As it plots the expansion of its Cannaplex innovation hub, Dartmouth-based Dispension Industries has also just installed its first Verified Identity Dispenser, or VID, in a pilot project in Vancouver.
Dispension created the VID to allow authorities to distribute regulated substances like cannabis or opioids to registered users, and only those users. The machines use scanning sensors to take images of the patterns of veins in the user’s hands. These patterns are as individual as fingerprints, so the VID can always tell it is distributing the product to the registered user.
Co-Founders Corey M. Yantha and brothers Matthew and Brad Michaelis invented the machine to address the opioid crisis in Western Canada and the United States. This month, the team installed its first machine in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side as part of a pilot project to test its effectiveness of an automated delivery system.
“We are providing regulated doses of opioids, which then reduces the stress on the public resources and on the first responders,” said Yantha in an interview after returning from Vancouver for the installation.
The thinking behind the project is that if addicts receive regular, verifiable doses of their opioids, they’re less likely to overdose or commit crimes to feed their habit. What’s more, everyone will know dosage and content of the substance being distributed, so it is safer than buying off the street.
Yantha said that on his first day in Vancouver, there were 15 overdoses in the East Hastings area before noon, demonstrating the severity of the situation and its pressure on the system.
The seven-member team, which has not yet raised investment capital, is working with a Vancouver physician and medical team to monitor the result of the pilot. The participants will decide on the next step after assessing the pilot.
Meanwhile, Yantha is also excited about the growth of Cannaplex, a cannabis innovation hub in the Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth. Early in its development, the Dispension team realized it had excess space and envisaged forming a community of like-minded companies.
“The cannabis technology industry is a relatively new market with untapped potential, and our goal is to be a state-of-the-art centre for cannabis technology excellence,” said Matthew Michaelis. “We are already near capacity at our current location and are actively looking to acquire a larger space that can accommodate growth into a larger community”.
Six companies now work out of the Dartmouth facility, including:
- Jazz Cabbage Gardens, which is focused on producing premium, organic cannabis in Nova Scotia;
- Meridian DLT, a renewable energy blockchain network;
- Dispension Blockchain Capital, a joint venture between Meridian and Dispension;
- Mallow, which is developing a tonic from natural ingredients, such as marshmallow root and lemon grass;
- And cannabis accessories importer and exporter Green Port Trading Company.
The Cannaplex – a name that Dispension has trademarked – operates on the same premise as Volta for the tech community – its facility is a meeting place for people interested in the cannabis industry. It’s a place to seek advice and swap ideas, a place that produces an environment conducive to growing cannabis companies.
Yantha said the team is now actively looking for a larger facility. It hopes to have a ribbon-cutting in the summer of 2020.
“We want to be the hub for businesses in the cannabis space or in the tech space who want to be part of this community,” said Yantha. “We feel it’s going to be a really amazing part of the Atlantic Canadian ecosystem.”