By Pace La Via • March 11, 2019

How and Why To Avoid Problems With Metrc's Seed-To-Sale Regulatory System: A Real Life Lesson

As any cannabis business owner will tell you, the single most mission-critical aspect of running a successful, scalable cannabis operation is proper inventory management practices. And in today’s world, proper inventory management goes hand in hand with robust information technologies now used to capture data and create actionable reports. If something goes wrong with the system or the system is used improperly huge financial losses can result. And in worst case scenarios licenses can also be revoked.

We mention this because just such a mishap occurred recently, and it’s far better to learn from the mistakes of others than wait until they happen to you. This is just one example of how inventory tracking issues can result in huge setbacks.

The case in point is Alternative Therapies Group, a licensed retailer in Salem, Mass. which has been selling medical cannabis since June of 2015, and which recently, in Dec. 2018, added recreational marijuana to their offering. ATG was the first medical shop in the state and also the first of just two recreational shops to open their doors in Eastern Mass. and the Greater Boston area.

On February 20, recreational sales were temporarily put on hold by ATG after something went wrong with the transfer of information between their operation and the state’s tracking system, known as Metrc.

In a blog post published as a result of the problem, Chris Edwards, the executive director of ATG claimed that inventory data “became corrupted in the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.”  

The Cannabis Control Commission said in a statement that the system “remains fully functional“ and that the issues are the result of “improper inventory management practices.” The CCC went on to say, “the challenges are limited to their operations.”

Here’s the CCC’s vague explanation of the problem:

“The Cannabis Control Commission remains confident in the tracking system’s ability to detect discrepancies in the data, which licensees upload, that signal when potential public health and safety risks may exist. To prevent diversion, the sale of contaminated products, and other issues, Commission investigators will continue to regularly inspect marijuana establishments to ensure they tag, upload, and trace all inventory correctly.” - Mass. CCC

Regardless of the events leading up to the issue, ATG issued an apology to its customers saying the problem “is preventing us from transferring recreational inventory from our cultivation and product manufacturing facility (or from third-party vendors) into the Salem dispensary.”

According to Edwards, “The METRC support team and the Cannabis Control Commission have been working hard to correct the problem, but it is a time-consuming and complex process. We deeply regret that we will not be able to honor recreational customers, even those with scheduled appointments, until further notice. We do not have an expected timeline for the problem to be resolved at the moment.”

But something was amiss at ATG. In order to limit lines and traffic around the store, ATG requires customers to make an advance appointment, but as of the morning after the mishap, their online reservation system was unavailable. Fortunately for ATG the glitch only affected their ability to transfer flower products. Other products, however, such as vape cartridges were not affected and were still being sold for medical use. There has been no update on ATG’s website nor on Twitter or Facebook the incident.

What is Metrc and how is it used?

The METRC system is a cannabis specific inventory system, or seed-to-sale system, that tracks marijuana products through the entire supply chain. All medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries in Mass. are required to report their activity via the state’s Metrc system. Metrc is "specifically designed for government agencies in charge of legalized marijuana enforcement," according to Metrc's website.

Regardless of whether or not the problem lies with ATG or the CCC or Metrc, or whether it was human error or a technical glitch, there’s a lesson in there for all cannabis operations. It is incumbent upon any operation that wishes to minimize these types of mishaps to implement their own seed-to-sale system to capture data and have it readily available for reporting.

Cannabis ERP systems don’t just need to be robust enough to run a vertically-integrated operation from seed to sale and to be able to accommodate multiple operations in multiple states; they also need to interface with government systems such as Metrc.

Viridian Sciences Seed-to-Sale Cannabis ERP

Viridian Sciences is a cannabis ERP and seed-to-sale tracking system which is used by cannabis operations around the globe big and small. The robust and reliable system is developed and supported by titans in both seed-to-sale and enterprise resource planning solutions.  

Viridian Sciences chief systems architect and programmer is Justin Dufour. Very few developers can match Dufour’s experience as a designer of ERP systems. He has developed systems used by major banks and oil companies, restaurants, breweries, government agencies and more. Dufour has a BS in computer science, BS in finance and accounting, MS in industrial science, MS in industrial engineering, plus a law degree. Moreover, Dufour comes from a family of growers and has extensive experience in the operations of cannabis cultivation and retail facilities.

Dufour developed Viridian Sciences in partnership with global ERP giant, SAP, a multinational software corporation based in Germany. SAP has regional offices in 180 countries and over 335,000 customers.

In a recent interview, Dufour stated, “compliance systems are put in by the states are not intended to keep you compliant. If you have a compliance system, should you be able to go out of compliance? No! The system should ensure that you remain in compliance. And if you go out of compliance, it should tell you can’t do that. That’s what SAP does. It puts up a big old red bar that says you can’t deliver this without putting a delivery date in.”

Viridian Sciences is used by growers around the globe. Whether you are a producer, processor, or retailer of cannabis products, Viridian Sciences has a solution for your business. Built on the established and reliable SAP Business One platform, Viridian Sciences’ solution is designed to keep any size growing operation running smoothly and maximizing yields while maintaining strict compliance demands.

Check out our full range of cannabis ERP and seed-to-sale technology solutions on our website and contact us to set up a 1-1 meeting with one of our representatives!