A Comprehensive Overview of the Metrc Track and Trace System for the Cannabis Industry
This is a Comprehensive Overview of the Metrc system for the legal commercial cannabis industry. It includes information on how the Metrc system works, what states mandate Metrc, why Metrc compliance is vital, what Metrc package tags are, how to get started with Metrc, and how to track events. We’ll also briefly touch on integration with 3rd party software using API keys.
Table of Contents
What is Metrc - Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance?
So what does Metrc stand for? Metrc stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance. It is a web-based and state-mandated software platform developed by Franwell to enforce legal cannabis industry compliance and accountability. It allows for the end-to-end tracking and traceability of the cannabis supply chain, sometimes referred to as “seed to sale” or “track and trace” software. This includes the production, manufacturing, testing, distributing, and selling of cannabis plants and cannabis products. Metrc is used for both recreational and medical marijuana and is used in a majority of legal states.
The purpose of the Metrc system is two-fold: one, to provide transactional and inventory data to state cannabis regulators so they can monitor and enforce compliance; two, it helps cannabis businesses stay compliant and organized throughout the entire supply chain.
Are You In a Metrc Mandated State?
Mandated in 18 states plus Washington D.C., Metrc is similar everywhere, but there are differences in each state to be aware of and adhere to so your cannabusiness is compliant. If you are dealing with Alaska Metrc compliance? Then would not want to enroll in a Metrc Michigan training program. Regulatory compliance differs from state to state.
What Does Metrc Track?
What is the Metrc platform (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) actually tracking? It tracks the different growth phases and cannabis plant movements. If a plant is taken to a different room, thrown out, or delivered to an extraction lab, or retail store it is recorded by Metrc. Essentially it tracks all cannabis and packages.
What Doesn’t Metrc Do?
While Metrc is a robust resource in many ways, it’s important that legal cannabis industry businesses and users understand what it doesn’t do. Cannabis Metrc provides data to regulators throughout the entire supply chain, not to the cannabis businesses themselves. The software itself does not replace dispensary point-of-sale systems, inventory tracking solutions, or customer relationship management processes. Disappointing but for now it’s strictly for regulators.
Metrc serves a single purpose – making sure dispensaries and other cannabis operations maintain compliance. Every state’s Metrc instance is unique when it comes to regulations and requirements, which means that every new integration requires research into what information they need from your dispensary in order for you to be compliant with their specific needs.
- Capture or Centralize Business Data – Metrc is a system that captures essential seed-to-sale data for retail business intelligence, however, it doesn’t offer any visibility into the data itself and can’t be used as an all-inclusive solution either. Dispensaries will need to acquire third-party solutions with this functionality to get insight on their stores’ data – then connect those systems to Metrc using API keys.
- Produce Comprehensive Reports for Users – The Metrc tracking system can be used to produce comprehensive reports for regulators, but not users. This is problematic because it makes historical inventory valuation difficult or even impossible and that’s exactly what a regulator would ask for in the event of an audit.
- Collect Customer Information or Preferences
- Track 3rd Party Vendor Information
- Track Cash Flows or Taxes
- Track Point of Sale
- Track Non-Cannabis Product
Why Is Metrc Compliance So Important?
Metrc, a seed-to-sale tracking system is an excellent tool for operators to stay compliant and keep their products safe. The easily identifiable chain of custody helps when it comes time to recall products that are not up to standard or have been tampered with in any way by unauthorized individuals.
Metrc has helped set accountability standards for the recreational cannabis industry where they’ve implemented its use as well which benefits both consumers and producers alike.
As Metrc compliance is increasingly and expectedly important for the cannabis industry, enforcement agencies are keeping an ever-watchful eye out. If a business starts showing red flags in Metrc data that could lead to diversion (e.g., inconsistencies), they may be audited, fined, and shut down for a stretch of time.
In good news, closures and fines are the worst things that can happen to a cannabis dispensary, but they only occur when dispensaries don’t comply with regulations. You’re in full control of your regulatory compliance if you make it a priority. Your cannabis license is a privilege, don’t endanger it.
Be extremely careful with red flags with the Metrc interface. So what exactly is a red flag?
- If your Metrc inventory doesn’t match your physical inventory, it’s a huge red flag.
- Processing sales using cannabis packages with no quantities.
- Missing whole days’ worth of retail sales.
- Making improper adjustments within the Metrc system itself. You can adjust or correct but there is no delete so be very careful with making adjustments.
Learn About Metrc Tags
The Metrc system tracks your cannabis plants and products with RFID tags. RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and monitor tags. Metrc tags for both plants and packages unfortunately are not reusable and can be quite expensive.
There are various types of Metrc tags as well. There are tags for plants, and for packaged products. Read on to learn more about a package tag compared to a plant tag.
Metrc Package Tag
The Metrc package tag is a small sticker that you need to use for every package. Unlike traditional plant tags, these numbers are 24-digits long and each UID (unique identifier) corresponds to only one type of cannabis product inside the package. Packages are groups of “items” that are prepared for transfer within the same facility, or for sale to another license holder.
