To ensure quality, the cannabis industry relies on information that is not readily available or transparent, which begs a few questions. How can we guarantee that cannabis products are properly certified? How do we avoid recalls and lawsuits while protecting consumers?
“There is a problem of lack of trust in cannabis and to solve that problem we bring a lot of transparency through advanced technologies like blockchain machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said Brian K. Fitzpatrick, chairman and CEO of Qredible, a compliance solution that verifies the legitimacy and safety of products, from testing to retail.
“I created the first sort of digital automated validation process on a loan-level basis, I sold that company and was trying to find an industry where there was a significant lack of trust and transparency, sort of like the wild, wild West,” Fitzpatrick told Benzinga in an exclusive interview, in which he explained how technology can lower the risks of doing business, premiumize cannabis and save time and money in compliance procedures.
The team behind Qredible has created the world’s first digital registry for cannabis and CBD that reaches out through robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain to get data from different sources to validate and verify hemp and CBD brands.
How Does It Work?
Qredible is connected to 50,000-plus companies in the industry and is constantly collecting data on licensing, which is validated with state data.
“We issue a smart contract ID through the blockchain of that license and we lock that down. We do the same thing on certifications. If a company is saying that they are certified, USDA certified, they’re GMP certified, or ISO certified, we validate those certifications and we track when they’re expiring.” Fitzpatrick explained.
“We track data from the FDA and the FTC, from the various states’ Department of Agriculture and Cannabis commissions. We are using IBM’s Hyperledger, a private network. It has a predefined community of participants and that ledger is restricted only to them.”
Qredible’s Role With Testing Labs: Companies tell their labs that they now have to deliver their lab reports through Qredible. When the lab report arrives via Qredible, it is issued a smart contract ID and gets blockchain down.
“We’re integrating labs’ information management systems and equipment. And so that those lab reports go directly from their electronic systems into our blockchain. And now that lab is considered Q-verified,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said that many hemp and CBD companies with private clients who label and sell their products need to ensure their labeling is compliant with FDA and state agricultural guidelines about not making false claims, to name a major one.
Before Qredible, companies had to sweep through every single website and label. Now, Qredible does that for them electronically. Fitzpatrick said that if a recall or a pending FDA letter is in the works, Qredible notifies them.
“We are helping these companies to save money and grow, monitoring upstream. They want to make sure that if there’s a recall from that brand that they’re buying or a class action lawsuit or anything that does not look good, that that brand manager at that is private labeling, that product can essentially be aware of it quickly and can make changes,” he said.
He pointed to Vermont, Oklahoma, Michigan and Oregon, which all underwent major recalls. “There is a road to credibility, it is a process companies go through to get validated and verified, so their brands get to carry a Q-verified seal.”
Certify Product Quality
One of the biggest challenges for many CBD and hemp brands is how to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, which can cost a lot of time and money.
“You might be providing the best products, but nobody knows it because you are stuck in a crowded space with other companies that aren’t doing all the right things. Qredible helps managers promote brands through the Q-verified seal,” Fitzpatrick explained.
An AI-Powered Attorney
Many brands are suffering from exorbitant fees and countless marketplace regulations. Qredible also offers a compliance attorney using AI and machine learning.
“We’ve loaded up the machine with all of the federal and state regulatory regulations, and you can run your entire website and social media posts through our compliance tool. It will show you where you may be exposed based on the rules and regs,” Fitzpatrick said. “Instead of hiring an attorney to do that regularly, we put the attorney in the machine.”
So, is this the version of ChatGPT that went to Georgetown? “Yes, I think the difference is, is we’ve leveraged heavy machine learning in teaching the machine when regulations apply. That’s how we reduce the cost of compliance.”
Save Money, Empower Consumers
Companies often hire law firms twice yearly to certify they’re compliant whereas Qredible checks every single day.
“In terms of payment processing and KYC [know your customer requirements to combat money laundering], we’re collecting more data than required by banks,” Fitzpatrick said.
The data is accessible for businesses and soon Qredible will be launching an app for consumers. “So, they’ll be able to take a picture of the label of the product they’re using. It’ll go back to our system, it’ll find the label, it’ll say this, this is made by X brand.”
If a brand is not registered, it will be notified and Qredible is on hand to help navigate legal issues or recall notices.
“If a recall comes out, through Qredible, they can respond to it. They can say, ‘we are aware of this recall. This problem happened through the use of one of our analytic labs. We have canceled our contract with that lab. We have made the following changes and this is how we’ve addressed it,’” Fitzpatrick concluded.
Photo Credits: Brian K. Fitzpatrick – Yarygin on Shutterstock and photo Courtesy of Brian K. Fitzpatrick, Chairman & CEO Qredible.