As the operations manager at a dispensary, you know compliance is critical if you want to stay in business. As the legal cannabis industry grows and evolves, regulation has become more challenging. It can be confusing and difficult to stay on top of it all so you can get and maintain your license. If your business doesn’t have a compliance plan, it’s time to make one.
Software developers have risen to the challenge of making compliance easier by creating seed-to-sale systems that will help you stay compliant and allow you to prove it to your state’s regulators. These systems will allow you to monitor every step of the process from when the product is grown to when it is sold, allowing you to demonstrate that the marijuana products you’re selling are going only to those who are legally allowed to possess them.
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Compliance Requirements in the Cannabis Industry
Cannabis has become a worldwide industry, but it's not currently subject to one standardized set of rules and regulations. What being compliant entails changes from state to state and even between districts. In the future, it’s likely the federal government will remove cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. If this happens, regulations will become even more intense and subject to scrutiny. It’s possible the FDA could even become involved.
Imagine having to change the way you report, your packaging, and the myriad other tedious details involved in staying compliant every time the game changes. Chances are you’ve experienced this situation yourself, and maybe even more than once. There is a solution that will allow you to stay on top of it all without the frustrating, time-consuming work.
No matter what changes this ever-evolving industry throws your way, seed-to-sale software has got you covered. The best software solutions are being provided by those who've solved problems in similar markets, such as retail operations and supply chain management. Seed-to-sale software can help your dispensary make a seamless transition into compliance with new regulatory regimes as they arise.
What Is Seed-to-Sale Tracking?
Seed-to-sale tracking has been nothing short of revolutionary for cannabis dispensary operators and stakeholders. These systems provide a single database that tracks the lifetime of the products from the time the seeds are planted and cultivated through the sale. Every step of the process is tracked, from processing to transportation. No matter what information state regulators ask for, you’ll be able to pull it up quickly.
Other features this software typically offers include inventory management, barcodes that allow you to track products, and point-of-sale capabilities.
On top of facilitating quick and easy integration with state and federal compliance laws, in the future we can look forward to this technology providing information to the consumers who use cannabis products. The software will allow them to compare strains and to see where the products they’re using came from.
There are many moving parts between the cultivation and sale of cannabis products. These are the stages cannabis goes through to make it to your dispensary and, eventually, to your customers.
Immature plants are typically tracked in “plant groups.” They can either be cuttings taken from a mother plant or germinated from seed. These plant groups are then promoted once plants have reached a height of 8” tall or 8” around. Each state with a legal market has their own regulations as to how long a plant can be considered immature.
Once a plant has grown to the height/size of local state regulations, it is then promoted to vegetative phase and it is given a unique tracking number and plant tag. This is typically referred to as “serialization.” In states that use METRC as their seed-to-sale compliance system, these tracking labels include an RFID chip. This RFID label can be read without having to clean and locate the barcode tag, making it much easier to track plants throughout the cultivation process.
The flowering phase of cultivation is triggered when plants receive twelve hours of sun and twelve hours of dark. This is triggered automatically for outdoor cultivations, but indoor and greenhouse cultivations have the ability to use light and light deprivation to control when plants are put into flowering.
Plants are typically harvested and the individual “wet weight” of the plant is tracked and submitted to a state’s compliance office. Plants are then put into “harvest batches” and grouped by individual strain for drying and testing.
Before products reach the public, they must first be put through a testing process that checks for harmful chemicals and potency. The seed-to-sale system will include this information on the product labels it generates.
The seed-to-sale system excels in helping to report sales to Metrc while keeping customers from purchasing more product than what is allowed.
Real-Time Data Reporting
Thanks to this software, you’ll be able to provide regulatory agencies with the real-time data they require from operators to maintain compliance. This is the easiest way to prove to them that you’re compliant so your license will never be put at risk.
Why Is Seed-to-Sale Necessary?
Compliance isn’t the only reason you need seed-to-sale software. These programs are a must-have for any dispensary operator because they will help you run your business more efficiently by aiding with the following processes.
Dispensaries sell a myriad of products, including flowers, capsules, edibles, and much more. Seed-to-sale software allows you to store your inventory in any number of rooms while maintaining real-time counts for your entire operation.
Seed-to-sale systems aren’t just for dispensary operators. Growers can also use this software to keep track of the cost of the materials they use to produce their harvests. This will take the guesswork out of determining which strains are worth your time and investment and which are not. It’ll also help you identify areas where you can improve your processes to cut costs.
Another important use of this software is for inventory control. If a product fails inspection due to mold, pesticides, or other contaminants, you’ll be able to locate it and pull it from your inventory. You’ll also be able to show state regulators where you lost products due to factors such as moisture loss and destruction.
Why Seed-to-Sale Is Helpful to Your Business
On top of being a necessity for compliance, seed-to-sale is incredibly helpful in many other day-to-day aspects of running a dispensary.
The days of the stereotypical “stoner” are over. Today’s legal cannabis industry has resulted in a diverse group of marijuana users with a variety of needs, from retail to medical. Seed-to-sale is a must-have if you want to optimize your inventory to stay profitable in the face of rapidly changing trends.
Theft and Human Error
Seed-to-sale technologies track your inventory and allow you to quickly identify and respond to employee theft and losses. With this system in place, you won’t have to worry about products being priced incorrectly or other potentially costly losses that may result from human error. Some systems use biometric technology to restrict access to certain staff members.
These systems can also help you protect your customers’ privacy by generating a unique ID number, and-enterprise level systems employ government-level encryption to protect sensitive customer information. You can use the data you collect to track your customers’ preferences, purchase history, and more, creating an optimal experience that will transform first-time clients into regulars.
Having this technology in place will make training your staff a breeze as well. It will give your employees a consistent process that is simple to follow because this software is designed with ease of use in mind. It will streamline processes and make sure everyone on your staff is on the same page and following the same procedures.
Seed-to-sale systems provide for better record keeping, and you’ll appreciate this when tax time comes around. You’ll never have an easier time providing your records to the IRS than you will with this software in place.
Discounts and Rewards
Seed-to-sale technology will allow you to easily create discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs that will bring in new business and make your existing customers feel valued. Customers who have racked-up those loyalty points are going to come back to benefit from the discounts they’ve earned.
As a cannabis retailer, seed-to-sale software has the power to transform your business. The integrated hardware will allow your dispensary employees to take the customer through the entire process with a single, easy-to-execute action. From having the data regulators want instantly available to being able to find information about the strains your customers need, there is simply no downside to taking advantage of this emerging technology.
Once you’ve switched to using this cannabis retail POS and tracking software, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. No matter how big your operation, or how many stores you have, you’ll be able to track real-time information that will ensure you remain compliant.
The cannabis industry is moving in a global direction, and with the growing legitimacy of the industry will come increasingly stringent and complex regulations. As seed-to-sale tracking technology improves in the future, expect to see updates that will allow your cannabis operations to easily grow with the upcoming changes.
Jeremy O'Keefe is the CEO of Yobi, an industry leader in the cannabis tech marketplace. Jeremy's extensive experience in designing and developing retail and operational software for partners such as Amazon and Zappos are what drove him to build a best-in-class platform to serve the burgeoning cannabis market. Prior to starting Yobi, Jeremy worked as a Project Manager/Software Engineer for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the US and served in the Air Force as an Electronic Warfare Technician for 8 years.