Vermont to start using blockchain for cannabis tracking

Vermont will deploy a blockchain-based platform that will allow the state to track and enforce compliance in its flourishing hemp industry, state Chief Information Officer John Quinn told StateScoop in a recent video interview.

Interest in the seed-to-sale platform was spurred by rapid growth in the number of applications for grower licenses the state has recently received, Quinn said. The state decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana in July 2018, but selling or purchasing the drug in Vermont remains illegal.

Increased legalization or decriminalization of cannabis has proven a recordkeeping burden for many states as they attempt to track the flow of product and enforce compliance of relevant laws on growers or sellers. In Vermont, Quinn said the growth has been explosive.

“We’ve seen major growth across the hemp industry,” Quinn said. “We used to get maybe a dozen, two dozen people across the state. And over the past couple of years we’re up over 1,200 people.”

Blockchain, a distributed digital ledger made famous through its integral role powering cryptocurrency, is commonly cited by state and local technology officials as a promising way to support many of government’s recordkeeping needs, from identity and access management to validating real-estate transactions.

Quinn on workforce:

“We have a partnership with Norwich University that provides security operations services to the State of Vermont.”

Quinn on ransomware:

“We’ve been fairly lucky on the ransomware front. We’re continually building out our defense and depth of our network, trying to minimize any impact that we may encounter in the future.”

Quinn on how his role will change in the future:

“My role has evolved from the guy that fixes your phone … to a true business consultant.”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2019.