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Cannabis Dispensaries & Growers: Staying Compliant & Growing Your Business with METRC

If you’re in the process of getting your cannabis business off the ground, no doubt you know the importance of putting together a business plan — but do you know about METRC? METRC has become an integral part of the cannabis industry in many states. Are you in one of the states that employs METRC? If so, you must use it to comply with state regulations. Although the prospect of having to use a particular system might not seem inviting, it’s an opportunity to grow your business.

What Is METRC?

Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance (METRC) is “seed to sale software” that tracks cannabis as it moves through the supply chain. The software was first developed by the supply chain technology company Franwell for Colorado in 2011, after which California awarded METRC a $59 million contract in 2017.

In addition to California and Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Michigan, Washington D.C., Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio all use METRC to report marijuana supply chain activities to state regulators. Licensed cannabis businesses in these states must use METRC to remain compliant.

How Does METRC Work?

The software uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to provide regulators with real-time surveillance capability. Licensed growers, infusion businesses, and retailers purchase the tags and pay an annual fee to use the system. From the outset, a grower tags an immature plant, which tells regulators which entity is growing the product and provides information about the product itself. Once the plant is ready to be harvested, the grower packages it, attaches a package tag, and sends it on its way to a dispensary. A dispensary will also apply a unique RFID tag if it needs to repackage the inventory or send it to an infusion business.

When it comes to cannabis sourcing and shipping logistics, dispensaries must source their product from in-state growers. METRC ensures compliance with the in-state requirement. Regulators are able to watch the process as plants make their way from growers to dispensaries; they can also watch as growers send cannabis to manufacturers that create cannabis products, such as edibles. Regulators are able to ensure all parties in the cannabis supply chain are compliant with state regulations, including tax laws; growers, manufacturers, and sellers are able to view their own data as the RFID tags transmit information to the software.

RFID Tags

RFID is a relatively new technology that allows businesses and public entities (such as the U.S. Army) to track assets and manage inventory. Basically, a tag receives radio waves transmitted by a reader. The radio wave energy activates a chip in the tag, which sends data back to the reader via radiofrequency. The reader and the tag do not have to be in the same room.

According to METRC, RFID tags allow the software to read identification data from up to 15 feet away 90 percent faster than barcodes. Since you don’t have to pick up a plant to read the data, there’s less of a chance of damaging the plant. METRC stores product data in a secure database on the Web.

How Does METRC Affect My Business?

Although METRC’s method consumes less time than barcode tracking would, the RFID tags cost $0.25 apiece plus shipping, and METRC charges $250 annually to use the system. What’s more, tagging plants and packages takes time, which increases payroll costs for growers. Dispensaries that repackage bulk inventory and send some products to infusion facilities see an increase in payroll costs alongside the annual cost of using METRC.

You also have to deal with the cost of accounting. If you’re using a program that doesn’t integrate with METRC — such as Excel — it wastes valuable time on double data entry. Your business needs inventory management software that integrates with METRC and an accounting software solution like QuickBooks. The inventory management software acts as an intelligent middleman so you don’t have to manually bridge the gap between METRC and accounting software.

How Can I Grow My Business?

As you’re staying compliant with METRC, inventory management software simultaneously allows you to do the following:

Improve Business Intelligence

For 2018, the legal cannabis industry brought in up to $10 billion in revenue, and that number could exceed $15 billion by 2020. This is a booming industry with a ton of competition from huge growers and well-established dispensaries. You can’t afford to take a passive approach and only spend money on METRC while other businesses are actively using inventory data to improve efficiency.

With inventory management software, you can generate detailed reports and take a data-driven approach to maximize profits. As METRC keeps tabs on your compliance, you keep tabs on product performance. Performance data helps you make intelligent choices when it comes to ordering, production, distribution, and even marketing.

Open Multiple Locations

Cannabis inventory management software enables you to take your operation to the next level by making it easy to open multiple locations. You’ll be able to transfer plants from facility to facility, maintain records on products in all facilities, and make batch updates to METRC.

Maintain Airtight Accounting Records

As you record your inventory information with METRC, save time by integrating with accounting software, and keep records airtight for complete compliance in case of an audit. Inventory management software ensures that the entire process is automated, from seed to sale to accounting. You’ll have detailed records available along the way. Every sale will be accounted for, no plants will slip between the cracks, and you’ll be able to sleep soundly knowing your business is up to snuff.

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