Opening a marijuana dispensary in Colorado may not be as easy as you think. On January 1, 2014, Colorado became the first U.S. state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. But years before this landmark legalization, Colorado enacted strict regulations to monitor medical marijuana and meticulously account for all pot legally produced in the state.
In 2011, Colorado’s legislature passed HB 1284, better known as the “seed-to-sale law.” This marijuana law required every pot-producing plant to be tracked by the state’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED) through each stage of its life, from cultivation to point of sale.
Two years later, officials launched a first-of-its-kind computer schema, the Marijuana Enforcement Tracking, Reporting, and Compliance system— better known as METRC. The METRC database stores highly detailed information, such as a specific plant’s size and location in a facility, and who buys the products of a certain plant. The tracking is done in real-time, and is reportedly fail-safe.
The seed-to-sale program also introduced random medical marijuana inspections. During these unannounced visits, inspectors check the number of plants, how much product is being dried and cured, and they may even ask to see a specific patient’s plant.
In order to meet these requirements, many clinics will label a plant with more than 20 pieces of information, including when it was planted, each time it was weighed, the strain’s THC or CBC levels, its intended patient, and the endpoint dispensary. Clinics aim to have every leaf accounted for in the operation—so they can stay open by operating within the letter of Colorado’s law.
Recreational marijuana customers can expect a similar protocol for Colorado stores. Since the seed-to-sale law first passed four years ago, it’s increased from 77 pages of regulations to more than 500. Now, marijuana plants are tracked through radio frequency identification (RFID), the same technology that tracks pets. Each RFID tag contains a unique 24-digit ID number that’s updated at every step of production.
If any marijuana products are contaminated with mold, officials can use METRC to track the tainted pot back to the growers and sellers. Yet, while the state-mandated system promotes public safety, some advocates claim it’s time-consuming, costly, and susceptible to human error.
Speak with one of Bulbulyan’s consultants to find out more about the marijuana-monitoring laws in Colorado and other states. We have the experience and know-how to help you create a law-abiding system. If you already have a system in place, we can audit it to determine whether it would pass a state inspection. Our consultants can provide more information on your state’s marijuana tracking laws, and how we can fine-tune your operations to perfect compliance.