What is Metrc? | A Complete Guide for Dispensary Owners

August 4, 2021

If you are a cannabis retail store owner in one of the 20 states that Metrc is active, understanding what is Metrc is crutial to keep your operation compliant.
In this article we will uncover everything you need to know to comply with the Metrc regulations; we well Metrc's history, and why you should care.  Let's dig in.

What is Metrc? 

Metrc, also known as the "Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance" is the tracking system responsible for regulating the cultivation, preparation, and packaging of cannabis in 20 states.
In other words, it's a database tracking marijuana from seed to sale using RFID tags. 
Some states and regions have been hesitant to legalize marijuana, largely because of doubts about side-effects. Such doubts are slowly but surely being dispelled as a result of new techniques  becoming available for monitoring its use—to such an extent that the plant looks set to soon become an accepted household drug. 

What does Metrc stand for?

Metrc stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance.  It is a cloud-based database that integrates with leading dispensary POS solutions, and also acts as a stand alone track-and-trace option.

When was Metrc introduced?

Metrc was many decades in the making as the technology was refined again and again. However, the first large-scale implementation was in 2010, when the contract was signed by the  Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

As time went on, the solution was rolled out into different states, and different goverment bodies decided to make it required.

Some notable accounts include June 30th, 2021, when Metrc was introduced to help make the tracking of marijuana more portable and dynamic in Oklahoma City. Metrc's main goal is to figure out where cannabis plants and goods are going in each state's cannabis business.

What is Metrc? Image of cannabis

How do you use Metrc?

To use Metrc, users connect via a web-based platform.  Once logged in, users can report information and confirm their data. Metrc's ecosystem consists of a web portal, browser-based online services, mobile applications, and can also be integrated with third-party solutions like POS systems via APIs.

Is Metrc an ERP? 

No, Metrc is not an ERP. A Cannabis ERP is a software solution that provides end-to-end usability managing sales and tracking inventory. Metrc is a track and trace system used for tracking recreational and medical use of cannabis products.

Why do governments want business to use Metrc? 

Regulatory agencies in many states compel cannabis sector firms to submit data to the Metrc system to meet legal seed-to-sale tracking duties. State cannabis regulators benefit from Metrc because it creates a significant barrier to cannabis diversion to the black market and out-of-state sales. Metrc aims to ensure that marijuana grown legally isn't sold to minors or moved over state lines.

What states are currently using metrc for tracking?

Currently, 20 American states are mandated to use Metrc for track and tracing. Those states include:

  • Metrc Alaska
  • Metrc California
  • Metrc Colorado
  • Metrc Washington, D.C. 
  • Metrc Louisiana
  • Metrc Maine
  • Metrc Maryland
  • Metrc Massachusetts
  • Metrc Michigan
  • Metrc Missouri
  • Metrc Montana
  • Metrc Nevada
  • Metrc New Jersey
  • Metrc Ohio
  • Metrc Oklahoma
  • Metrc Oregon
  • Metrc Wes Virginia

With more states legalizing marijuana, it's more crucial than ever to normalize Metrc in the sector.

Three of Metrc's current customer states—Ohio, Oregon, and Montana—have extended their contracts with the track-and-trace corporation through to 2022. Due to the development of services, Metrc's contract renewal percentage of 100 percent is unique among US track-and-trace technology suppliers.

Will Metrc expand to other states?

Yes, the Metrc network is likely to grow even more as legalization spreads. More States will use Metrc, especially  if its use in other states is seen as effective and efficient. Seed-to-sale tracking is widely accepted among cannabis firms as necessary for ensuring legal products and allowing for faster consumer recalls if a product has health or safety issues.

How do I connect my POS to Metrc?

Many cannabis POS solutions currently offer a Metrc integration, connecting with the Metrc API automatically. This means that all you have to do, is sign up for an account, and use a POS solution that offers the integrated solution. Using an integrated and reliable POS system, you will not only save time and money reporting sales and inventory but will also significantly reduce the risk of regulatory issues.

Don't have a POS that connects automatically, it could be tricky to set up an automated solution yourself.  The Metrc API differs in a few crucial ways that cannabis operators should be aware of to enhance system efficiency and state reporting compliance. Although the API connection for retailers allows for greater bidirectional communication, cannabis growers, processors, and distributors will discover that their API connectivity with the state tracking system is limited when managing outward and inbound manifest data.

What if my POS is not compliant with Metrc?

If your POS doesn't automatically connect to the API, you will have to manually track and input the data. Although this will take some time, the data must be recorded into the state Metrc system if your state has mandated it as a track-and-trace solution.

