After the arrival of Bitcoin in January 2009, digital currencies caused an earthquake that has shaken the foundations of trade markets and traditional economy. The possibility of using a virtual currency in transactions worth millions of dollars opens the door for a whole range of opportunities. One of them is organizing a real “marijuana bank”.
The goal of electronic currencies based in marijuana is to serve the more than $100 million that legal weed generates. But how does something like that work?
For starters, we need to understand how every digital currency works. A team of developers, under the nickname of Satoshi Nakamoto, perfected the idea for their cryptocurrency named Bitcoin. They probably didn’t foresee that they would kick-start the creation of a whole system of new commercial processes among young industries. These are based on a technology called blockchain. Its function resembles the classic P2P file exchange systems, like Emule or the extinct Kazaa. Oversimplifying, it’s a network of certification of economic data, which are checked by all the peers in the group and gathered in blocks that are closed and codified using a complex algorithm. This chain of blocks is unbreakable and can’t be altered. The blockchain is like a ledger where every movement of the users is written down and each member owns a copy of that book (peer review). Users remain anonymous and all accounts are transparent and can be inspected, ensuring that every operation is known. This makes it a very interesting network for businesses based on weed, which were once bound to the conditions of black market.
There are two types of blockchains, public and private ones. Amongst the public ones, Bitcoin and Ethereum are best known in the field. Among the private ones we can find some related specifically to cannabis, like PotCoin, CannabisCoin and MJ Freeway.
“I think blockchain is one of the most interesting contributions for a responsible regulation of cannabis”, claims Jessica Billingsday, MJ Freeway CEO, on her blog. “If a government entity, like a State, Province or Federal Government required blockchain and defined its parameters, it would do a great job of ensuring an auditable compliance. This could probably happen in a jurisdiction with a philosophy like the State of Washington’s, where they make sure all data are available and open to everybody”.
All cryptocurrencies share one common goal: they try to get rid of the middleman (banks) in commercial trade. This way the money that moves in these operations does not depend on the actual virtual currency, but on the amount of money that people activate to do their shopping with it. Therefore, PotCoin’s or CannabisCoin’s goal is that people purchasing weed industry products use their payment system to do so. “Once the customer has chosen the cannabis product, the retailer asks how he wants to pay, using normal currency or virtual currency. In case they choose the latter one, clients can use their credit card to buy Bitcoin or litecoin. The customer will own the operation’s worth in cryptocurrency and will be able to swap it in that same retailer. She or he can also choose to download more money in electronic currencies to use it in other shops that accept this payment method. In any case, once the customer finishes the acquisition, POSaBIT (card payment system) stores the sum and then sends it in US dollars to the shop’s bank account”, explains D. Civantos in an article in Dinafem.
The advantages of this type of payment would precisely be the traceability and transparency, which would allow authorities to audit transactions avoiding the old black market’s customs. According to Javier Bastardo (Criptonoticias) for Infocannabis: “Blockchain can offer more efficient control against drug trafficking. Both the industry and the competent authorities could have a clearer view of the origin of the products by making a thorough and detailed monitoring of the supply chain of weed. It would be possible to confirm that its origin is not trafficking, thus reassuring the customer’s trust, who could check not only the weed’s origin, but also its characteristics such as CBD content, THC and other elements of its compositions”.
Instantaneous payments, transparency, auditing and new technologies, getting together to unite legal compliance and cannabis industry.
There is no specific legislation for the acquisition and trade of electronic currency in our country. Nevertheless, marijuana is still illegal today, making it enormously difficult for our cannabis industry to progress, which was the point to these new coins.
There is no reason to despair. In some places in Spain it is possible to buy using electronic money. Among these places we find several grow shops in Marbella, Fuengirola or Barcelona. You can buy PotCoin to purchase products in these shops for the attractive exchange rate of 1 Pot €0.05 (US $0,06) or 1 XCI (CannabisCoin) for €0,02.
The banks’ monetary control methods are reaching their end. Crytptocurrencies bring along a new horizon that will allow small consumers to escape the black market and enter the clubs and grow shops in total transparency. At least in those places where buying weed is legal.