Cointelegraph spoke to MaryJanecoin developer, Gabriel Ballerini (aka, Jahvinci), to get an inside look at the new marijuana-backed altcoin, at its disruptive potential, and at the challenges facing the cannabis industry.
Maryjanecoin is a cryptocurrency tailored for the cannabis economy. Each coin is backed by 1 gram of cannabis bubblehash concentrate product. It was created in response to the problem of banks being unwilling to work with the nascent industry that could facilitate transactions, wage payments and provide other opportunities for businesses in states where medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal.
“The end of prohibition is going to coincide very nicely with the rise of bitcoin.”
— Gabriel Ballerini
Cointelegraph: Why did you create MJcoin?
Gabriel Ballerini: MaryJanecoin was created out of a perfect storm of necessity and technology. With the current banking system unwilling to work with dispensary owners in states like Colorado and Washington, MaryJane was created to fill in the gap with electronic payments.
As the push toward full-scale legalization continues, more and more people are starting to work in the cannabis industry. Dispensary owners are looking to provide their employees with normalized wage payments, preferably not in cash. There are a lot of risks to having large amounts of cash on hand, and frankly it's a pain in the ass.
“We want to be able to pay our employees electronically. That's where the beauty of cryptocurrency comes in.”
[MaryJanecoin founder] Adam Garrity has a lot of contacts with dispensary owners and they are all singing the same tune. We want to be able to pay our employees electronically. That's where the beauty of cryptocurrency comes in. Maryjanecoin is providing employers a way to pay their employees without the need to carry large amounts of cash.
With this sort of technology, employers will be able to automate payments to employees and set up smart payment systems that can really disrupt the legacy process of banks needing to be involved at every turn of the corner. The possibilities of a programmable payment system are endless.
- MaryJanecoin founder, Adam Garrity
CT: Who is behind MaryJanecoin?
GB: MaryJanecoin has two full time developers, Adam and I (Jahvinci). I was brought on by Adam a few months ago to ease the workload and bring in some fresh ideas. Between the two of us, we've got a great handle on the workload and have been making a lot of very substantial steps toward becoming the leading cannabis altcoin.
With that being said, we are open to recruiting new talent and expanding the team. While Adam and I are leading the charge, we have a lot of help within our community.
CT: Why can’t the dispensaries just use bitcoin?
GB: MaryJanecoin offers free promotion throughout our social media network, which currently boasts 16,700 followers on Instagram, as well as huge followings on Facebook and Twitter. Any businesses that accept MaryJanecoin will be promoted by Adam, who is very well connected in the cannabis industry. If there is someone who you want promoting your cannabis business, it's Adam Garrity.
Aside from the free advertising, Maryjanecoin will be donating quantities of bubble hash to participating dispensaries to be used for our price peg of one gram of concentrate to one MaryJanecoin. This will certainly draw lots of customers and generate quite a bit of fanfare for each participating dispensary.
“[T]he process of obtaining bitcoins needed to buy MaryJanecoin can be seen as quite daunting for an inexperienced user base. ATMs are going to prove they are very useful in this respect.”
CT: Do you have any plans for ATMs, or integration with cannabis vending machines, such as those of ZaZZZ?
GB: Yes! We are looking into that. ATMs are a great way to reduce the friction of buying MaryJanecoin. Currently, the process of obtaining bitcoins needed to buy MaryJanecoin can be seen as quite daunting for an inexperienced user base. ATMs are going to prove they are very useful in this respect. You can expect to see developments in this area over the next year, as we are very interested in getting linked up with products such as ZaZZZ.
CT: Why does MaryJanecoin use a proof-of-work (POW) and proof-of-stake (POS) hybrid?
GB: We decided to take this route to guard against the notorious 51% attacks. The POW portion provides reliable network strength, while the POS provides protection from nefarious miners.
We also like the idea that people can choose which system to participate in. If someone is concerned about the security risk from staking coins, they can support the network through POW. If the user doesn't have expensive mining hardware and still wants to contribute to the network, they can stake through POS. Going hybrid has been a win-win situation across the board.
CT: How is MaryJanecoin different from other popular cannabis cryptocurrencies, such as PotCoin and CannabisCoin?
