Cannabis has been made medically available to some degree in 29 states plus the District of Columbia. In eight states, cannabis has been legalized for recreational use as well. The implications of this massive shift in cannabis legislation are enormous. Patients have been given access to an alternative (and often superior) medical intervention than synthetic medication. Cannabis-related arrests and convictions have declined in places that have legalized recreational weed. The economies in these forward-thinking states have seen an economic boon producing explosive revenues and tax income.
Despite these milestones, the industry continues to face unique obstacles because of its federal Schedule I designation and the stigma with which that identity has branded the plant and its derivatives. Schedule I substances are considered federally illegal, so even though support for cannabis legalization has reached an all-time high, governments and ancillary businesses such as banks and insurers are reticent to involve themselves in the not quite legal, “gray” market.
That hesitation is slowly giving way because of regulations that mandate transparency and accountability in all levels of the industry. One of those regulations is the requirement embraced by most legal states that cannabis businesses partake in the seed-to-sale tracking provided by traceability software.
How Does Seed-to-Sale Tracking Work?
Traceability software empowers the government, businesses, and consumers to monitor the legitimacy of the cannabis products regulated in their states. There are many traceability brands out there, but they all provide some or all of the following services.
These markers set up the foundation of a tracking system. Each cannabis plant is given an original marker, and the products derived from that plant are given markers as well. Throughout the cultivation and distribution process, these codes can be scanned so that the state and customer can easily identify where the product is coming from and where it has been along the way.
The tracking feature provided by identifying markers allows regulating forces to audit a business for compliance throughout the product’s journey. Authorities can access information dating back to the product’s inception as long as the seed from which the cannabis product came was marked.
Proof of lab testing
Some traceability software will not enable a product to move forward unless it has been lab tested. This kind of testing can identify pesticides used on the plant, microbial life, mold, terpene profiles, cannabinoid levels, as well as other strain analytics.
This feature helps business owners and store managers keep track of their product once it arrives.
These systems facilitate the check-out process once the customer purchases the product, providing the business with data on the customer that can help ensure regulatory compliance as well as streamline the process for the customer.
Features such as fingerprint identification and personnel management make it much more difficult for unauthorized personnel to access the product throughout the process.
The Benefits of Traceability Software
Even if it isn’t required, traceability software has made the industry a much safer place. Seed-to-sale tracking protects the legal market from black market intrusion. This both mitigates the image of criminality surrounding cannabis as well as protects consumers from black market pot. This product often isn’t lab tested, is subjected to dangerous pesticides, and has been found to contain frightening amounts of mold. This is especially important for medical patients who may already have compromised immune systems.
When costumers know where their pot is coming from, it boosts their confidence in the industry as a whole. The kind of transparency guaranteed by the industry’s acceptance of traceability software as a norm will force businesses to hold themselves to the highest standards. That kind of quality control is bound to encourage those who still make up the 36 percent of Americans who don’t currently support cannabis to reconsider their position, which is more than likely based on stereotypes that, after almost a century of rigorous employment, need to retire.
Traceability software is subject to the dangers of the cyber world. Cyber security has been an area of major concern for traceability companies and their clients, an ironic risk given the emphasis these brands place on security.
MJ Freeway was one of the first seed-to-sale tracking companies to enter the cannabis industry, but it has faced severe consequences after enduring multiple security breaches. Nevada was contracted to work with the company’s Leaf Data system to track cannabis sales, but backed out of the partnership after MJ Freeway was hacked and its source code was stolen and posted on Reddit.
In Washington state, a different security issue has caused the industry a huge headache. The state switched providers—it had been working with BioTrackTHC for the past four years but gave a new contract to MJ Freeway. The state wanted to extend its contract with BioTrackTHC during the transition, but the company declined explaining that it had been subjected to security breaches after MJ Freeway was given access to BioTrack’s data.
Canadian cannabis company Liberty Leaf Holdings has partnered with Blox Labs Inc to create a seed-to-sale platform using blockchain technology. This type of technology is much safer than the databases currently used by those seeking to store their data. Blockchain technology removes the need for intermediary parties to hold on to data since it allows users to store specially encrypted data in blocks connected through the internet. Even if a hacker was able to access the data stored through this type of platform, the encryption would make it impossible for that hacker to use it.
Regardless of how the tech industry chooses to address the security threats created by the wild, wild west of the cyber world, it is unlikely that the cannabis industry will move backward in terms of traceability and transparency. Traceability software puts every aspect of an industry once shrouded in darkness directly in the light. And as cannabis cultivation has shown us, light is what makes things grow.