Any cannabis plant or cannabis product that is to be sold, manufactured, or transferred must be placed into one or more packages. Also, packages must have a distinct UID (Unique Identifier).
Metrc Plant Tags
The Metrc plant track and trace tags come in two colors, blue for recreational cannabis sometimes referred to as retail. The tags for medical marijuana plants are yellow. Plant tags are used to identify individuals and batches of plants depending on where they currently are in their growth cycle.
All Metrc plant RFID tracking tags have the facility name, the license number, and an application identifier that corresponds to either a medical marijuana or recreational plant. These tags also contain the tag order date as well as a unique identification number for every single plant.
How to Acquire RFID Tags
Franwell, the developer of the Metrc track and trace system, is the sole provider of RFID tags. It’s very important that you do not run out of tags. Without the tags, you can not transfer plants or package new products.
Your dispensary or cultivation facility should also budget for plant and package RFID tags and as they can be quite pricey depending on the scope of your business.
How to Get Started with the Metrc System
Getting started with Metrc can be overwhelming, here are some of the basics to get you started.
If you are in a Metrc state, here are the basic steps to get your team started in order to use Metrc:
- All employees have to register with Metrc and complete the Metrc training. In order to gain access to your API key you must become certified.
- Obtain your Metrc API key. To locate your API you need to log into Metrc and look under “API keys.” You can use the API key to integrate your third-party software.
- Acquire your plant and package tags from Metrc.
- Start organizing products and confirming tag assignments in Metrc.
- Log into your point of sale (POS) and start the process of intaking your newly tracked products.
Metrc Training, Support, and Resources
Ensuring that your cannabis inventory is always compliant and accurate can be a daunting task. Your cannabis business and license could be on the line. Make sure you take advantage of Metrc training, support, and resources aiming to help you stay in compliance. Getting started with Metrc doesn’t need to be a problem, rely on professionals and stay the course.
Tracking Events in Metrc
So what events does Metrc actually track in your facility? It’s the ultimate record keeper for all plants and products as we already know, it records movement into other rooms as well as growth phases, keeps track of employees, waste, any type of transfer of inventory, date and time events, processing, and last but not least the repackaging of any cannabis products.
Please note if you make a mistake in Metrc it can not be deleted, however, it can be corrected and adjusted with the system. This cuts down on loopholes and helps support compliance. It can be frustrating but it makes sense when you look at the bigger picture.
How Do I Report Sales Figures to Metrc?
Metrc expects you to record all your sales, every single cannabis product that goes through your point of sale system must be reported. No exceptions and no excuses, this is 100% the responsibility of the licensees.
The good news is reporting to Metrc is quite easy, and there are multiple methods. These methods all have pros and cons and can vary depending on state regulations.
1. Report your sales using the API Push process – Some states require reporting in real-time, but for those that do not, you can use API push processes to report to Metrc. Please note many states want you to report daily, we also recommend you do this daily even if not required. Keep on top of your reporting, it’s vital. This method also allows you to correct any reconciliation before sending.
This is a common feature of many professional third-party seed-to-sale platforms, like Canix, Flowhub, and Trym to name a few.
2. Manually report your data to Metrc – This process uses CSV files (comma separated values) which are quite common today, and something most users understand. However, it can be more time-intensive and leaves more room for errors. Metrc and regulatory bodies might not be so forgiving of human error. The plus side is you can report the data to Metrc when and how you’d like.
3. Send data to Metrc automatically after each individual sales transaction – this process also uses API keys to push and pull data. Many third-party point of sales systems use this method. This system is important for states that require you report after every single transaction. If your Metrc state does not require this please avoid this method. It can cause problems and headaches that are more difficult to reconcile.
PsyCann recommends that you report to Metrc at the end of every business day, that is if your state allows for this method. Keep in mind Metrc is software it can crash, run slowly, or “glitch”. Unfortunately, if this is the case, it’s still your responsibility to get this data to Metrc.
Metrc and Third-Party Integrated Software
Metrc offers an API that allows 3rd party seed-to-sale software systems to integrate with the Metrc cannabis track and trace system. Third-party Metrc integrated software typically offers a better user experience and often additional functionality that benefits the licensees.
As mentioned above the Metrc system is used strictly for regulatory purposes and compliance, users can not glean information about their grow operations or sales using Metrc.
It can be of great benefit to have the ability to centralize and analyze information for cannabis operations. Often times the user interface and experience are also greatly enhanced by utilizing third-party software.
Some of the more popular software solutions are:
Conclusion - The Metrc Track and Trace System
Many users are not big fans of Metrc, it can be time-consuming and quite frustrating at times. It also requires daily due diligence. However, remaining compliant with regulatory systems is vital for your business’s longevity in this industry. When you need help to stay up on compliance regulations or train new employees who will be handling the tools regularly, we’re here for you! We offer free consultations so that we may better understand what’s going on with your company and create a personalized plan together tailored just for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to see how we can help you.