Jessica VerSteeg has lived herself a life. She’s an ex-beauty queen, a world-famous model, and a onetime contestant on The Amazing Race. She’s traveled the world, made great money, and grown famous in the process. But VerSteeg’s ambitions are far bigger than fame. Bigger even than cash.
She wants to change the world by making weed legit. She really might pull it off too, by being the founder and public face of Paragon, a company seeking to bring blockchain technology to the cannabis business (and, perhaps in time, all of agriculture). By creating a digital ledger for marijuana transactions up and down the entire supply chain, VerSteeg and her husband Egor Lavrov, may potentially solve the weed industry’s massive transparency problem. They’ll also become a de-facto certifier of sorts, allowing end users to understand the products they consume to an incredibly nuanced degree, thereby killing the “weed is a drug” stigma still prevalent across society.
This week, between ecinomic summits and a whilwind schedule of meetings, VerSteeg sat down to talk with Uproxx about blockchain, the personal loss that compelled her to enter the cannabis inudstry, and Paragon’s famous spokesperson, rapper-entrepenuer The Game.
Let’s start with how got into this field. I guess, for you it started with weed, right?
I started with cannabis. I created a company in San Francisco called AuBox, and it was a monthly subscription service to medical marijuana. After running that company, and I saw most of my suppliers were pretty honest, they had already gone through a vetting process, so they were pretty good suppliers, but I would say 10% of them … I realized that their lab results, which just came to me on a piece of paper, were fabricated, photoshopped, edited, and that’s pretty dangerous.
At that point, California’s cannabis was just medicinal. You’re giving this product to cancer patients or to children with epilepsy, and they’re thinking that they’re getting something that’s organic or something that’s pure CBD, because that’s what the supplier says it is. That’s what their lab results say.
I realized that we couldn’t take these kinds of risks with just trusting a piece of paper, so I started re-testing these products that I had questions about. My instincts were right. They were fabricated lab results. So, I then turned to my husband and asked if there was a way that we could start getting these results in a blockchain to at least compare the farming data with the lab data.