There exists a multi-billion dollar industry which is largely struggling to establish itself in the United States market.
Untrustworthy businesses, often seen as trying to capitalize on a growing market trend simply to con individuals out of money, make it difficult for the average person to separate the legitimate from the not, stymieing the worthwhile endeavours of entrepreneurs trying to make it in the space. Though this description can be applied directly to the cryptocurrency marketplace, this is actually a description of the current state of the cannabis business. That is, unless Paragon Coin CEO Jessica VerSteeg is successful in her latest venture.
The Fight for Legitimacy
While the cryptocurrency market has been steadily growing, the cannabis industry has seen equally impressive development in the United States thanks to several states passing legislation legalizing the use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes, along with recognizing the health and wellness benefits of cannabis-based products. This, in conjunction with increasing support from the medical community, has helped the cannabis industry grow into a multi-billion dollar market.
However, the legal complications and negative associations make it nearly impossible for new businesses to get off the ground and for doctors in the space to be taken seriously. “These cannabis doctors are doing real work,” VerSteeg told CCN, “and it’s such a shame that people look down on them.”
VerSteeg and the team at Paragon Coin are building a blockchain-based ecosystem to support the infrastructure the cannabis industry desperately needs to help revitalize its image after decades of negative press and treatment by federal regulators largely motivated by outside pressure from industries who would be disrupted by the widespread use of hemp-based products such as paper and textile manufacturing.
Blockchain can Save the Industry
What Jessica, herself a long time cryptocurrency supporter and veteran of the cannabis industry, are working to accomplish is a way to introduce a level of transparency and accuracy professionals in the marijuana space have never seen nor had access to due to disinterest in the business. Knowing the ability for blockchain solutions to effectively handle supply chain management, Jessica began building a blockchain system for use with her other venture, AuBox, that would let her verify with absolute certainty the lab results and chemical qualities of her products.
This, in turn, gives her customers confidence in their purchases. “Let’s make blockchain for us and have our suppliers verify with a lab, and we’ll put the information on a blockchain and have this record for us,” Jessica explained, adding, “We realized that this was working, and we could let everybody use it.”
One of the largest areas of development in the cannabis industry comes in the form of dispensaries, retail locations where holders of medicinal marijuana cards can purchase the products they require to manage pain, insomnia, anxiety, or other medically approved treatments. These dispensaries, a lifesaver to many of their customers, in sourcing their products are often forced to deal with potentially untrustworthy distributors as the industry remains largely unregulated. As VerSteeg explained, “Verifying lab results is a huge part of it. This lets customers and patients just scan a QR code and see the results. It guarantees that people are getting what they want and what their doctors are recommending.”
The Paragon Plan
With their upcoming crowdfunding in September, Paragon is seeking to raise funds to build the first of many planned coworking spaces devoted to supporting new, growing businesses in the cannabis space. VerSteeg outlined the difficulties businesses in the cannabis face when trying to establish themselves as legitimate, with many not being able to secure office space.
Startups in the Paragon coworking space will have access to other professionals in the cannabis industry as well as Paragon’s blockchain platform to help increase the legitimacy of their products, a significant step towards helping the industry thrive. Businesses will rent space using Paragon Coin (PRG), and can even use the tokens to make purchases from their on-premises cafe. “It’s really important that people get real things from it,” Jessica said of using Paragon Coin, “so they can see this isn’t fake, it’s not a videogame, it’s a real thing.”
Turning to the Tangle
Initially, Jessica’s conceived blockchain was built on Ethereum. However, as she and the team explored the possibilities and challenges inherent with managing such a large, complex supply chain, it became apparent that another solution would be necessary. After exploring NEM and NXT, Jessica was able to get in touch with IOTA founder David Sonstebo. When asked about the collaboration, Jessica said, “David is such a smart guy, and IOTA was already working on tracking agriculture, and connecting with companies and businesses in Colorado” so the two found the partnership opportunity to be a natural fit.
Chief Technology Officer Vadym Kurylovich cited the powerful features and intuitive design elements of IOTA’s Tangle as primary reason why the network was an attractive choice for Paragon. As the launch of the Paragon Coin crowdsale approaches, Jessica and her team are spending a lot of time on social media and their various community channels like Slack to answer questions and prove the legitimacy of their project. Ultimately, Jessica wants people to know, “We’re solving real problems using real technology. This is a real thing.”
Featured image from Shutterstock.