This cannabis expert wants to use blockchain to improve medical marijuana
Blockchain technology could be used to help analyse data from cannabis users to improve health research says Adam Miller, founder of BuddingTech and The Medical Cannabis Council.
How can blockchain technology be used to progress development in the cannabis industry?
There is still a reluctance of doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients — ultimately what we need is evidence.
At the moment in the industry there is an exorbitant amount of data that is not being analysed.
A growing population of clinicians and patients around the world are using medical cannabis as a treatment, as well as researchers studying the effects of cannabis.
That’s millions of data inputs being generated – data which we can use to develop a deeper understanding of cannabis.
If we could tap into that data, analyse it and create meaningful statistics it has the potential to change the world of medicine.
There exists a unique opportunity to build an end-to-end [blockchain-based] platform and solution to collect and aggregate valuable patient, clinical, research and product data on medicinal cannabis effectiveness, dosage, product development, consumption, patient behaviour and adverse effects.
Blockchain and cannabis are both challenging traditional paradigms in multiple industries and both are at the beginning of their journey.
When you think about it, the two industries can be quite complementary in the way that they are challenging the paradigms they are working in.
Where do you see the intersection of blockchain with medicinal cannabis and how far does it go into the health care sector more generally?
Blockchains can create a system where every patient can have his or her own digital record which includes demographics, cannabis use history, allergies, adverse effects, cannabis laboratory test results etc.
Records are shared via secure information systems and are available for healthcare providers from both public and private sector.
Every record is comprised of one modifiable file, which means that doctors can implement changes over time with no paperwork and no danger of data replication.
The overall vision for blockchain and medical cannabis in the future would be to solve many issues that plague the industry today by creating a common database of health information that doctors and researchers could access no matter what electronic medical system a patient has used.
Through higher security and privacy — and less admin time for doctors — there would be more time to spend on patient care and even better sharing of research results to facilitate new drug and treatment therapies for disease.
Regarding clinical evidence, centralising the results of clinical trials and patient outcomes for new treatment protocols can improve care and patient outcomes.
Not only could blockchains facilitate new drug development by making patient results more widely accessible (if the patients give their permission), it could help reduce the counterfeit drug implications that currently cost pharmaceutical companies an estimated $200 billion in losses annually.
I see cannabis as the most relevant use case for blockchain within the healthcare sector right now – it is arguably a very personalised medicine and operates within a large number of regulatory processes.
What other technology is being developed within the space and how is it advancing?
With an increased volume of information, artificial intelligence becomes not just relevant, but almost necessary.
Medical researchers and clinicians can use large amounts of analysed data on treatment plans and recovery rates of cannabis patients in order to find trends and treatments that have the highest rates of success for treatment.
The goal is to help clinicians make big data-informed decisions within seconds and improve patients’ treatment.
This is particularly useful in cases of patients with complex medical histories, suffering from multiple conditions.
New tools would also be able to predict, for example, who is at risk of psychosis, and thereby be advised to make use of additional screenings.
Where is the incentive for patients and doctors to share their data?
That’s where cryptocurrency comes in – as the last part of the value chain.
It would be the currency that a system would operate on and what I believe would encourage both patients and doctors to consistently use an interface.
Cryptocurrency is in its very nature a way to append a value to data – and thus, a mechanism to ensure all inputs are valued.
What developments are being made in the space so far?
Blockchain companies have started up in the cannabis space to address a number of problems – the way cannabis is paid for and ensuring the traceability of product to name just a few.
At the moment the treatments are based on largely anecdotal feedback – and the more data there is the more accurate it can be.
Canadian outfit Global Cannabis Applications Corporation, a company which I advise, is developing an application to aggregate a mass amount of data where people are using cannabis both in recreational settings and in pharma.
Adam Miller is the founder of BuddingTech and The Medical Cannabis Council.
BuddingTech is a medical cannabis accelerator that identifies and commercialises projects for the Australian medical cannabis pharmaceutical industry.
Adam studies Business Entrepreneurship at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Sweden’s Jönköping University for international business. In 2016 Adam published two Australian industry White Papers with MGC Pharmaceuticals & The University of Sydney on medical cannabis.