Legal cannabis (recreational, medical, or both) is now available in 38 states, Washington, DC, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands allowing more than 250 million adults access to smokables, edibles, oils, tinctures, and an ever-growing roster of recreational products. Experts expect cannabis to surpass $25 billion by 2025, making a “seed to sale” Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system integrating Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance (Metrc) indispensable. Karan Wadhera, manager of Casa Verde Ventures, says “compliance is the backbone of the cannabis industry … If a license holder isn’t compliant, their business will cease to exist… [Metrc has become] one of the de facto track-and-trace systems.”
Utilizing cloud-based software and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, Metrc enables cannabis industry professionals to work with local and state regulators, testing facilities, and law enforcement by tracking and tracing “cannabis from growth, harvest, and processing to testing, transport, and sale.”
At viability, all cannabis plants receive an “RFID tag embedded with a unique chip that carries coded regulatory information. Every time the tag is scanned, its unique ID [UID] is verified, making it nearly impossible to counterfeit.” The tag is scanned throughout all production stages, allowing cannabis-industry operators to report mandated events and information and “regulators to oversee license holders’ activities and monitor and enforce compliance.” Cannabis packaging also carries a unique UID guaranteeing consumers an authentic and safe product with accurate labeling. Dispensaries in numerous states and Washington, DC, currently use Metrc.
Each state contracting Metrc mandates training and implementation before issuing a cannabis license, though fees, regulatory agencies, and complexity vary by state. Metrc California charges nothing to use the system or receive tags. Support and training are included in the license fees. Metrc Oklahoma charges licensees $40 monthly and the cost of RFID tags (a plant tag costs 45 cents; packaging tags cost a quarter). It is implemented by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) oversees Metrc Oregon. Metrc Michigan assists the state in verifying licenses, “affirming the credentials of growers, processors, testing facilities, transport services, and dispensaries,” while Alaska grants system access after simple webinar-style training.
With a tangle of state and local laws, various commercial growers, producers, and testing labs, cannabis businesses must stress compliance and efficiency to ensure a steady product flow. Noncompliant testing facilities can induce contaminated products and recalls. Weak links between commercial growers, state and local regulators, testing labs, dispensaries, or law enforcement can break or slow the supply chain.
Here’s how Metrc-integrated ERP systems keep the cannabis supply chain moving:
- A highly transparent and accurate seed-to-sale process optimizes production, simplifies compliance, and minimizes recalls while accelerating recall and trace procedures.
- Commercial growers save time on onerous regulations with simple scanning and reporting procedures, easing “inspection, auditing, and reporting burdens.”
- By allowing easy integration with “everything from inventory management and tracking systems to transport manifests, test results, and point-of-sale data,” ERPs integrating Metrc can “exchange data between their accounting, business, and inventory systems with the state’s track-and-trace program,” further simplifying, expediting and strengthening the cannabis supply chain.
Just as states carefully regulate alcohol and tobacco, maintaining tight controls over cannabis production, quality control, sales, tax collection, and law enforcement is crucial to protecting the public, the industry, and the state. “Metrc serves more than 300,000 users, including growers, manufacturers, testing facilities, transport providers, dispensaries, state regulators, and law enforcement officials across 19 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.” Here’s why states choose Metrc to implement cannabis regulation:
- Ensures consumers authentic and safe cannabis products by tracking and tracing the cannabis sourced for those products.
- Provides law enforcement a documented chain of custody (COC) keeping black market goods away from minors and preventing diverted products for tax dodging or illegal sales.
- Metrc ensures that cannabis is tested in compliant labs, linking results and COC data while streamlining investigations and recalls.
- State coffers demand and rely upon accurate tax collection. Metrc-compliant platforms ensure the state gets its cut accurately and efficiently.
- Dispensaries rely upon Metrc-compliant growers and producers for quality products with precise labeling.
Regulators mandate Metrc in 19 or about half the legal cannabis states and territories. As the industry, legalization, and cannabis acceptance grow, Metrc is sure to expand alongside. The original seed-to-sale tracking system is also the most “trusted and experienced provider of cannabis regulatory systems in the United States.” When considering an ERP system for a cannabis business or grow facility, make sure it’s Metrc-integrated for easy incorporation between regulatory compliance and other critical business aspects. To better acquaint yourself with Metrc and the states utilizing it, here are three valuable resources to investigate:
- The Ultimate Guide to Metrc in The United States
- Green Country Monitor: What track record does Metrc have in other states for cannabis quality control?