This is an older post from October 2015, but remains just as relevant for anyone operating in the California Cannabis Industry. Everything that is bold and italicized is updated.
METRC is the same seed to sale tracking system used by Colorado with is in Oregon, Alaska, Michigan, California, and a few more states. I've personally not had the opportunity to use this (and can't wait to get my hands on it). Here's an overview of the system:
- METRC is a web-based solution made up of a browser interface and a mobile application for both the industry and regulatory users. This means you can use the system on your mobile device as well as your computer.
- The system is heavy on audit and compliance. It's main purpose is to allows regulatory users to view all licensee activities captured in the system and ensure that there is a full track of the marijuana from the seed to the final sale to the customer.
- Uses RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology and serialized item tracking. This gives real-time visibility at any given time into the "inventory" at all the locations and does not rely on audits for tracking.
- It was built by regulators and has options for trending, rule based alerts, highly secure RFID tags, auditing and inspection functionality.
- METRC provides aggregate data regarding cultivation, production, transportation and sales of marijuana, meaning you can actually use the data to make business decisions.
- It doesn't appear to have any interface with accounting systems (i.e. quickbooks).(2018 - METRC interfaces with several point of sale or inventory tracking systems, this includes Trellis, Distru, Greenbits, and more)
- I confirmed with another Seed to Sale Company that there is functionality between METRC and other inventory tracking systems (i.e. the systems talk).
- It's pricy. Not sure of the total cost, but according to this article, this Colorado company spends about $20K a year on METRC alone. So plan accordingly. ( In California, METRC isn't pricey. It's actually free. The costs that will add up are actually related to inventory tracking, training, other supporting softwares, and the boatloads of consultants that will try to help you manage your inventory)
So what are the other OLCC and BCC rules regarding seed to sale tracking? This is according to the draft rules, some of the bigger points:
- Use METRC as the primary inventory and record keeping system. In California, you are required to perform METRC reconciliations every 14 days and upload all data into the system every day. This is the way that the state can track that there is no anti-diversion and that your cannabis business is compliant.
- A licensee must have at least one license holder that is a METRC Administrator. In California, this is the same.
- Licensee must complete all required METRC training. In California, this is the same. However, only when you receive your permanent licence can you actually be trained by the METRC team. This is unfortunate, as we are currently in the 10th month of legalization, and many operators have not yet received their annual license and have not been trained on METRC.
- A licensee must unique identifier (UID) tags for METRC. The OLLC has a pre-approved vendor to purchase these tags from. In California, the UID System is still used. I advise you spend some time working on understanding the UID flow.
- Nothing in the rules permit licensees from using a secondary separate software application to collect inventory tracking or point of sales. In California, this is the same, in fact I suggest using a third party provider to manage your inventory. Inventory is one of the most important things in your cannabis business (as it's the only way to make money!)
Here are some very helpful tools that you can use to understand METRC and inventory better:
Working in the cannabis industry requires every operator to be diligent with their numbers. Bill Gates's said, "Knowing your numbers is a fundamental precept of business." In the cannabis industry, this should be your number one priority.