For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.
Donna Tremble doesn’t like to brag, but yeah, she’s pretty much a genius.
“That’s something I don’t talk about with people, but if they ask, you might as well tell them,” she says.
Tremble is a self-taught math prodigy, having dropped out of high school at 16, just a couple years before starting her Canadian tech firm, Kaamos. The 20-year-old CEO has developed a form of artificial intelligence to identify vulnerabilities in the cannabis supply chain. She wrote the code herself and is currently training it to expose fraud, diversion and counterfeiting in the cannabis industry.
She calls it Aurinko — the Finnish word for sun — and expects to have it ready for the commercial market this fall. The initial roll-out will be a cloud-based application for Canadian and Colombian producers, processors and retail storefronts. Tremble expects to have a version ready for the United States in early 2019, but the state-by-state nature of cannabis laws in the U.S. creates a logistical minefield.
Tremble has studied diversion and counterfeiting extensively in industries ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to the luxury bed market.
“Even in the tobacco industry, most of the diversion happens directly at the wholesaler,” she says.
There are a variety of ways diversion or counterfeiting can be committed in the legal cannabis industry. For example, employees of a company could divert product to the black market. Or a company could mislabel a product in order to sell it at a higher price point. Aurinko will ultimately protect the licensed producer’s brand, as well as the end user.
For example, she says, “if Canopy Growth has a shipment that is diverted to the black market, that hurts their brand.” And if consumers are using an inaccurately labeled product, that could potentially be hazardous to their health, she adds.
“The network will find vulnerabilities in the cannabis supply chain very quickly,” she says — far faster than a human would be able to identify diversion or fraud.
In terms of the code and machine-learning process, the closest comparison Tremble can make is Google Translate. She explored blockchain for a long time, but found that for preventing fraud, blockchain wouldn’t be truly effective.
“It’s a really great technology, very innovative,” she says, “but for preventing fraud and diversion, having an immutable ledger is not enough.”