face a growing market.
The other side of our customer base is micro cultivators. They are looking to bring their genetics into the framework and want to protect and track them as well. Our solution is also built to create product integrity so that regulatory bodies, law enforcement and drug administrations can evaluate and assess products.
Our target audience is anybody and everybody looking to protect their strains and product. From the individual grower developing hybrid strains using just four plants to the large-scale LPs with a vast genetic library.
INN: What partnerships has BLOCKStrain entered into to date? Are there any others in the making?
RG: We have been very fortunate to be introduced to a number of fantastic companies that are doing exciting things in the space and we are looking into opportunities to work together with them. We are trying to create a coalition of technology, hardware and consultation companies, as well as regulatory groups that will help set a higher standard for the industry.
With regards to our partnerships, we have an agreement with WeedMD (TSXV:WMD). WeedMD is a company growing in leaps and bounds within a global setting. They understand the needs to protect genetics because they are a big component of their business model. Their wholesale clone business combined with their global reach for moving that product is massively important.
We started our relationship by focusing on licensed production as they have an incredible team including Bruce Dawson-Scully, Keith Merker and Michael Kraft, who’s on our board. They also have Derek Pedro leading their grow management team. Together, they have been instrumental in giving us insight into their problem points and that has allowed us to use our expertise in technology development and enterprise software to help the growing side of the business.
We are working with Abattis Bioceuticals (CSE:ATT,OTCMKTS:ATTBF), which is a company doing really exciting stuff on the laboratory side. We also have a long-standing relationship with the CEO of National Green Biomed, Justin Dhaliwal and his father, Herb Dhaliwal. They are a late-stage applicant and we’ve become involved in the process of bringing them to the market. We know that we can provide solutions to both the experienced LPs as well as those that are just coming online.
INN: What is next for BLOCKStrain and how does that fit into the company’s goals moving forward?
RG: In the next three to four weeks, our platform will be live. A huge step for a technology company.
Since our public listing, we have all the funding we need to accomplish our goals without needing to conduct further capital raises. We’re just getting started. The platform is about to go live with a multitude of solutions alongside a number of potential partners that we are looking to integrate with in the next few months.
When it comes to micro cultivators, we are going to have to work with them as the legal marketplace opens up to them. We have been fortunate enough to work with a consortium of growers working towards regulatory compliance and helping to transition the MMAR craft space towards micro cultivation, licensed production and a full-fledged retail distribution model.
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