Jessica VerSteeg Talks Transparency, Touchdowns, Tech & THC

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Simply off Sundown
Boulevard within the coronary heart of Hollywood, the Paragon workplaces look pretty
nondescript from the road. With a fleet of luxurious autos parked in entrance
and an exclusive-looking personal entrance, the area might home any variety of
Hollywood studios, post-production workplaces or company headquarters. However as soon as
you’ve made it previous the intercom-protected gates and been greeted by Priscilla,
a blue brindle French bulldog who trots round like she owns the place, it’s
clear this isn’t simply any LA stylish workplace area.

Certain, there are lounge-like areas, open flooring plans and even a ping-pong desk, however the true epicenter of Paragon is an inviting courtyard with built-in seating, a really perfect spot for opening your laptop computer to work and having fun with a joint within the California solar. It’s this imaginative and prescient for a cannabis co-working, occasions and networking area that launched ParagonSpace in 2018. The multi-functional area can also be HQ for the ParagonCoin, a blockchain service launched in 2017 by Paragon CEO Jessica VerSteeg.

Monitoring Hashish With Blockchain

The
“model-slash-fill-in-the-blank” class is strong in Los Angeles.
Mannequin-slash-singers, model-slash-actors and model-slash-dancers are de rigueur in a city crammed with
Midwestern transplants chasing their massive Hollywood desires. However
model-slash-tech-innovator-slash-cannabis-CEO? That’s a primary.

VerSteeg’s
label-defying nature is pushed by her distinctive mixture of abilities. She’s strikingly
stunning and surprisingly approachable; each of those qualities contributed to
her success as a mannequin and a magnificence queen — she was, in any case, Miss Iowa United
States 2014. However you don’t should get too far into to a dialog with
VerSteeg to see that she’s additionally brilliant, curious and bursting with artistic
power.

And nowadays,
the factor that’s captured VerSteeg’s creativeness is the way forward for blockchain
expertise because it pertains to the cannabis business. VerSteeg explains that the
major mission of the Paragon staff is to develop software program that tracks cannabis
from seed to sale and interfaces with the state’s system, Metrc.

Merely put,
blockchain is an inalterable digital account that information all transactions and
info associated to a single product. With California’s stringent
seed-to-sale monitoring and merchandise altering palms a number of instances earlier than reaching
the buyer, VerSteeg sees blockchain as providing a really perfect resolution for the
business to determine transparency with customers who more and more care about
the place their cannabis comes from.

Picture Courtesy Jessica VerSteeg

“In the long run, I envision this benefitting the cannabis business by making a extra trusting, clear business,” VerSteeg says. “Let’s create an business that’s so clear that it’s higher than Huge Pharma. Why wouldn’t folks select this over opioids if we’re in a position to create an business that’s clear?”

As soon as Metrc is up
and operating, VerSteeg says that Paragon shall be too. Within the meantime, she has
been working to develop a system of “sensible contracts” — digital blockchain-friendly
paperwork that can lock in all the things from testing outcomes to cultivation
particulars. The profit to monitoring all of this knowledge in blockchain is that after
the data is within the system, it can’t be altered or edited.

Paragon can even monitor the transaction particulars between cultivator and distributor, distributor and testing lab, distributor to retailer and eventually, retailer to buyer. Not solely will all of this knowledge be collated right into a Metrc-ready format that can facilitate compliance and reporting and for firms alongside the provision chain, however the client can even have entry to it through a QR code on the package deal.

The Roots of the Trigger

“Hashish was
by no means one thing I assumed I’d be part of,” admits VerSteeg, recalling how, as
a toddler introduced up within the period of D.A.R.E. propaganda, she didn’t need to have
something to do with cannabis.

However the plant grew to become a problem in her life when her then-boyfriend Tyler Sash, who was on the time enjoying within the NFL for the New York Giants, got here to her and requested if she thought he might smoke cannabis to assist ease his ache.

“He wanted ankle
surgical procedure, and he was having neck points, again points, head points. That was his
greatest factor: shoulder pains, he had six pins in every shoulder,” remembers
VerSteeg. VerSteeg discouraged Sash, reminding him the drug was federally
unlawful — and banned by the NFL.

“I want I’d by no means
mentioned that to him,” she says. “We have been younger, and also you belief the NFL as a result of
they’re such an enormous company, and also you develop up with it, particularly in America.
It’s ‘America’s sport.’ And also you belief docs.”

However as Sash’s journey
within the NFL continued, VerSteeg discovered extra about how the NFL and its docs
function, and says she watched them encourage Sash to make use of opioids with reckless
abandon.

“He actually
referred to as [the pill dispensers] ‘sweet machines.’ Simply put your capsule bottle beneath
it. Twist it like an M&M machine, fill it up and there you go. You get as
a lot as you need of those painkillers,” she says.

In a preseason
sport of the 2013 season, Sash obtained what was no less than his fifth concussion
throughout his time within the NFL, which in line with VerSteeg, was the unofficial
most allowed by the league. The Giants lower him from the roster after
reaching an damage settlement.

“After the fifth
concussion, you’re out,” VerSteeg says. “Not simply out of the NFL, however out of
capsules.”

In 2017, the Boston College CTE Heart introduced that it had discovered proof of CTE in 99% of the previous NFL gamers whose brains it studied.

VerSteeg grew to become
involved when Sash’s habits started to alter, however she knew he was struggling
with adjusting to post-NFL life. “I used to be so fearful for him,” she says. “Not
having the ability to have that jersey and the sport day and never having the ability to see his
followers, and I knew he was depressed.” However VerSteeg didn’t know precisely how Sash
was adjusting to life with out entry to the NFL docs and their opioid
prescriptions.

