Every industry has some type of track-and-trace system in place. So, it didn’t come as a surprise that when states started regulating the cannabis industry, they also implemented a track-and-trace system. For this, the first ‘cannabis states’ selected Metrc. As new states jumped onto the green bandwagon, they all opted for the safest bet, and they too implemented Metrc in their cannabis programs. The thing is that growers transitioning to the legal cannabis industry may have a hard time understanding all the nuances of such a system. “Unlike other industries, in cannabis, there are so many things going on here,” says Mike Pavlak, CEO of StashStock, a company specialized in Metrc-integrated solutions for commercial cannabis operations. “This is because there are so many cultivars and so many different products that can be made out of this single plant.” Thus, because of the vastly different subproducts produced in the cannabis industry, the track-and-trace system needs to be particularly strict. “That’s why we don’t see this anywhere else,” he adds.
Cannabis and track-and-trace
“I grew cannabis as a caregiver for 10 years,” Mike remarks. “So, I’m familiar with the struggle of growing different genetics at the same time. It’s a huge burden, especially if you don’t have proper digital tools to keep track of everything.” That’s when it gets easier to mix up plants, both during the cultivation and the drying processes. “As an industry, we owe quite a bit to consumers,” he adds. “There are so many cultivars, and as a grower, you always want to provide the same, consistent products. It is quite a burden, and admittedly as a grower, I appreciate that, but as a cultivator, we need to ensure that the customer is getting what they are expecting - and ensure there is accountability. These are the types of things that a track-and-trace system solves, and Metrc does that. As a grower, it’s crucial to understand that this is not arbitrary, we are doing this because we owe something to consumers, and we need to step up for that.”
Each plant counts
For instance, growers need to weigh and report every plant they cut. “Growers do this in many different ways, and oftentimes this is when cross-contamination can more easily happen,” he points out. “Imagine you spend 60 days to flower a room of 500 plants. You have to weigh each plant individually so you cut one at a time and set it in a bin or on a table to allow someone to weigh it. If a single plant has mold or other contamination on it, you risk infecting hundreds of plants simply because they all went into that bin or onto that table. On top of that, the whole process is very labor-intensive. That’s why we designed the CannaScale.” CannaScale is a digital, hanging scale capable of weighing plants by simply pulling a trigger. “Our core principle is to make tools that can be easy to operate and are super user-friendly. In this way, operators can easily update their track-and-trace as they work, since all our products are fully integrated with Metrc.”
By focusing on each plant, and having their weight processed immediately by the CannaScale, the job of many people can be done by just one or two, in a fraction of the time. “Once, an operation with 20,000 plants wanted to trial the CannaScale. After the first 20 minutes of the harvest, they told me that they felt like they were doing something wrong since they were just pulling the trigger and not interacting with the app at all,” he chuckles. “I told him that’s the beauty of the system, you don’t have to do anything except scan the tags!” That story ends with the grower weighing all the plants in less than one day and going home with the team instead of staying for after to enter in harvest weights. “It’s just more than saving time, it saves money."
Everything under control
Keeping this efficiency flow is crucial for any cannabis grower, and needs to stay this way for the entire cultivation process, from seed to harvest. “That’s why we have developed the CannaScanner, which is about bulk activity,” Mike says. “Growers often move hundreds of plants at a time into a flowering room and need to report the individual tags that moved. Identifying the tags of the specific plants that moved can take hours just to capture and upload. With the CannaScanner, you can just walk in between your rows of plants, scan every tag in the blink of an eye, and immediately have all the info on each plant on your screen.”
Documenting the entire cultivation process is paramount to achieving max efficiency, but it doesn’t end there. “To maximize your bottom line and the quality of the product you release, you need to know what happens throughout the operation, even what’s inside each package of the different cultivars one grows,” Mike continues. “That’s where our Reporting Suite comes into play. This tool is mainly used by the executive team and gives you an overview of the different cultivars, how they perform, the harvest output, what happens during the drying process, and when the cannabis gets in packages. Since everything is powered by Metrc, it means that all the info you need about your products is there: for instance, when comparing two harvested cultivars, they could have the same package weight, but one has more waste than the other, and a grower can directly address that.”
Thus, complying with a track-and-trace system is not something unique to the cannabis industry, though admittedly it gets super complex in this instance. At the same time, there are ways in which this system can benefit growers, provided it is made as user-friendly as possible. “That’s what we have been doing from the start. We are now looking at expanding our offering beyond cultivation, so as to serve the full extent of the cannabis supply chain,” Mike concludes.