Cannabis firm Akerna invests in anti-counterfeit tech player

Cannabis supply chain specialist Akerna has made an $18m investment in anti-counterfeiting technology company Solo Sciences.

Akerna has developed a supply chain management system – called MJ Platform – that it says can help companies operating in the legal cannabis sector keep their ‘seed-to-sale’ distribution channels transparent and secure.

Its stake in Solo adds anti-counterfeit and consumer engagement capabilities to the platform, via ‘fingerprinted’ codes on packaging and a smartphone app that can be used to authenticate products, get information about what they’re buying, and view related products.

“From our perspective, this technology is important to consumer safety and transparency,” said Akerna’s chief executive Jessica Billingsley. Akerna and Solo have been working together on integrating their technologies since September.

Cannabis products have been made legal in some markets for both medical and recreational use – for example medicinal use has been legalised in the Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and some US states, while recreational use has been legalised or decriminalised in various US states, a host of European countries and large regions of Latin America.

Utah recently became the first US state to ask Akerna to deploy its tracking platform – including Solo authentication – in its medicinal cannabis programme, as part of a traceability initiative for cannabis businesses and regulators.

The benefits of introducing traceability to the cannabis product supply chain are reinforced by the recent spate of serious lung injuries - some fatal - that have been linked to vaping products in the US, with particular concern about counterfeit products containing tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis.

"Akerna and Solo Sciences share a vision to protect consumers from dangerous counterfeit cannabis products and vape cartridges - things that can kill you,” said Ashesh Shah, founder and CEO of the anti-counterfeit company.

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