With cannabis laws and regulations differing at the local, state, and federal levels, compliance remains one of the biggest barriers to success facing new businesses trying to enter the industry. In order to avoid having fines (or worse) levied against them, cannabis businesses must understand what these regulations are and how to meet them.
In an effort to add accountability and reduce the risk of quality and safety violations, many states have implemented mandatory seed-to-sale tracking systems. Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance) is one of the biggest names in cannabis compliance and should be a household name for every business within the states in which they operate.
What is Metrc?
Initially pioneered in Colorado back in 2011, Metrc has cemented itself as the leading name in cannabis reporting compliance, operating across 19 states as well as the District of Columbia and Guam. The cloud-based platform offers end-to-end tracking for cannabis for every step of the cannabis supply-chain, including the production, manufacturing, testing, distribution, and sale of cannabis products.
In order to operate within the cannabis industry, states require that businesses register with the government and provide standardized reporting of their operations through Metrc. Not only does this help ensure quality and safety guidelines are being met, it also eases some of the fears many governments share with the introduction of cannabis legalization.
How does it work?
Metrc utilizes a combination of hardware and software to track the movement of cannabis products. Tracking begins with cannabis cultivators and manufacturer, who affix a Metrc-supplied RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag to each plant and inventory product. Each tag contains a unique 24-character alphanumeric identifier known as the UID (unique identifier) or package tag number. These RFID tags are then scanned every time the product changes hands, relaying tracing information to a central database where it can be analyzed to track its origin and movement.
All this data is stored in the cloud, allowing state officials to carry out various functions such as inventory tracking, tracing, data trends analysis, and reporting. To keep compliance simple and easy, Metrc uses an open API (application programming interface) that allows third-party platforms to integrate directly with its database. This means that POS and analytics providers can report data to Metrc on behalf of their users, drastically reducing the time and resource demands associated with manual compliance updating.
To help businesses stay informed on their state’s specific regulations, Metrc provides a directory for each state’s governing body (along with a basic overview of laws and guidelines) on its “Partners” page.
How do I get Metrc-certified?
In order to access Metrc, business owners must first be Metrc-certified. Thankfully, the process isn’t too complicated. For a basic checklist of tasks:
- Contact Metrc to register for webinar
- Attend webinar and complete manager training
- Pass test
- Gain access to your API key
- Provide your API to your POS or analytics platform
- Contact Metrc for UID tags
The test consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, which, when completed, will then provide you with your personal API key. Metrc provides a host of training materials on its website and on YouTube to help prepare businesses and employees for its test.
How can data analytics help?
Although POS systems are useful to facilitate transactions and track sales information, they lack the versatility and scope necessary to drive insights at an enterprise-level scale. The reality is, cannabis businesses are generating and collecting valuable data from across their entire operation. To truly capitalize on this data and protect your business from potential compliance infractions, you need a dedicated analytics platform.
With CannaBI, built upon Dimensional Insight’s award-winning Diver Platform, businesses can ingest all of their various data feeds into one central location. Built-in standardization and automated reporting ensure that not only do all your users have access to the same reliable and accurate data, but also you reduce the risk of providing outdated information to Metrc. Users can compare the results of hard audits to what’s recorded in their systems to determine if there are any irregularities long before a government official does.
To learn more about what data analytics can do for your cannabis tech ecosystem, check out our white paper—”Cannabis Technology Landscape—Bridging the Gap with Analytics.”
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