One of the major problems plaguing consumers in the CBD+THC market is safety. A 2017 PennMedicine study found that possibly up to 70% of CBD products are misrepresented in their labeling. Given the prevailing situation, one solution that has emerged is the inclusion of certified lab test reports (certificate of analysis/COA), from independent/3rd party establishments, with listed products online.
Chow420, a Philadelphia-based outfit with online and physical CBD vending solutions, has an audacious vision towards this problem. The company launched what they call a “Know What You Buy” program in 2021. The initiative is anchored on a robust blockchain-powered layer that stores records of lab test reports from independent laboratory service providers.
How does it work?
After initial correspondence with the team at Chow420, I was advised to try out the site and its features for myself.
I selected a full spectrum tincture for stress relief and focus improvement. Perched at the upper left of the product display image was a clickable icon for Lab Results. Selecting this icon brought me to a page within the Chow420 website, which I inferred was reserved for displaying lab results. The page existed under the same chow420.com URL, so at no time was I taken anywhere outside the platform. The lab report signaled the name of the testing laboratory company and featured several pages of content analysis. These included Heavy Metals, Pesticides, and Cannabinoids among others.
Though not my first CBD purchase or the first time hearing about lab reporting as a safety measure for product content verification, I saw myself exploring the relevant features because they were presented and made accessible.
Blockchain Element: Chow420 has a bold light green CERTIFIED FOR SAFETY & PURITY tag that comes with products that have been vetted through the lab test confirmation process. A selection of this tag opens up to several lines about the date of certification and expiry.
Above all of this, in the first line is a hash code that reads like something from a computer logbook. In fact, it is this code that offers clickability and what took me to the actual record page for the blockchain layer. Essentially, Chow420 is not comfortable with just providing the results of the lab reports. The company wants to be able to demonstrate its commitment to transparency by ensuring that all instances of successfully vetted products (those with confirmed lab reports) are recorded in an immutable platform. This way, there is a history for every product ever bought and listed on the chow420.com site without any influence or control from the Chow420 team.
Though not all customers would be interested in this feature, I see it having utility for other categories of users such as regulators, concerned brands, and even financiers looking for proof of added security, technical and commercial feasibility.
It is relieving to see a company that is committed to actually trying to solve a problem. To my pleasant surprise, I was told that the protocols behind the operation of this initiative are actually at the U.S Patent Office on a pending patent application. Can’t help but wish them good luck.
The ChowPod Phenomenon: You Can “See What You Buy”
The ChowPod program was launched by the company, in 2021, to bring its CBD+THC solutions closer to the customer. Another factor that drove the rationale for this initiative was the changing shopping habits and realities brought on by the pandemic. Specifically, the need for less contact between shoppers, and long wait lines at traditional dispensaries. The result was the conception of Chow420’s full-service contactless self-checkout machines that are currently in 5 states, with plans to be at about 30 locations in the NorthEast by the end of 2022.
In essence, Chow420.com is laying the foundation for a complete ecosystem based on its guarantee of trust and safety in the form of verified and compliant CBD products.