Metrc is software that serves as a reporting tool to track cannabis production and products from ‘seed to sale’ in the legalized cannabis industry for commercial growers. Metrc has been selected by a large number of states to facilitate cannabis compliance data reporting, although each state has slightly different reporting requirements based on their unique regulations.
Metrc stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance. According to Franwell, the makers of Metrc, Metrc intends to create safety and transparency for consumers in the cannabis industry. But transparency and safety are good for operators as well, even if complying can be a pain.
Metrc collects data on cannabis material via unique identifier numbers (UIDs) on growing plants and the resulting packages of cannabis products. As they change hands in the supply chain, each transfer is recorded. The point is to be able to easily retrace the steps – traceability.
What ‘Track and Trace’ really means, is that the state wants a record of your plant’s lives from start to finish. Think about it like this: if a cannabis product, like a vape concentrate, makes someone very ill, a recall will have to be performed. Without a system like this in place, there would be no way to identify where the remaining product in question exist.
WHAT EXACTLY IS TRACKED IN METRC?
What is Metrc interested in tracking, beyond each plant? In simple terms, it’s the activities, growth phases and plant movements – whether it’s to a different room, into waste, or onto an extraction lab or retail store.
Cannabis plants, in all of their growth phases, are tracked with tags that include:
- plant identification number (along with a scannable barcode)
- application identifier (medical or recreational)
- tag order date
- license number
- facility name
WHAT IS A UID?
A UID, which stands for Unique Identifier, is simply an alphanumeric code used to identify a specific plant or cannabis product/by-product. In Metrc, products and by-products are referred to as “items”.
There are two types of tagged inventory in Metrc: Plants and Packages.
Plant tags are used to identify individual and batches of plants depending on where they currently are in their growth cycle.
Packages are groups of “items” that are prepared for transfer or sale to another licensee. Any amount of cannabis or cannabis product that may be sold, manufactured or transferred, must be placed into one or more packages. Each package must have a distinct UID (package tag).
What Is METRC?
METRC stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance. METRC is, as their site states, a “regulatory compliance system,” but that’s a bit vague. In short, it’s a rather elaborate tracking system that serves to monitor cannabis production from day one until its sale. METRC ensures compliance in the cannabis industry by identifying and tagging plants, cannabis, and cannabis products; it also serves as a unique point of sale (POS) platform that further serves to monitor the growth of marijuana, its transportation, and the sale of cannabis. So, what are the intentions behind METRC? What purpose does METRC monitoring serve?
What Are the Intentions Behind METRC?
According to Franwell, the makers of METRC systems, METRC was intended to aid in regulating cannabis growth, sales, and transportation. Franwell states, “only through the harvest and use of quality data can municipalities and the public at large feel confident to take the next steps on the road to complete and fair regulation industry wide.” In addition, Franwell states that “Metrc can be the primary tool for fighting against diversion and illegal use and purchase of cannabis.” So, to be brief, METRC provides a monitoring and live auditing system that is intended to ensure that cannabis is grown, transported, and sold within the constraints of the law. It is a regulation device. In addition, METRC provides all of the following functions:
- METRC Improves Safety & Reduces Illegal Behavior: Through weight and quality monitoring, METRC ensures that cannabis and cannabis products are safe for consumption. In addition, through strict monitoring of cannabis production, illegal cannabis growth and sales can be reduced.
- METRC Enables Central Control & Monitoring: Data retrieved through METRC devices are accumulated and assessed by MED authorities, which improves compliance across cannabis businesses throughout the industry.
- METRC Balances Privacy & Transparency: While data may be accessible to cannabis compliance enforcers and authorities, it is completely private from business to business. Transactions, sales, and other business operations are not shared from one individually owned and operated business to the next.
- METRC Collects Crucial Data: Since METRC collects cumulative economical and operational data, this program provides an overarching view of local and state cannabis industry operations and sales.
- METRC Is Online: Since METRC can be accessed through a protected online portal, METRC services are easily accessible for all cannabis businesses.
What Are Some Common METRC Violations?
Ron Sigman, an ex-law enforcement officer and recently hired criminal investigator for the MED, answered questions regarding METRC in an interview conducted by Marijuana Business Daily. In regards to METRC violations, Sigman stated, “[When it comes to METRC], it’s very common to find violations.” Most often, Sigman informs us, cannabis industry businesses fail to attain current licensing and properly train staff members. In addition, cannabis industry businesses often fail to assess their inventory properly, or they perform inaccurate accounting. Having too many plants or too much inventory are both violations. Sigman also informs us that some businesses face security issues… “they don’t have the proper camera coverage, things like that.” Businesses also neglected to have proper documentation and paperwork on site during MED audits.
A Bit About MED Audits
The Marijuana Enforcement Division has the authority to perform audits of cannabis industry businesses. To check compliance, an MED member may inspect the facilities, operations, and inventory of a business, and they may scrutinize their METRC account to audit for discrepancies between the recorded business proceedings and the actual operations within a given business. Now, when can a business be audited?
According to Ron Sigman from the aforementioned interview, the MED can conduct an audit at any point, and they’ll automatically conduct an audit for a flurry of reasons. First of all, the MED will always perform an audit if a business attains a license or renews an existing license. In addition, the MED will investigate any complaints, including those rendered by customers, employees, and other businesses. Employees are likely to complain to the MED if they “are disgruntled or they’ve been terminated,” according to Sigman. Meanwhile, customers may complain, as Sigman states, “if they’re not satisfied with the service or product they received.”
What does that mean for your business? While it’s good to keep customers satisfied, and to keep employees content, it’s best to stay compliant—which begs the question…