For Applied DNA, ETCH Biotrace may be a pot of gold

Harvest boon: A new Applied DNA tracking system designed to secure legal-marijuana supply chains comes just as the international cannabis market is booming.

Just six months after announcing a partnership to develop a new molecular-tracking system, a Long Island biotech and a Canadian medical-marijuana supplier are launching the world’s first cannabis tagging system.

Stony Brook-based supply-chain, anti-counterfeiting, anti-theft and product-authentication specialist Applied DNA Sciences and Calgary-based pharmaceutical-solutions provider TheraCann International Benchmark Corp. on Tuesday announced the launch of ETCH Biotrace, which leverages Applied DNA’s CertainT platform to tag, test and track cannabis plants “in commercial harvests of any scale,” according to the Stony Brook biotech.

Once the DNA-based molecular taggants are applied, the harvested plants – and their derivative products – can be forensically tracked through every stage of the supply chain, all the way to the consumer.

The introduction of the unique cannabis tagging system comes at an important moment for global legal-cannabis markets, which span both medicinal and recreational uses. Those markets “have enjoyed rapid development globally,” Applied DNA noted in a statement, paced primarily by new laws in Uruguay, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia, where the exporting of medical cannabis has been legalized.

Another industry bump is expected in October, when Canada is set to legalize the recreational use of cannabis – becoming the second nation to do so (Uruguay was first, in 2013) and joining nine U.S. states (not New York, yet) and the District of Columbia, where recreational use has been legalized.

Another 29 states (including New York) have legalized medicinal marijuana distribution and use.

With momentum building, the domestic legal-cannabis market reached $7 billion in revenues in 2016 and, according to Applied DNA, is expected to eclipse $50 billion by 2028. That makes this a fairly excellent time to start tracking the stuff, and the Long Island DNA-science company is the perfect partner to help a large-scale distributor like TheraCann International make that happen, noted Gordon Hope, Applied DNA’s director of cannabis business development.

“Combining our mature tagging expertise with the new seed-to-sale solution by TheraCann, enhanced with ETCH Biotrace, provides for the first time true transparency across the entire cannabis supply chain, from cultivator to processor and dispensary,” Hope said Tuesday.

The CTS is designed to tag plants directly during harvest. Associated data on the harvested plants and cannabis derivatives – cannabis oils, for instance – will flow through an “integrated platform” designed by Applied DNA and TheraCann International and be presented via digital dashboards to “appropriate stakeholders,” Applied DNA said.

Noting the global cannabis market “is growing at remarkable speed” and the commercial ecosystem surrounding it “is becoming increasingly complex,” TheraCann International CEO Jason Warnock trumpeted the quick results of his company’s collaboration with Applied DNA.

“A robust platform like the one we are introducing is required to provide a true end-to-end solution that addresses an ever-expanding global market,” Warnock said in a statement.

Applied DNA President and CEO James Hayward agreed ETCH Biotrace provides critical seed-to-scale security at a time when “legal cannabis legislation [is gaining] momentum globally.”

“Having the capability to track cannabis supply chains … can assure stakeholders of compliance with regulatory and legal requirements,” Hayward added. “By tagging the physical plant, we enable cultivators, processors and dispensaries to proactively authenticate their products throughout the supply chain and share that transparency with consumers and state governments.”


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