Canopyright's Kelsey Parker on Protecting and Monetizing Cannabis Genetics

Plus, the app's value as a social media alternative

Kelsey Parker is a cannabis marketing professional living in Humboldt County, California. Since graduating from Humboldt State University in 2016, her career has been focused on the intersection of technology, marketing and business operations in the cannabis industry. She is part of the core team that created Canopyright, a blockchain-based app helping cannabis breeders protect and monetize their cultivars.

Parker began working in the tech industry at age 19. Her work has spanned a diverse combination of industries including subscription-based e-learning technology, cannabis adjacent e-commerce, and CPG cannabis brands. Parker has designed the UI of several digital platforms in the cannabis space and has contributed to several nationally and internationally recognized cannabis brands such as URSA Extracts, Northern Emeralds, BEAR Humboldt, Front Row Ag and Craft Farmer.

We spoke with Kelsey for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.


Kelsey, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Pacifica, a coastal town just south of San Francisco. I moved to Humboldt County in 2010, where I now live.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

As of 2021, I am the chief operating officer for Canopyright, a blockchain-based app helping cannabis breeders protect and monetize their unique cultivars—without the expensive lawyer fees! Of our remote team, most of us are here in Humboldt County, and our founder, Jeff Hamilton, lives in Oakland. 

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

For me, cannabis is about the good people who surround it. When I first moved up to Humboldt, I immediately fell in love with how special it is here. It wasn't just the natural beauty of the redwoods and rocky coastlines, it was that the community here looks after each other. Legacy cannabis, in my eyes, is one of the reasons the community culture here is so special. Yes, people are high more often, but there is also a huge amount of trust involved in making that kind of ecosystem work. I was lucky enough to be accepted into a tight-knit community of cultivators who recognized my skills and taught me everything I know about the plant. And now, with Canopyright, I get to channel all of my creativity and passion into perpetuating the altruistic cannabis culture that drew me here in the first place.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

URSA, an extracts brand from Humboldt that I helped build, stays true to the cultivar and it shows in the extracts they make. They source from amazing farmers up here in the Emerald Triangle, and they're constantly showcasing locally bred cultivars that are incredibly complex and unique in their full spectrum concentrates.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

"Community guidelines." Having managed social media accounts for a variety of cannabis brands, I know the pain of shadow bans and censorship. That's why I'm so proud to be building Canopyright to be a social media alternative to browse and share unique cannabis genetics. On Canopyright you can safely showcase, share and browse unique cannabis genetics, and you never have to worry about re-phrasing or censoring yourself. All cannabis-related words, tags and beautiful nug photos are not only just allowed, they're necessary! It's all the good nerdy cannabis stuff, without the bad! The way we built it, we can't see anyone's private data, and there's no advertising in your scrolling feed. Just unique cannabis cultivars shared by the breeders you follow. Sounds refreshing, doesn't it?

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

Every time I see brands showcasing unique cultivars and small farmers, I do a little happy dance. We owe it to them. This whole industry would not exist today without the persistence and sacrifice of all of the legacy operators.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

The Humboldt Grace Legacy Project is a group of breeders, cultivators, scientists, technologists and industry professionals who have been meeting every week to solve the issues that legacy farmers are facing as legalization brings in corporate competition. Canopyright is going to support the auction with cultivar IP protection via Canopyright contracts.

A recent project you're proud of.

I've been building Canopyright, a blockchain-based app that helps cannabis breeders protect and monetize their cannabis genetics. When I came to the Canopyright team, the app was an MVP that was difficult to understand and navigate, but had a solid foundation that used encryption and distributed ledger technology to create smart contracts. I recognized that it had a revolutionary concept driving it—that there could be a cost-effective alternative to IP protection for cannabis cultivars. I loved the dedication to user privacy and potential to bring legacy farmers the value and recognition they deserve. But it needed a user-friendly interface, so I brought my design skills to the table. 

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I'm a huge cannabis and data visualization nerd, so I've been admiring SC Labs' PhytoFacts Chemometric Reports and Medicinal Genomics' genomic reports. Both have done a great job of presenting scientific data in a visually appealing way. We need these kinds of beautiful visual tools to be able to distinguish each cultivar and each batch of flower. 

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

My mentor and colleague Lelehnia DuBois is doing more for the legacy cannabis community than anyone else I know. She's rallying folks together to not only protect their cannabis genetics, but to elevate the value of the craft cannabis legacy.  

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

If I wasn't building Canopyright, I'd try to help Carbon Engineering or a similar sustainable technology company reverse carbon emissions.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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