VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF JUNE 17, 2019

Trace Launches Blockchain
Based Hemp Exchange
Burlington, Vt. – Trace, a Vermont company utilizing blockchain technology to track and verify cannabis products, announced today the launch of Trace Exchange. Trace Exchange is the nation’s first blockchain-based platform where hemp cultivators and buyers can connect and track their plants through the supply chain and integrate their inventory directly with the market.

“Until now, there has been no industry standard for hemp cultivators or buyers to verify their plants and products as they change hands,” said Josh Decatur, founder and CEO of Trace. “By using Trace hemp growers can easily track their harvest from soil to shelf and be connected with potential buyers, putting control back in the hands of farmers in an exciting but uncertain market.”

“Improving the quality of life for all Vermonters means having the courage to be innovative and solve problems that stand between emerging industries and economic growth,” said Greg Huysman, Director of Business Lending and Services at VSECU. “The hemp industry is widely recognized as a potential economic driver for our state. Tools like Trace are helping entrepreneurs safely enter this new arena without taking on undue risk.”

Recent measures enacted federally have legalized hemp in all 50 states, and the U.S. is seeing an unprecedented level of growth in the hemp industry. But with this massive proliferation there has been a notable absence of any kind of system to ensure both regulatory compliance and quality of product within the industry.

“To have a tracking system from seed to sale is beneficial for all,” said Erin Nohl, co-founder of Vermont Farmacy. “Everything is out in the open; there is nothing to hide. It brings a sense of safety for farmers, buyers, and consumers. Trace Exchange is a platform for transparency and honesty within the cannabis industry.”

The unveiling of Trace’s new platform has been met with excitement throughout the cannabis and hemp industries. “When I talk to small farmers and craft cannabis growers, the same concern comes up constantly: “how can we compete against the national marketing machines and distinguish craft cannabis grown by small family farmers from the anonymous corporate cannabis being promoted to consumers?”

The Trace Exchange is a way to directly address this problem for small farmers and allows them to focus on producing quality crops instead of marketing their products,” said Eli Harrington, co-founder and COO of Heady Vermont. “With the Trace Exchange, any small producer or farmer can access markets directly — without paying for a stamp of quality — and receive the full benefit and value of their skills directly.”

Trace plans on extending services to the recreational and medical sectors of the cannabis industry over the coming months. “Trace is a much-welcomed tool for us,” said Chris Walsh, President of the dispensary Grassroots Vermont. “We have always supplied premium quality products and Trace will give our customers unrivaled access to products they can trust.” Hemp cultivators and brokers can go to TraceVT.com to register for the Trace exchange.

VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF JUNE 03, 2019

Vermont Public Health Association Presents
Public Health Champion Award
Bess O’Brien is best known as the producer of such Vermont-centric documentaries as “All of Me,” “The Hungry Heart,” “Journey into Courage,” and “Ask Us Who We Are.” But for the 50 or so attendees of the annual meeting and dinner of the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) on the evening of May 22, O’Brien was a Public Health Champion.

The VtPHA’s Public Health Champion award is given each year to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to public health within the state of Vermont. VtPHA president Sally Kerschner said, “We in public health are well aware that this important work often goes unnoticed. Bess’s films have featured subjects such as heroin addiction, life after prison, foster care, eating disorders, and more. These are all important public health issues. The selection of Bess as our 2019 Public Health Champion is a recognition of the concept that public health isn’t just something that’s promoted by folks at a department of health or other traditional public health organization. It’s something we all share in, and it truly takes a community to make a community healthier.”

O’Brien said, “I am proud and grateful to receive the award and to be recognized for the fact that storytelling through my documentaries and theatre projects is an important part of public health. People who are often seen as invisible need to be heard.”

The evening featured a panel discussion about a cutting-edge initiative to create healthier communities and lower health care costs taking place in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. VtPHA board member Laural Ruggles moderated the discussion, which featured Jenney Samuelson, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health Access, and Shawn Tester, Chief Executive Officer of Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

The program involves using hospital funds to support community-wide initiatives such as food access, transportation, shelter, and more. “Initiatives like the Northeast Kingdom partnership represent an innovative way to support prevention efforts that improve the health of the entire population of these communities,” said Samuelson. “We are all working toward the same goals–to improve the care that individual Vermonters receive, to improve the health of the State’s population, and to lower growth in health care costs. We recognize that healthy communities are central to our work and the well-being of our state.”

Tester said, “It really is about getting beyond just providing high-quality care and addressing the social drivers of health. I’m especially passionate about addressing poverty in the communities we serve. Our partnerships … are really making this possible … We’re not waiting for ‘shared savings’ to make an investment; we’re committing the money up front.”

The Vermont Department of Health Access (DVHA) supports a partnership between two Northeast Kingdom organizations: The OneCare Vermont Accountable Care Organization, a statewide organization of health care and community service providers who have agreed to be accountable for the quality and cost of care for a population; and the Caledonia and Southern Essex County Accountable Community for Health, which is an organization of community leaders with the goal of preventing illness and improving health.

The two organizations are relying on local energy and experience, along with a portion of DVHA payments to community providers, to support prevention programs that keep people healthy so that they can reduce hospital visits.