Exploring the possible human security impact of introducing Blockchain Technologies in Health Canada’s Cannabis supply chain.
Purpose: This research paper explores how and in what ways Health Canada can use blockchain technology to better regulate its cannabis supply chain and improve human security. Methodology: The study used the case study methodology to examine Health Canada’s capacity to detect and prevent infiltration of illegal cannabis in its supply chain. The case study review also explored how blockchain could be used to mitigate some of the identified weaknesses in the state’s capacity. Findings: A critical analysis of the Canadian Government regulatory framework reveals that though the existing state surveillance of the cannabis value chain is improving human security, there is need for greater stringency. Currently, Health Canada’s regulated cannabis supply chain has a fundamental weakness: its monitoring and surveillance is human dependent, making the institution increasingly vulnerable to the infiltration of cannabis from the black market. The shortcomings of human surveillance has resulted in the poor rating of the production of and distribution of cannabis, by customers. If Health Canada continues with its current strategy, there is a risk that consumers will gravitate towards cannabis produced on the black market, which is incidentally cheaper and rated at a higher quality. The introduction of blockchain technology would shift Health Canada’s regulatory burden from a human-dependent model to a system of shared responsibility of all the stakeholders in the Cannabis ecosystem. Moreover, blockchain technology could be used to track the production and distribution of cannabis from seed to consumer; improve the capacity of the state to monitor quality standards; and trace and detect microbial and chemical contaminants; thus, minimizing risks to consumers. Implications: This study sheds light on the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s cannabis supply chain. It provides industry practitioners such as scientists, entrepreneurs and governments with a framework to improve human security through the establishment of a robustly regulated cannabis supply chain. Originality: This study differs from existing literature in that it focuses specifically on the use of blockchain technology to improve human security in the context of the cannabis industry.