Industry Expert Highlights Challenges Facing the Medical Cannabis Industry

The history of legal medical cannabis is brief. It is only in the last decade or so that it has been legalized, and only in some regions. Before the shift towards legalization, cannabis cultivators and consumers operated behind closed doors, with little information shared.

Many cultivators practiced the ‘dark art’ in secrecy, with varying results. Potency fluctuations and inconsistent yields were common. There was no way to test the product.

Consumers had no advice on how to use the product effectively and, ultimately, safely. It was, and remains, essentially trial and error further complicated by inconsistent products.

Every new industry is full of hurdles to overcome, and medical cannabis is no exception. Legalization has identified challenges facing cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, medical professionals, and consumers.

Two leading issues facing the medical cannabis industry are:

  1. the lack of data about the plant, its benefits, and related effects on patients
  2. a ‘mix mash’ of regulations in every jurisdiction

Citizen Green Efixii from Global Cannabis Applications Corp is the world’s first end-to-end data-driven solution designed specifically for the medical cannabis industry. The blockchain-based mobile application helps cultivators produce repeatable results and understand product efficacy. Efixii improves regulatory compliance and reduces the associated costs.

Lack of Data About Cannabis Hinders Insight

The lack of meaningful data about cannabis is partly due to its prior status as illegal. Our understanding of the plant is limited as research was almost impossible in the past. Although cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries, verifiable data about its benefits and effects are in short supply.

A lack of reliable information available to cultivators to improve processes compounds the situation. There is little more than the old notebook to record methods if they are recorded at all.

Although testing facilities are now available in legalized jurisdictions, medical cannabis cultivators often struggle to achieve a consistent product with a repeatable yield from batch to batch.

And product efficacy data is inadequate. When your product varies, how it affects a patient is anecdotal at best. At best, an expected result can only be applied to the same batch.

Efixii records and evaluates each step of the plant lifecycle from cultivator to consumer using powerful technologies; blockchain, machine learning, and comparative analysis engine for the singular purpose of producing better outcomes for medical cannabis patients.  

The Impact of Different Medical Cannabis Regulations

Since the loosening of laws prohibiting the cultivation, sale, possession, and use of medical cannabis, a patchwork of rules and regulations has emerged. The laws, which differ in every jurisdiction, make it challenging for the industry to navigate and comply.

For example, in Canada, medical and recreational cannabis is legal at the federal level, and the rules are the same across the nation. In contrast, the US has 38 (1) states in legalization, each with its own set of different rules. The EU and many other countries have completely different regulations.

So confusing.

Citizen Green Efixii tracks the product lifecycle, securely notarizing every input on a tamper-proof blockchain. Transparency ensures product information is easily viewed by anyone who scans a QR code. Regulators can effortlessly audit the product, easing compliance, speeding approval times, and reducing compliance costs. Verification creates transparency which builds trust.

How a Patchwork of Medical Cannabis Regulations Impacts Consumer Safety

“I don’t blame the regulators, but they have created a problem because they are all independent, and they have different rules that everybody has to live with.”

Scott Walker, Senior consultant, Midpoint Ventures.
Scott Walker | Senior consultant, Midpoint Ventures.

Every new industry has growing pains, and the medical cannabis industry is no exception. To better understand how the patchwork of medical cannabis regulations impacts the entire supply chain, we spoke with Scott Walker, a Senior Consultant at Midpoint Ventures. Scott is an experienced consultant focused on the emerging global cannabis industry.

The first thing we need to understand, Walker says, is “the medical cannabis industry is a fairly nascent, new industry – in the last decade.” The adoption of legalization has occurred state by state, region by region, and country by country.

The main issue, according to Walker, is “a lack of standards at the state level, federal level, and on an international level. The result is a variety of rules and regulations that affect everyone, from cultivation, transportation, sale, possession, and consumption of cannabis.”

In the US, for example, with 40 sets of rules, the fact that you cannot transport cannabis across state lines has two significant effects. Firstly, it leaves the consumer uncertain if the product is the same in each unique district. Secondly, it increases the price of the product.

Walker says the typical medical cannabis patient is over 45 years of age with an ailment like arthritis, pains, or related issues. For example, when a patient has success with a product in New York, they cannot be sure the product they purchase in Florida is the same and will deliver the same effects. This is a consumer safety issue.

“We need to get a common set of standards between states and, ultimately, internationally,” says Walker.

Lack of Data Limits Ability to Grow Consistent Product

Nearly a century of illegal status meant there was no ability to study the plant, conduct clinical trials, or develop an understanding of its effects. And as the industry gradually opens, the lack of scientific data is glaring.

Walker suggests, “the biggest challenge with the scientific data is that if you’re going to run a clinical trial, you need to have consistent product from one crop to another, from one plant to another.” And because cannabis is a plant, this is very difficult to do.

The lack of a system to manage production and reproduce the same product every time leads to questions of efficacy. Consumers want guidance on how to use medical cannabis. They want to know it is the same product in one jurisdiction as in another. Further, they want to know they are getting the same effect and safe regardless of where they buy the medical cannabis.

“Today,” notes Walker, “there is no system to do that.”

To reach the clinical trial stage, we must resolve the issue of consistency.

Efixii Generates Scientific Data for the Medical Cannabis Ecosystem

As Walker notes: “Until we come to a standard set of data and rules and regs, it becomes very hard to manage.” The Citizen Green Efixii solution helps cultivators comply with applicable regulations between batches and across borders.

Scientific data for the medical cannabis ecosystem is generated by recording and measuring every input in the product cycle. Efixii analyses thousands of individual journeys, extracting valuable efficacy data that improves our understanding of the effects on a strain-by-strain basis.

Global Cannabis Applications Corp’s SeedtoSeedTM real-time feedback loop connects the consumer and cultivator, who can learn what works and why. Consumer feedback helps cultivators understand the effects of each batch on a ‘one gram grown; one gram consumed’ basis. Consumers can confidently choose safe medical cannabis repeatably produced.

Improved product knowledge and consistent cultivation produce better patient outcomes.

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