Is Metrc coming to your cannabis market?
Are you ready?
With more states adopting the Metrc cannabis track-and-trace system every year, business operators and entrepreneurs have a lot of questions about the platform. We understand, and we want to make it easy for operators to get started, and find success, within the platform. In this article we offer our three steps to Metrc success.
At Cultivera, we are driven by the notion that it is our responsibility to provide confidence to the industry as a whole. We know the importance of providing more than just business software, but a complete solution that encompasses subject-matter expertise and unparalleled support.
Before we start, if you’re new to the Metrc traceability system you’ll want to brush up on what to expect.
Metrc is a compliance system that provides regulators with real-time visibility into the cannabis supply chain. The letters in M.E.T.R.C. stand for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance. The system is built to help state regulatory offices manage legal cannabis traceability information and reporting throughout the supply chain.
For many legal cannabis Producers, Processors, and Distributors in existing Metrc states, compliance can take hours of extra work every week. Working with incredible enterprises over the years, we’ve learned a lot about this widely-used traceability system, and are here to help you on your way to Metrc success.
3 Steps To Metrc Success
Here at Cultivera we have a three-part framework for getting your operation ready for Metrc traceability compliance. Each of these three steps to Metrc success helps licensed cannabis operators looking to stay compliant without sacrificing hours of extra time and labor.
1) Take Compliance Seriously
Focus and invest in process improvement and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Traceability is a multi-party, multi-chain challenge, and the introduction of a new model may require changes to process workflows that satisfy both internal and external traceability requirements and needs.
Certain regulations, expectations, and areas of compliance may become easier and more transparent, while others might seem more complex. For example, Metrc will only allow you to transfer to other legally licensed facilities – effectively enforcing licensing for transfers in real time and helping prevent fraudulent/illegal vendors.
Operators that aren’t already using some form of traceability system should expect to be spending more time on compliance in general, including regular data entry and reporting.
But changes to business process workflows can be expensive and time consuming if they are not anticipated to minimize shock to operations. For example, switching from in-line labeling to RFID may necessitate staff retraining and operational redesign.
In the end, Metrc is a reporting system used by licensed cannabis businesses to manage and report supply chain activities as required by state rules. This means cannabis businesses must commit resources to maintain accurate compliance data to avoid hefty fines and potentially the loss of their licenses.
To avoid operation disruptions, businesses need to preemptively look into how their operations can satisfy both internal and external traceability needs with minimal retraining of their staff and minimal changes to their workflows.
2) Have a Team You Trust
Ensure whoever is leading these areas of your business is someone that you trust and expect to stick around. Having an owner or high-level operator in this role, someone with a strong understanding of how your company operates within traceability, is ideal.
Changes associated with Metrc can seem like a hassle at first. Individual plant tagging and labeling requirements, for example, are an unfortunate increased burden and cost. And Metrc-issued data-carriers, or “RFID tags,” can be a shift from existing barcode symbology many operators may be used to.
But these required tags are used to encode identification keys that uniquely identify plants, products, lots/batches, packages, or logistic units. This means businesses need someone with a strong understanding of how their company operates within traceability, who clearly understands their compliance needs.
Turnover in this role, especially early on in your SOP development and adoption, is extremely costly. It also increases your risk of both shipment delays and potential compliance violations. This means building a knowledgeable, reliable team will be a critical part of operations success.
3) Have a Strong Tech Partner
To navigate the complexities of local compliance, you’ll want to partner with a strong technology provider. Your software partners should have had experience navigating these quickly-changing regulatory landscapes, and offer support dealing with potential systems issues.
Certain systems issues, when they occur directly on/with the system the regulatory body has selected, are unfortunately outside of the control of licensees. Depending on the depth and length of most issues, some regulatory bodies have offered guidance and/or temporary work-arounds that operators can implement.
Unfortunately, these often include significant, and unexpected, temporary changes to SOPs. Partnering with a strong technology provider that has experience navigating these quickly changing regulatory landscapes can help operators hedge against these potential systems issues.
For example, Cultivera offers our Pre-Metrc Environment (PME) where operators are able to learn and simulate Metrc workflows and integrate these workflows with their SOPs ahead of time.
This way businesses can stay ahead of the curve once Metrc is required for day-to-day operations.
Cultivera offered this PME in California in 2018 & ‘19, and successfully transitioned many operators onto Metrc. This environment allows us to introduce Cultivera users to Metrc workflows well in advance of implementation in the state.
This Pre-Metrc system will convert to their actual Metrc-enabled environment once Metrc goes live, which will allow our clients to acclimate themselves to impending changes, saving them money on process changes and training.
Above all, these strong technology features allow for seamless transitions to Metrc and streamlined compliance, with no disruption to operations.
This is Part Three of our Introduction to Metrc series, exploring the most important details cannabis operators need to know about the Metrc track-and-trace system. Part One answers the questions What is Metrc & Why Does it Matter? Part Two explores the limitations of the platform, and how Cultivera integrations make staying Metrc-compliant simple. You can also learn more in our Metrc F.A.Q..
Need more than just an introduction? For a more detailed look at the Metrc traceability system, compliance, and integrations, sign up for Cultivera’s free Introductory Guide to Metrc.
In this free downloadable guide, you’ll learn what the Metrc software system is, why it matters to business operations across the country, and what it might mean to your cannabis enterprise.