May 20, 2022
Operations & Compliance

Cannabis Compliance Guide: Understanding Seed-to-Sale Tracking

March 22, 2023
May 20, 2022

Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations.

As a cannabis dispensary operator, 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.

In this article, we'll help aspiring and new dispensary owners understand the ins-and-outs of cannabis compliance, touching on:

  • What is seed-to-sale tracking?
  • Why is compliance so important for dispensaries?
  • What is Metrc and BioTrack?
  • Seed-to-sale tracking in Metrc and BioTrack

What is seed-to-sale tracking?

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 may introduce a seed-to-sale tracking system. A state-mandated seed-to-sale tracking system means growers and retailers must chart a plant’s entire lifecycle, from the moment it’s planted until the final product is packaged 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.

But, your journey doesn’t end with traceability credentials. Besides keeping track of your cannabis inventory on the state tracking system, you will also be required to submit sale records to the system, often on a real-time basis. This process can be slow and inefficient, but the right software solution will save you time and headaches.

For example, Dutchie POS 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 dispensaries who produce their own supply, our Dutchie POS also accounts for full seed-to-sale cultivation tracking.

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

Why is compliance important for cannabis dispensaries?

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 stay compliant, recreational stores are expected to keep track of their cannabis inventory on these systems.

An introduction to Metrc and BioTrack

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.

Seed-to-sale tracking in Metrc

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 an approved integrator with Metrc, and our legal team checks in with them often to stay on top of system and regulations changes in each of these states.

Seed-to-sale tracking in BioTrack

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 POS automatically records this compliance information and reports it to your state’s traceability system.

Dutchie also integrates with BioTrack and is prepared to help retailers operate smoothly in all BioTrack states.

The bottom line

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.

About Dutchie

To safeguard your business, consider implementing compliant tools like Dutchie POS or our Ecommerce for online sales. With automatic reporting, seed-to-sale tracking becomes much simpler. 

Ready to grow together? Book a demo today.

About the author
The Dutchie Squad