Dispensary tips

Cannabis compliance 101: understanding seed-to-sale tracking

By
Dutchie
May 20, 2022

Seed-to-sale tracking (also called track-and-trace) refers to the process of following a cannabis plant from germination, to harvest, to the final product sold to a customer. 

When a state approves recreational cannabis, regulators will follow suit and introduce a seed-to-sale tracking system. This means growers and retailers assume full responsibility for charting a plant’s entire lifecycle, from the moment it’s planted until the final product is packaged and sold.

As a retailer, tracking and managing your inventory is arguably the most important piece of the compliance puzzle—but the process is a lot more complicated than meets the eye. After all, a cannabis plant is not sold on its own; a single plant is often broken up and used in separate products, and different plants can be combined to produce edibles. Complexities aside, seed-to-sale tracking means you’re under strict obligation to report exactly how much of each plant you’ve bought and sold.

Once you’re approved for a recreational license, you’ll be given traceability credentials to purchase the tags you’ll need to track each regulated product.

However, your journey doesn’t end with traceability credentials. Besides recording seed-to-sale data for every product you buy and sell, you’ll also be required to submit these records to your state’s reporting system on a daily basis. This process can be slow and inefficient, but the right software solution will save you time and headaches.

For example, Dutchie’s POS system automates this process for you by integrating with government seed-to-sale systems. This is done through a software interface known as an API (Application Programming Interface), which has been proven to save hours of manual and error-prone reporting. For vertically-integrated retailers who produce their own supply, our POS also accounts for full seed-to-sale cultivation tracking.

A diagram of what a seed-to-sale system tracks.

The role of compliance in retail operations

Because the mainstream cannabis industry is relatively new, states are cautious in their approach to legislation. Growing, processing, and selling cannabis is highly regulated, and only a few other industries deal with similar restrictions—which is why compliance plays an essential part in keeping your recreational license valid.

As we previously discussed, seed-to-sale tracking is a big part of adhering to your state’s compliance regulations. Tracking seed-to-sale allows public officials to:

  • Ensure growers are following planting limits
  • Collect data about how much cannabis is being bought and sold, so this data can then be studied
  • Make a credible case to the federal government that the state is not allowing the legalized market to touch the unregulated market
  • Recall cannabis plants and products deemed unsafe or harmful

While it’s essential for states to monitor how recreational cannabis is bought and sold, the compliance process doesn’t only benefit regulators—it acts as a safeguard that protects your operation from theft, lawsuits, security incidents, and more.

Even so, it remains a sore spot for retailers. In order to be (and stay) compliant, they’ll need systems that track the cannabis products constantly moving in and out of their store.

Seed-to-sale tracking systems

Most states manage compliance regulations through government-contracted software systems, such as METRC or BioTrack. In order to stay compliant, recreational stores are expected to submit information on the products they’ve sold into these systems. Canada doesn't require a seed-to-sale tracking system. Instead, retailers report their monthly sales manually and send the findings to their provincial regulators.

The two largest seed-to-sale systems, endorsed by states throughout the US are METRC and BioTrack.

METRC is unique in the sense that it only offers government-facing tracking programs, as opposed to solutions for retailers. METRC is used by Alaska, California, Colorado, DC, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and West Virginia.

Dutchie is a top-level integrator with METRC, and our legal team checks in with them often to stay on top of regulations changes in each of these states.

BioTrack supports private and government sectors that serve medical and recreational states like Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Virginia, New Mexico, and more.

Dutchie also integrates with BioTrack and is prepared to help guide retailers in all BioTrack states on their transition from medical to recreational.

Entering information into these systems on a daily basis can be monotonous and time-consuming. That’s why most recreational retailers choose a point of sale (POS) software built specifically for cannabis retailers. Dutchie offers cannabis- centric POS solutions that automatically record this compliance information and report it to the state’s traceability system.

Why you need to be as compliant as possible

In every state that’s allowed recreational sales, these rules—and the consequences for breaking them—can be exceedingly strict. If your store is not compliant, you may face fines, fees, and the potential to lose your business. Don’t put your business in danger.

Our clients have reported surprise drop-ins from government inspectors. They make sure cannabis retailers’ security cameras are up and running, and all disclaimers are easy to read. They’ll also check customers’ IDs to confirm they’re legitimate and unexpired. If retailers aren’t compliant, they can get written up, reprimanded with points, or even shut down. Compliance is the key to keeping dispensaries running smoothly. To safeguard your business, consider implementing compliant tools like Dutchie’s POS solutions or our Ecommerce for online sales. With automatic reporting, seed-to-sale tracking becomes much simpler. 

Ready to keep discovering more about staying compliant as a recreational retailer? Download the full guide.

Ready to grow together? Book a demo today.

About the author
Dutchie
The Dutchie Squad