The disaster-hit cannabis industry
The cannabis industry has been riddled with the destruction of grows from California fires over the past few years. Less than a year after a series of wildfires in California which destroyed more than 1.3 million acres, northern California went up in flames again, this time forcing a mass evacuation for residents who watched their homes and lives go up in flames.
Last year, according to Rolling Stone, approximately 30 to 40% of California’s marijuana growers were impacted by the fires, according to the California Growers Association (CGA). Some marijuana cultivators and farmers watched helplessly as their entire marijuana farms were completely destroyed.
According to the California Growers Association, at least 31 marijuana farms were destroyed and many more damaged. Once evacuation orders are lifted and farmers are able to return to their damaged properties, that number is expected to increase significantly. But even then, these estimated losses do not include those who grow their crops indoors or utilize backyard greenhouses and converted garages, or those who refuse to abide by the legalization and who are illegally growing under the radar. To add even more fuel to the fire, no pun intended, many of these farmers aren’t able to claim insurance protection due to the crops still being categorized Schedule I under federal law.
While the timing for such disasters is never appropriate, the timing of these wildfires was especially gut-wrenching for farmers because it came at the beginning of harvest season before they had the chance to cut all their plants. Many of these cannabis farms lie within some of the driest parts of the state, where the ongoing drought conditions leave crops extremely vulnerable.
This destruction leaves families and businesses displaced, and requires mediation and relief. One dispensary in Malibu was seemingly hit the hardest, according to a report by ABC News. Days after celebrating a historic vote to legalize marijuana sales in the city, Yvonne DeLaRosa Green, an international actress and the co-owner of 99 High Tide Collective, along with her husband, Sam Boyer, watched as their home burned to the ground.
The owners of the dispensary had just invested money and worked with local lawmakers and Malibu activists to co-write “Measure G,” a bill that would allow dispensaries to sell and deliver recreational cannabis in the city. The measure could bring $75,000 to $150,000 in tax revenue to the city each year. It passed with 70% of Malibu voters’ approval back in early November, just days before their home was engulfed in flames.
Insurance for the cannabis industry is just now being offered, but for 99 High Tide Collective, it was an unprotected loss.
Watering down the fires: What can be done?
So, in our digital age of technology, how can we put water to these many flames causing such personal and economic hardship to families?
Blockchain technology is already a natural fit for the cannabis industry. Blockchain ledger records are immutable and not subject to alteration nor manipulation. Such transparency provides a huge advantage to growers but provides for efficient monitoring by financial institutions looking to audit cannabis companies. When it comes to government institutions looking to ensure proper tax regulations, these records couldn’t be more appropriate.
By injecting blockchain technology into the supply chain, cannabis businesses are able to specifically identify and pinpoint potential weaknesses or inefficiencies in their internal and external operations. All of which provides for significant mitigation and reduction of operating and overhead costs.
For example, take food safety and the past two E. coli outbreaks. Ensuring quality control is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to ingesting food and/or using cannabis. The amount of time it takes for a supplier or retailer to pinpoint the source of contamination, like the E. coli outbreak to some random California farm, can be significantly reduced, if not entirely eliminated. Blockchain technology will allow suppliers, retailers, and consumers to all know what they are getting, specifically as it relates to harvesting information and the strain they are expecting to see.
But, one of the major issues for both organizations and those donating funds is the reassurance that those funds actually reach their intended destination. These blockchain applications can assist in recovery from these disasters for cannabis growers
Using satellite imaging to monitor forest fires or site conditions
In Indonesia, an industry group by the name of ‘Carbon Conservation’ joined forces with tech platform, Dappbase, to fight haze-causing forest fires throughout the region. It will be the first time that blockchain technology would be used in an attempt to protect and conserve Indonesia’s rainforests from haze fires that damage the region on a regular basis.
Specifically, they will be implementing the ‘Smart Contract for Good,’ which governs the release of funding by using data from remote sensory or satellite imaging technology that can monitor forest fires or ground site inspections. The effect of using the blockchain here is that the release of these funds are automatic and that data is permanently logged in the ledger.
“Blockchain technology allows funders to verify the success of the villages themselves, thereby reducing the red tape of the bureaucracy,” said Zhang Taiyang, the CEO of Dappbase.
2. Distributing ‘aid credits’ through SMS blockchain technology
According to a report by the Center for Global Development, it was estimated last year that about 5% of global aid, or $8 billion, is lost to theft and corruption each year. Measured against natural disaster victims, this is extremely troubling.
While blockchain technology itself can’t guarantee the complete elimination of distribution corruption, the ability to identify and confirm locations of digital transactions helps to ensure that more often than not, the funds allocated for aid reach its intended recipient(s).
But, what happens when telecommunication systems go offline or what would be available geographic areas, become impassable?
