Let’s play! Could YOU create an enterprise blockchain that wins us the war on methamphetamines?

3 min.
two persons working in a lab

Smart contracts are absolutely amazing at keeping track of data in the virtual world. Every time one piece of information is passed forward, it gets recorded into a ledger. That information can be traced back to its origin and throughout its entire journey in the most reliable way possible. Each operation is notarized and 100% verifiable and reliable. 

This is a mental exercise. It involves institutions, private companies, private citizens with private health records and the underground world of meth labs. It requires a complex system and various degrees of autonomy, privacy and transparency. Ultimately, it stretches the imagination of all problem-solvers out there.

Both cough syrup and high purity methamphetamines use ephedrine as an important component. This is a substance that the DEA repeatedly tried to control during the 90s. They pushed for the replacement of the component, moving it on a controlled substance list, track it or otherwise limit access to it. Essentially, they wanted to trace ephedrine throughout the supply chain so that none leaks into the black markets.

This is an impossible task using the old pen-and-paper approach. Alternatively, it would be a formidable competitor to enterprise blockchain. Blockchains can trace a complex supply chain with great accountability AND proper privacy.

How can someone trace a tagged chemical component like ephedrine on the market? This is a starting point for an exercise you might want to toy with to see what comes out of it. Your end goal is to reliably trace the tagged component in a market that looks like this:

  1. Regulatory agencies regulate and ensure that factories are compliant. There are only a handful of primary suppliers capable of producing ephedrine. Your starting point is highly manageable.
  2. Factories supply ephedrine to countless pharmaceutical companies in your country. This is a flexible number. New companies register every year, others go out of business.
  3. Operations between companies are highly confidential. Only the two parties involved should be able to see the details of the trade (supply, pricing etc.)
  4. For the sake of our exercise, Two cheater companies, registered as small pharmaceutical companies, leak ephedrine onto the underground market as an alternative. We want to make it impossible for them to operate.
  5. The exit point is pharmacies. Customers can only buy up to three bottles of cough syrup at a time. Nothing is stopping the bad actors from doing rounds at multiple pharmacies to load up on as much cough syrup as they can. We want these activities to cease.
  6. There are two state authorities involved. The FDA grants certificates and regulates the market. The DEA supervises the market. They both have very limited resources. You get extra points if the two institutions get zero access to confidential information, while still identifying bad actors.

Our model created in Astrakode in under 1.5 hours

By filling out the form below, you can see our own sample model done in AstraKode. It has been an amazing exercise and a great journey. Try out your own approach, see how AstraKode feels first-hand and what it can do. 

Here we can discuss this topic, brainstorm and critique code. 

Weaponizing an enterprise blockchain in the war on drugs is a great aspiration that would change the life of many. The very real opioid, quaalude, and methamphetamine crisis inspired this article.

It is important to say that tracing the supply is not sufficient. Moving harmful substances behind the counter appears to be an additional essential solution, according to our research for this article.


Posted By

Hanan Akmel

Hanan Akmel

Business Developer & Marketing Specialist
Hanan is a Business Developer at AstraKode. With experience in digital marketing within the blockchain and tech industries. Her expertise in agile methodologies and product development contributes to ... read more


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