Cannabis and Cryptocurrency: Frenemies

Cannabis and Cryptocurrency: Frenemies
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A few years ago, at one of the many pre-legalization cannabis conferences, business expos or cannabis competitions that after a while all seem to blend into one very hazy and terpy glad-handing session, someone manning the table at one of the (boring) flower-less booths handed me a card. It was the size, shape and heft of a credit card—which, as something very hard to use, then and now, in the almost-banking-less marijuana industry, was enough to strike interest. But this wasn’t a credit card at all. Instead, the card said, “PotCoin.” “So, what’s this?” I asked. “It’s PotCoin,” said the fellow who handed it over. “Great,” I said.“So, what is it?” Had I heard of Bitcoin? he asked. This being 2015 or so—around the time that online, crypto-powered drug marketplace Silk Road was busted, but Bitcoin was still mostly a thing for drug dealers and geeks, and not mainstream investors—I replied that I had. “Great,” he said. “This is like Bitcoin, but it’s for pot.” “Great,” I said. “What’s it for—and how can I use it?” “Ah,” the fellow said, before launching into a lengthy and well-practiced monologue about blockchain, the digital peer-to-peer ledger; and cryptocurrency, the decentralized, digital currency that uses blockchain. If you have heard any number of Bitcoin stump speeches, and if you’ve wandered onto social media anytime in the past five years, you’ve heard this spiel. A libertarian’s dream. Forget banks, forget governments. Total freedom through technology! (Mind you, by this time, only a handful of states had legalized recreational cannabis.) “Great,” I said. “So how is any of this going to help cannabis?” It was around then that the conversation screeched to a halt, with a return to the stump speech before both parties lost interest. (I still have the card, which had an activation…

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