In the cannabis industry, inaccuracies of failure to do so will almost certainly result in inadvertent breaches and hefty fines. Cannabis sellers can't afford to settle for a subpar POS system when so much is at stake. Instead, you should look for point-of-sale systems that are exact and efficient.

Many POS providers will claim to be METRC-compliant. Several organizations have launched extensive integrations, but few have been successful in the cultivation and processing stages. If you're looking for third-party software solutions, it's a good idea to request a referral in your state.

What is metrc | photo of a POS

How do I sign up for Metrc?

Signing up for Metrc is easy, when signing up, we recommend you consider using a POS solution that is Metrc compliant.  Learn about how to set up a metrc compliant POS solution here.

This solution will have an API connecting to Metrc so you can streamline your operations. Steps to sign up include: 

  • Sign up and complete the Metrc account manager training, as well as the test.
  • Add your vendor API (Application Programming Interface) key for the sandbox, which will be generated once the test is completed.
  • Send your marijuana POS supplier your API key and your Metrc license number.
  • Contact Metrc for a personal identification tag for any inventory that has not yet been identified by the grower or processor (UID).
  • Tag your inventory using UID tags. Note: Unique identifiers (UIDs) are not reusable.
  • Log in to Metrc to double-check tag assignments and set up all of your products.
  • Lastly, to access your newly tagged inventory, go to your dispensary's POS system.

You can use Metrc's cloud-based software with a computer and an internet connection. It integrates with a third-party marijuana point-of-sale system. Also, your POS company must accomplish this, and not all companies are currently compliant.

What is a RFID tag?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the non-contact electromagnetic transmission of data using radiofrequency waves. The Automatic Identification and Data Capture technology group includes RFID (AIDC). AIDC methods recognize items, collect data, and enter that data directly into Metrc systems with little or no human interaction.

Also, users may automatically and uniquely identify and track inventories and assets by tagging them with RFID tags. In the same way that data from a tag or label is taken by a device and stored in a database, RFID is analogous to barcoding.

Again, RFID tags are used by METRC to allow regulators to scan a specific plant or commodity and determine its provenance. RFID tag requirements may differ depending on your state. Metrc tracks marijuana inventory by attaching serial tags to every plant and labels the wholesale packaging with bar-code, human-readable, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Plants and packages are the two forms of tagged inventory in CCTT–METRC. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponders are embedded in each unique identifier (UID) tag. This enables automatic remote scanning and, as a result, identification of the tagged cannabis and cannabis goods.

RFID tags will be required in most jurisdictions for each factory as well as each packaged product. METRC states impose tags on a cannabis business's entire inventory, which costs between 25 and 45 cents.

What else do I need to know about Metrc?

If you own a marijuana store, you must integrate operations with METRC from June 30, 2021. It's the only way to keep a cannabis supply chain compliant, and there's no getting around it. Other things you should know about Metrc include:

  • The METRC platform and continuous training, support, and maintenance will cost $40 per month. While dispensaries can use any software vendor that interfaces with METRC, METRC requires a monthly fee of $40. 
  • Subsequently, METRC's free online training is for all dispensary owners, staff, and supervisors. These seminars are held daily, and any marijuana licensed firm can sign up for training at their leisure at no additional cost.
  • Cannabis dispensaries must use physical RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags to uniquely identify products. And all information relating to those products must be put into the METRC system throughout the purchase to sale cycle.
  • You won't be able to make your own labels. Customers can order RFID tags in batches or bulk using METRC's online software solution. Once the printing process has begun, METRC tags are custom-printed for each dispensary and are not returnable or refundable.
  • Again, the METRC-integrated POS system allows you to concentrate on your dispensary operations rather than on compliance issues.
  • If you have an internet break that prevents you from providing the daily report to OMMA, you must record all information and store it in METRC within three days of recovering connectivity.
  • Lastly, the METRC compliance system, which will replace the OMMA's monthly reporting requirement for medical marijuana shops, is already in use in Oklahoma.

What are the benefits of the Metrc system.

The fundamental advantage of Metrc is consumer protection. If a product has a negative side effect, such as making someone sick, the problem can be traced back to the plant group. Shelf items that are linked to a certain plant or package tag can be retrieved.

Metrc's track and trace software helps you account for every gram of useful cannabis from seed-to-sale. Dispensary owners keep track of every transaction and provide full information on how much was purchased and by whom, thanks to Metrc.

Additionally, when implementing Metrc's seed-to-sale software, compliance will include tracking, reporting, and auditing cannabis.

In a world where things are constantly changing, Metrc is the factor that helps dispensary owners, growers, and cannabis users all stay compliant and safe. 

Want to learn other critical software tools you need to run a cannabis dispensary? Download our free guide now!

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