A company like Sikka utilizes the technology to distribute digital credits to beneficiaries through an Ethereum-based blockchain. These credits are distributed through SMS text messagesmanaged on a restricted blockchain, where aid recipients text credits to merchants to make purchases. Taking advantage of transparency, aid agencies are able to see where, when, and how the credits are spent and can arrange payments for participating merchants.
3. Giving is believing with an ‘advanced donation’ loan via the ‘Little Phil Emergency Fund’
Regardless of the solutions thus presented, everything depends on the economic status of the country. While developed countries may have access to government reserve funds to address disaster situations like the U.S. California wildfires, developing countries are more likely to struggle in the case of an emergency situation.
Why? Many of them may not have the reserve funds readily available, especially when it comes to mobile technology, which is troubling because many of these institutions are expected to make funding decisions within hours.
Taking a look at the ‘Little Phil Emergency Relief Fund,’, every time someone makes a donation using the Little Phil platform, a portion of the (maximum) 6% transaction fee is allocated to a user’s account in the form of ‘reward tokens.’
In a case of a disaster or emergency situation, users can democratically vote to allow first responders access of up to a third of all reward tokens on the platform. These are used as an advance payment until additional donations are obtained, leaving users with the end-choice to claim back their reward tokens, or leave them as a gift for the non-profit organization. Givers are notified regularly concerning their donation in how it’s being used and the overall status of the disaster.
4. Geographically airdropping funds to specific locations
Utilizing smart contract technology, Israeli-based company, Platin addresses transparency through its ‘Proof of Location’ (PoL) protocols. The protocol is standards-compliant to integrate into the current world of geospatial activity and location-based services, paying mind to regional regulations.
Imagine if cryptocurrencies could be (commercially) geographically “airdropped” on selected communities in need and for those populations affected by natural disasters like the California wildfires. The ability to identify the specific location or GPS coordinates of an item(s) as it moves across the supply chain, is imperative in the world staying inter-connected with one another, especially in times of tragedy and disaster.
“By disintermediating middlemen, the technology can provide for direct distribution aid in real-time, ensuring a fair and even distribution of supplies,” said Dr. Lionel Wolberger, Co-Founder and CTO at Platin. The company has already signed letters of intent with humanitarian organizations to “air-drop” crypto assets on needy communities, such as those affected by economic collapse, earthquakes, and famine.
Dr. Wolberger, who has worked for over twenty (20) years with Cisco Secure Video, believes that blockchain technology combined with PoL can help to provide a strong backbone for aid in minimizing and preventing unclaimed funds, hoarding, and injecting overall fairness into equations that require compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR.
5. Robonomics and drones can monitor harvesting and maintenance conditions
Shortly after this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, consumers have been engulfed by the concepts of smart sustainable cities and robonomics. As we enter into ‘Industry 4.0’, drones have become the new talk throughout the tech space.
In conjunction with many of these already identified solutions, Airalab, the leading developers in Russian, have implemented its fire patrol drones, or “air drones,” which are equipped with a set of sensors and act as an automatic system for dynamic monitoring. In other words, the drone is able to communicate and transmit information about an area(s) to be monitored.
At the end of its flight or mission, the drone automatically transmits a hash file in interplanetary file system (IPFS) network, containing all the requested data, which can be applied to help monitor forest fires, detecting and preventing illegal actions and safety threats, measuring concentration of greenhouse gases and other particulate pollutants, and inspecting the condition of solar panels with thermal cameras for growth.
The technology itself has already been successfully tested last April for air measurements in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This autumn, the city administration will provide the Airalab team with all statistics on ignition centers in forests, which will become the starting point to plan the first tests.
6. Improving air traffic through a distributed P2P network
A project known as Distributed Sky is exploring the use of blockchain technology and AI in the drones industry. Distributed Sky is a global air traffic management system running on a world computer that aims to create an air traffic control system for unmanned aircraft across the globe. It will achieve this, in works with experts from Airalab and Simlabs, by enabling transparent and highly secure peer-to-peer (P2P) communication between drones, their operators and other parties within the network.
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges in the use of drones in disaster management is traffic management. With Distributed Sky, this will be a concern of the past, given that different drone operators will be able to coordinate with each other and with emergency agencies.
During Michael, the recent hurricane to hit the Southeast, authorities have been so worried about uncoordinated drones interfering with rescue missions that the FAA has imposed a $20,000 fine on anyone caught operating a drone without a license. With projects such as Distributed Sky, the authorities can track every drone in their area and do not have to worry about these devices getting in the way of help or restricted areas.”
So, when it comes to purging fires or providing the necessary aid to those communities who are unable to help themselves, blockchain technology and cannabis are a natural fit, helping to bring the industry and these innovative technologies closer together.