Sash started
coaching school athletes in change for capsules and his habits worsened as
his habit deepened, VerSteeg says.

“He grew to become
extraordinarily aggressive, extraordinarily depressed, [was having] loopy temper swings, was
very forgetful… listening to voices. He was very glad one second, after which very unhappy
at one other,” she says. “It wasn’t him. The true him was probably the most real and
loving particular person. This was simply not him and I knew it.”

As a way to get assist,
VerSteeg started reaching out to the NFL.

“I began
calling the NFL, saying, ‘I feel he has dementia; I don’t assume it’s
despair.’ Despair isn’t going to make you neglect these items and listen to
voices. And on the time, the film ‘Concussion’ hadn’t come out, and the NFL
actually wasn’t vocal about CTE,” says VerSteeg, referring to continual traumatic
encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative illness attributable to repeated head accidents,
and the film about it launched in 2015, starring Will Smith. “They mentioned,
there’s no approach he has dementia, he’s too younger. He’s simply depressed. And he was
sleeping 20 hours a day and vomiting nonstop, they usually mentioned, these are all
signs of despair. Let him sleep.”

On the time,
VerSteeg was unaware that the NFL had recognized for years that CTE was a type of dementia and that
its gamers had extraordinarily excessive charges of incidence of the illness.

It wasn’t till early
2014 when VerSteeg discovered a handful of undissolved capsules in Sash’s vomit that
she started to piece collectively what was actually occurring together with her accomplice.

“I understood
then that it was an habit,” she mentioned.

When VerSteeg
confronted Sash in regards to the capsules, it solely made issues worse. VerSteeg says she
ended up within the hospital when issues turned violent between the them and she or he
knew he wanted to get clear, so the 2 separated and VerSteeg moved to San
Francisco in August of 2014.

“I used to be wanting up
each different to painkillers. All I wished to know was how we might get
again collectively,” she says.

It wasn’t lengthy
till she got here throughout cannabis as a ache administration different to opioids.
VerSteeg was stunned to see that Sash had been proper to start with, however
blames feeling a breakup-related resentment for her determination to not attain out
and inform Sash. He had a girlfriend and he appeared clear, so the 2 made plans
to satisfy up in October 2015. That assembly by no means came about, as a result of Sash died of
an overdose in September 2015.

“It was actually,
actually, actually onerous for me,” says VerSteeg, who admits she spun right into a deep
despair after Sash’s loss of life. “I blamed myself for not telling him about
marijuana and what I discovered…. However I ought to have no less than mentioned, ‘You have been proper.
That is another. And when you’re nonetheless in ache, it’s best to really feel
snug with marijuana, as a result of I do know you wished it, and I’m sorry I mentioned
no initially.’”

Within the time since his loss of life, Sash’s sister Megan Wieland spoke to the Des Moines Register, asking VerSteeg to cease utilizing Sash’s story to advertise her enterprise.

“If she desires to
have a enterprise that’s fantastic. We simply want she would go away Tyler out of
it,” Wieland mentioned.

In 2017, the
Boston College CTE Heart introduced that it had discovered proof of CTE in 99%
of the previous NFL gamers whose brains it studied. Sash’s title was on the listing
of gamers affected, along with his severity a stage two out of 4.

Persevering with Advocacy

VerSteeg mentioned Sash’s
story has, in a roundabout approach, pushed her ardour for transparency within the
cannabis area as she interprets that to cutting-edge applied sciences. In 2014,
she based Au Field, a high-end month-to-month subscription field (now defunct) curated
to supply high-end cannabis merchandise to discerning medical marijuana sufferers.

“I created it out
of [feeling] so responsible about what occurred with my ex,” VerSteeg says. “I didn’t
need anybody else to endure, and thought that possibly in the event that they noticed cannabis in a
nicer mild, they wouldn’t choose their accomplice or their youngsters or their
grandparents.”

VerSteeg mentioned she
was dedicated to sourcing solely high-quality merchandise and required lab exams
from all of her provider companions earlier than California’s adult-use rules
handed with Proposition 64 made it necessary. However when she got here throughout a
provider who had been presenting falsified lab outcomes, she knew there was a
downside that wanted to be fastened.

“I assumed, sh*t,
this isn’t good. I used to be giving this to precise sufferers, and I wished folks
have good merchandise. I wished to repair this.”

That’s precisely the place VerSteeg is with Paragon right now — working to develop tamper-proof outcomes that customers can belief.

So far, cannabis
is a banned substance within the NFL, and gamers who take a look at optimistic for cannabis
are topic to heavy fines and suspensions. Along with its ache administration
qualities, THC and CBD each seem like neuroprotectants and have been proven
to scale back trauma following a head damage.  

Armed with this
data and with the reminiscence of Sash in her coronary heart, VerSteeg is a frequent
letter-writer to the NFL, admonishing them for his or her outdated insurance policies on
cannabis, CTE and the over-prescription of opioids. One such letter concludes
with a heartfelt plea, made in Sash’s honor: “I might additionally encourage the NFL to permit gamers the choice
of painkillers OR cannabis to ease their ache,” she writes. “Not each participant
desires to be pumped with opioids. Everyone knows you’re keen on your gamers since you
see greenback indicators over their heads, however it’s time that you simply begin loving your
gamers as people and caring about what’s of their heads.”

Editor’s Be aware: Because the reporting of this story, ParagonCoin
introduced in an SEC submitting that it will be promoting the ParagonSpace workplace
constructing and ceasing to function a cannabis co-working area. Within the submitting,
ParagonCoin mentioned it will now focus solely on creating its blockchain
expertise.

TELL US, what makes you keen about
cannabis legalization?

Initially revealed in Difficulty 37 of Hashish Now. LEARN MORE

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