Applied DNA to develop molecular tracking for legal cannabis

Applied DNA Sciences has announced the signing of an initial two-year, $1 million contract with TheraCann International Benchmark Corporation, a leading full service cannabis consultancy with operations in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and South America, for the integration of the Company’s SigNature molecular tagging and testing technology into TheraCann’s blockchain-based, seed-to-sale Enterprise Resource Platform (ERP) for legal cannabis operations. Under the terms of the contract, the companies have entered into a development and marketing agreement whereby Applied DNA will develop the technologies necessary to tag and authenticate legal cannabis throughout the supply chain and seamlessly integrate tagging and authentication data into TheraCann’s ERP and Blockchain platform. Applied DNA will receive an initial payment under its contract with TheraCann in the current quarter.

The rapid global adoption of legal cannabis legislation has accelerated the need to secure and truly validate cannabis supply chains from seed-to-sale. Current systems, many of which rely on RFID or bar code technologies, are capable of accurately tacking cannabis supply chains through the cultivation stage, but cannot forensically track cannabis and/or cannabis derivative products back to a specific source once the physical tags and packaging are removed. This gap allows the opportunity for illegal diversion and the introduction of illegally-sourced cannabis into legal supply chains. Combining molecular tagging with digital tracking enhances existing seed to sale systems to a new level of capability and compliance with state, and international laws and guidelines.

In response to the known limitations of current seed-to-sale systems, the State of Colorado this month introduced a new bill (SB 18-029) that mandates the addition of physical-chemical identifiers (PCIDs), of which Applied DNA’s molecular tags comply, to all legal cannabis plants grown in the state for the purposes of tracking cannabis and cannabis derivative products back to their origin. As the industry matures, next generation platforms, such as the one under development by Applied DNA and TheraCann, will support collaboration between regulators, law enforcement and producers in shaping the future of the cannabis industry.

“Our molecular tag creates an immutable link between the authenticity of goods and the authenticity of digital transactions to serve as a unique and forensic identifier that becomes part of a blockchain transaction throughout the supply chain,” stated Dr. James A Hayward, president and chief executive officer of Applied DNA. “We believe that all blockchain platforms require forensic origination to ensure the veracity of the subsequent distributed ledger. The legal global cannabis industry is a complex supply chain and, therefore, a natural fit for our proven technologies across all medical and consumer applications. We are excited to work with TheraCann to enhance traceability in the expanding legal cannabis market.”

According to a market report from Arcview Research, the North American legal cannabis market in 2017 was valued at $6.7 billion per year and is expected to grow to $20.1 billion per year by 2021. While cannabis remains illegal under US federal law, eight states plus Washington DC have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while twenty-nine states plus Washington DC have legalized cannabis for medical use. 15 countries outside the USA have permitted medical cannabis. Canada has been operating a federal medical cannabis program since 2001 and is expected to federally legalize recreational cannabis by mid-2018.

Chris Bolton, Chief Operating Officer for TheraCann added, “The platform under development by TheraCann and Applied DNA will be uniquely suited to meet the growing demand for true forensic level seed-to-sale tracking and diversion control systems globally. As each new state or country legalizes medicinal or recreational cannabis, it creates an opportunity for the broad-scale adoption of our technologies.”