GB: MaryJanecoin is the only cryptocurrency in the world backed by bubblehash concentrate. We are branding as the premium class of cannabis crypocurrency. Not only are we offering the highest quality cannabis product, but we also have a proven track record of providing fantastic-quality product to our consumers.
No other coin in this crypto space can say that. Anyone can check out Adam's social media accounts and look at the caliber of product we bring to the table. We created our own coin when we realized how little transparency there was in this sector. From day one, the goal has been to provide users with a sense of transparency and accountability.
No other coin is has gone to the lengths that we have to provide our users with tangible steps toward full transparency. Lastly, we're very open toward our community. We are constantly seeking input from our base of users, and always open to ideas and suggestions.
CT: What dispensaries are currently using MaryJanecoin?
GB: We are currently accepted at a dispensary called The Peaceful Choice, out of Boulder, Colorado. There is also a small business called Urban Massage out of Denver, Colorado that accepts MaryJanecoin for massages. Those are just the businesses that already accept us. There are several more businesses that we are in talks with that are intrigued by the idea of digital currency.
There will be many more businesses adopting MaryJanecoin in the coming months as we have switched gears toward mass adoption now. We have some pamphlets coming, outlining the process of installation and use of MaryJanecoin. This will really speed things up. We have a very active community, and that's really fueling the push toward adoption. We have community members in Florida putting in some serious work promoting us to local businesses.
CT: What is the going rate for a gram of bubblehash and how and where can users exchange their coins for the physical product?
GB: Retail price for a gram of bubblehash can sell for anywhere from US$10-US$35, depending on the quality. The price peg is a very delicate process, and it's going to be "phased in," meaning the 1-for-1 peg will be honored for specific periods of time at specific dispensaries.
Currently we are limiting the amount that can be exchanged to 1 gram per person, per day for phase one. Don't expect to pick up 1,000 grams of bubblehash for 1,000 MaryJ the first day of the event. Phase one will last approximately one week. The reason we are opting to phase it in, is to allow the price of each coin to catch up the product it's pegged to. Once each coin is in the US$3-4 range, then the price of each coin will be approaching the cost of production, greatly reducing the subsidization required on our end.
We are fully prepared to get this thing kickstarted by donating a lot of product. By limiting the amount each person can redeem at first, it will really smooth out the transition. In a couple years, there will be no restrictions as the price of each coin will undoubtedly surpass the price of each gram. Participating dispensaries in the peg program will be announced closer to the event, which is expected to begin implementation in the next year.
CT: What issues did you have with your network and wallet that you recently fixed?
GB: Turned out to be nothing too serious, just a couple expired nodes. We added a few nodes, and encouraged our community to stake their coins. Since updating the nodes and getting the community involved in the staking, things have run very smoothly. The transactions are just about instant. We also have some very valued community members hosting nodes on their personal servers. We have a great community.
“There are [MaryJanecoin] ads being put up on billboards in Connecticut, Washington, Colorado, California, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Florida at this very moment. You will be seeing us all over the place.”
CT: What have you been up to lately, and how do you plan to promote MaryJanecoin?
GB: Over the past few months we have been up to quite a bit. Fixing our network and updating the wallet certainly consumed a bit of time. We also re-established Bittrex as our main trading hub after getting deposits and withdrawals back online. Having finished that a couple weeks ago, we went ahead and redesigned our website, allowing us to switch gears toward promotion.
We had some graphic designers make some ads for us and we are implementing a huge advertising campaign stretching across the United States. There are ads being put up on billboards in Connecticut, Washington, Colorado, California, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Florida at this very moment. You will be seeing us all over the place.
“The cannabis industry is one of the industries that is truly begging to be disrupted by cryptocurrency.”
CT: How bullish are you on the crypto-cannabis industry? Do you expect the wave of legalization to continue, and do you think it will happen on a federal level?
GB: I am exceedingly bullish on this industry. The end of prohibition is going to coincide very nicely with the rise of bitcoin. I could not ask for a better scenario. The cannabis industry is one of the industries that is truly begging to be disrupted by cryptocurrency. I fully expect the federal government to continue taking steps toward full legalization. MaryJanecoin, conveniently, is backing the two industries I am extremely bullish on.