Cannabis authentication system roots out counterfeit weed

An ex-CIA profiler enters the cannabis market.

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A company called solo sciences has announced what it says is the world's first "cryptographically-secure cannabis product authentication system." In a budding legal weed ecosystem, the system aims to empower distributors to verify the origin of their product.

The authentication system utilizes an app to decipher uniquely encoded labels that identify verified products. Unlike RFID chips or holograms, the labels are cheap to produce and apply to existing packaging.

Fake weed is a big problem, particularly when it comes to cannabis concentrate used in vape pens. The industry is finding its way to regulation, but a confusing patchwork of state and local laws across the country has given rise to unscrupulous operators who seem to be acting with relative impunity. Even in states where cannabis is regulated, it's not likely a distributor will call the authorities to investigate suspected fake product. 

According to internal research at solo sciences, up to 80% of all packaged cannabis products may be counterfeit.

"The world of cannabis is murky, unpredictable, and often not safe," said Ashesh Shah, CEO and founder of solo sciences and a former CIA profiler. "As brands and governments are struggling to fight the illicit market, we created solo* to solve that problem by creating transparency into what cannabis providers are actually selling to consumers. solo* is designed to keep people out of the dark when it comes to what they're consuming and putting into their bodies, so they feel secure and knowledgeable about the products they're purchasing." 

Shah likens the authentication technology to a unique digital fingerprint that can only be used and decoded using the so-called solo* app. The code labels can be applied to existing packaged product. To date, solo sciences has partnered with 53 cannabis brands accounting for more than 9M encoded units in the next 12 to 24 months.

"We're proud to be a launch partner," says J. Smoke Wallin of Vertical Wellness. "We demand the highest standards in terms of product safety and excellence. We want the distributors in our network to know that our brands and CBD products they're selling in stores or online are the real thing."

CEO Shah is a former CIA Profiling Specialist. with 8 patents. Co-founder Katie Flannery is one of the only female founders in the cannabis industry, according to the company.