By Chloe Aiello
How can you tell if the Girl Scout Cookies strain of cannabis you are buying is actually Girl Scout Cookies? TruTrace Technologies is here to help by partnering with Canada's largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, to pilot its blockchain-based tracking system.
"When a patient takes medication, there is an expectation that it is standardized, and they can expect consistent clinical outcomes and results. Although that's not always a guarantee within the medical cannabis industry at the moment, we're hoping this new program can help change that," Ken Weisbrod, vice president of Shoppers Drug Mart, said in a statement.
The companies announced the partnership, valued at more than $250,000, at World Cannabis Congress in New Brunswick, Canada, on Monday. Shoppers Drug Mart, which has more than 1,300 shops across Canada, began selling medical marijuana through its online pharmacy in January, and only currently serves customers in Ontario and Alberta. In-pharmacy sales are still not permitted.
TruTrace's technology, StrainSecure, targets two big data areas where TruTrace CEO Robert Galarza said the cannabis industry is lacking: basic chemistry testing, like for microbial content; and genetic testing, to help keep track of different types of cannabis. TruTrace's system gathers data from all along the supply chain into a single ecosystem, wherein a quick scan of a bar code can link to real-time data on everything from testing to origin to certificates of authenticity.
"What this pilot program is built for is to help the ecosystem work better from a data management perspective and really trying to get some hard, specific measurements around what the product is, where it came from, is it cultivated from a legal source, and also is it the same as it was when you last bought it," Galarza said.
This technology is nothing revolutionary from a pharmaceutical perspective, but for cannabis it is.
"The way the pharmacy industry works, you've got patented formulation, third party validation companies, narcotics tracking systems ー the whole implementation of systems that have been put into place. They just haven't existed in cannabis yet," Galarza said.
Galarza said he hopes the adoption of StrainSecure and its blockchain-based ledger will keep actors accountable along the supply chain, as well as make doctors and pharmacists more comfortable prescribing cannabis.
"Lack of data is what has caused the medical industry at large, not just the pharmacists, but also the clinicians and physicians to be [uncomfortable] prescribing," Galarza said. "You're wanting them to prescribe a broad category of medicine. That's like somebody coming in and me just saying, 'Hey, I'm going to give you an anti-inflammatory. What kind? Oh just pick any one you want.'"
TruTrace's pilot program is expected to finish by July 31, after which point the company hopes to roll out full implementation for the Canadian pharmacy chain's e-commerce platform by November.