The clock is ticking for Oklahoma’s over 10,000 cannabis businesses to comply with a tight deadline of fully adapting to the regulatory software of Florida-based Metrc for tracking and tracing every medical marijuana plant and packaged product in the state.
State regulators from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and Metrc company officials explained the requirements cannabis companies must meet at a Feb. 24 media roundtable held online. Oklahoma cannabis businesses have between now and April 30 to become fully compliant with Metrc’s seed-to-sale tracking software and radio-frequency tracking tags. That means having all inventory and transactions tracked by Metrc’s system by then, whether your cannabis business has an inventory of 50 plants and product packages or 50,000.
Earlier this month, I requested a copy of the state’s contract with Metrc through Oklahoma open-government laws. Click here to read it in DocumentCloud. (The buzzy, new Substack platform I’m using for this site doesn’t support document embeds just yet.) I honestly haven’t had time to read through the whole contract. But it seemed like something y’all deserved to have as you’re integrating Metrc’s system.
Metrc COO Lewis Koski, a former top cannabis regulator in Colorado, insisted at the Feb. 24 media event that the deadline of a little over eight weeks was consistent with what the company had seen in other states. He said it was enough time for Oklahoma cannabis businesses to become compliant:
“I think what’s really important to keep in mind is that we’ve really streamlined the process for new licensees entering their beginning inventories into the system. So it’s a little easier for them to get everything in, up and running, and then operationalize it more as time goes on.”
He said available courses for the required online Metrc training are filling up quickly since cannabis licensees first became eligible to sign up Feb. 23. I wrote previously about Metrc’s technology and performance in other states earlier this month.
I’ll explain more in a moment of what I’ve learned so far about cannabis tracking and why you’re being required to pay this new expense in the first place. But first let’s go over the timeline of what you’ll be expected to have completed in roughly eight weeks. The timeline happens fast, so you’ll want to be prepared to make the transition as easy on yourself as possible.
Here’s what we know so far.
Dates to remember and what to have handy
Feb. 23 Signups begin for Metrc’s mandated online training course that will instruct you and your team on how to use the company’s software and tagging system. From Feb. 23, you have just six days until the beginning of the next phase. Go here to register for the training courses. Here’s what you’ll need:
State License Number
First and Last Name
March 1 Metrc begins offering its required online training sessions for learning its cannabis tracking technology. You have 26 days from this point until the next deadline.
At least one person at each cannabis business will need to be trained as a Metrc administrator at least once. The state then strongly urges that all employees who come into contact with Metrc’s software and tags also attend the training course.
The chief administrator can add employees during the training and credentialing phases of onboarding to Metrc. The courses are conducted online, and individuals or small groups can attend at once. The available trainings are listed in Central times below.
March 26 Date by which you and your business will need to have completed Metrc’s online training. You now have about five weeks remaining to become fully compliant with Metrc’s system. If your mandated training is not completed by this date, the state will not credential your business for the purposes of gaining access to the Metrc system and adding your inventory.
April 30 By this date, you’ll need to have completed the process of adding your inventory of cannabis packages and plants to the Metrc system, whether it’s 50 or 50,000.
Metrc COO Koski said at the Feb. 24 event the company’s software was built efficiently from the start by having been modeled after best practices that cannabis businesses were already using in the past for tracking purposes.
Once the process for training and credentialing is completed and you’ve entered all of your inventory into Metrc, you’ll no longer need to file monthly disclosure reports with OMMA. You’ll file a final report for March, and the use of Metrc will satisfy the reporting requirements thereafter.
How do I become Metrc credentialed?
Let’s step back for a moment to just after your business has completed Metrc’s required online training. To move on to the next step of adding your inventory to the system, you’ll need to become formally credentialed with Metrc first. To do this, send an email to email@example.com with the following information that the state emphatically says you must include:
Subject Line: “Requesting OK Credentials”
Body of email:
Your full name
Your cannabis business license number
The legal name of your business
The best phone number for reaching you
An email address where you’ll get the “Welcome to Metrc” message
OMMA promises that this information will be reviewed within two days or by the following Monday if submitted on a Friday. Next you should expect an email containing your login link and a temporary password for setting up your Metrc account. This first-time login key expires in 24 hours and can only be used once. At the login page, use your key and temporary password.
So why do I have to do all of this?
After a bidding process, Oklahoma regulators recruited Metrc in September to use its proprietary technology for tracking every cannabis plant and product reaching retailers and consumers across the state. That means Metrc will soon represent a major, legally mandated cost for the nearly 10,000 Oklahoma cannabis business license holders in 2021 and beyond.
OMMA gave the company six months to meet its own deadline of having the system ready for the industry to begin adopting. Cannabis businesses mostly fund Oklahoma’s seed-to-sale tracking program by paying Metrc $40 per month, $0.45 for each cannabis plant, and $0.25 for each cannabis product.
The point of Metrc’s tags and software is to enable Oklahoma regulators to track in real time the life cycle of cannabis plants from “seed to sale.” This is accomplished by the use of what are now cheaply and widely available tags containing radio frequency identification technology that broadcasts data about an object’s location. These tags are attached to cannabis plants and retail packaging.
In contrast to Oklahoma, neighboring Missouri is taking a significantly different approach with Metrc also being used as its seed-to-sale tracker. Officials in Missouri awarded a $5 million contract to Metrc after a bidding process that prohibited the winning vendor from charging the cannabis industry for radio-frequency tags.
After winning the Missouri contract, however, Metrc filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that it did, in fact, have a right to charge cannabis licensees for the RFID tags placed on plants and products. The case ascended in January to a Missouri district court of appeals where a panel of judges ruled in favor of the state and barred Metrc from charging for the tags.
Metrc’s company origins are in the government regulation of cannabis. Its customers are government regulatory agencies, rather than fledgling cannabis businesses. Metrc is an acronym for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance. Oklahoma’s cannabis industry is mandated to use the system even where businesses already privately pay for their own business technology that tracks inventory and transactions.
Metrc emphasizes that its products are optimized to interact with typical third-party management systems used by cannabis businesses. The company argues that its pricing structure is fair, because businesses only pay for the inventory they have and pay more as they become increasingly successful. The company also says its tags can meet all environmental conditions from cultivation to retail and ultimately aid businesses in operating more smoothly.
Said COO Koski at the Feb. 24 event:
“Metrc is the most trusted and experienced track-and-trace system in the United States … There are over 150,000 users in the system, which is more than any other track-and-trace vendor. … Since we track so many different events -- from immature plant to finished product -- regulators are able to really quickly identify products that may be dangerous to public health.”
OMMA, for its part, says the agency’s goal is to protect both medical cannabis patients and marijuana dispensaries from poorly made and manufactured cannabis products that do not meet quality and safety standards. Said agency Director Kelly Williams at the media event:
“For a lot of patients who utilize medical cannabis, a lot of them have special health risks that need to be considered. And even for those without health risks, there are sometimes contaminants that may be in cannabis, such as certain pesticides that can be very harmful, even for those without preexisting health risks. So it’s really important to us that we do everything we can to protect patient safety.”
Metrc has quickly emerged as a major player among the small number of businesses seeking state contracts for seed-to-sale cannabis tracking. The cannabis-forward venture firm co-founded by rap legend Snoop Dogg pumped $50 million into Metrc two years ago. The company grew 60 percent during 2020, and its agreement with Oklahoma brings Metrc’s total number of state and local clients to 16.
Listening to: Dolly Parton “Coat of Many Colors” Reply with an email or sign up to receive alerts. Follow Green Country Monitor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If you appreciate this work, consider leaving a tip.