This is a Metrc 101 guide for dispensary owners and staff, including how Metrc works, why Metrc compliance matters, about Metrc package tags, getting started with Metrc, and how to track events in Metrc.
What is Metrc?
Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) is a web-based, state-mandated software platform developed by Franwell for end-to-end tracking of the cannabis supply chain, from seed to sale. This includes the production, manufacturing, testing, distributing, and selling of cannabis products.
According to Franwell, Metrc was designed “to create safety and transparency for consumers in the cannabis industry.” Each state has slightly different system requirements to satisfy their unique regulations. The purpose is to provide transactional and inventory data to state regulators.
Metrc is the source of truth for all tracked events, but in order to streamline dispensary operations, you’ll need an API to your Metrc-compatible dispensary software to manage your day-to-day operations.
Why does Metrc compliance matter?
Enforcement agencies use data inconsistencies in Metrc to detect diversion. If these red flags are severe enough, they may spur an investigation that could lead to shutting down operations and/or hefty fines.
Every licensed cannabis business in a Metrc state has specific regulatory requirements for reporting inventory and sales.
You are responsible for meeting these regulatory reporting requirements with 100% accuracy.
In California, for example, fines may equal up to 50% of your average daily sale amount, multiplied by the number of days of suspension. The average suspension time for a Tier 1 offense is 7 days. If your store transacts an average of $5,000 in revenue per day, you’re looking at a $17,500 fine, not to mention lost revenue from being closed.
But fines and closures only happen when dispensaries aren’t diligent in their cannabis compliance. Metrc has actually been a useful tool to maintain compliance in the cannabis industry and it has a proven track record of success.
Understanding Metrc tags
Metrc tracks your plants and products with Radio Identification Tags or RFID tags. The tags are not reusable, so every package and plant has its own unique identifier.
There are two types of Metrc tags: Plant and Package.
Metrc plant tags
Metrc plant tags have the facility name, license number, application identifier (whether for medical or recreational use), tag order date, and unique plant identification number.
What exactly is tracked in metrc?
What is Metrc interested in tracking, beyond each plant? In simple terms, it’s the activities, growth phases and plant movements – whether it’s to a different room, into waste, or onto an extraction lab or retail store.
Cannabis plants, in all of their growth phases, are tracked with tags that include:
- plant identification number (along with a scannable barcode)
- application identifier (medical or recreational)
- tag order date
- license number
- facility name
What is a uid?
A UID, which stands for Unique Identifier, is simply an alphanumeric code used to identify a specific plant or cannabis product/by-product. In Metrc, products and by-products are referred to as “items”.
There are two types of tagged inventory in Metrc: Plants and Packages.
Plant tags are used to identify individual and batches of plants depending on where they currently are in their growth cycle.
Packages are groups of “items” that are prepared for transfer or sale to another licensee. Any amount of cannabis or cannabis product that may be sold, manufactured or transferred, must be placed into one or more packages. Each package must have a distinct UID (package tag).
Metrc package tags
Metrc package tags are the physical sticker on every package. Instead of using a plant number, they are each given a 24-digit package number. Every package has only one type of product in it.
Metrc tag cost
Metrc tags cost anywhere from $.25 to $.45 a tag. For a facility that has 50,000 plants, this equals over $22,000 just for plant tags and that’s not including the tags needed for packaging. If you have a larger operation your costs could be anywhere from $5,400 to $30,000 in plant tags alone.
Tags are purchased directly from Franwell. They aren’t cheap, so be sure to properly attach them to plants and packages to avoid waste. Also, make sure you don’t run out of tags or you won’t be able to package or transfer any new material.
Metrc offers an API, application programming interface, that allows 3rd party software to interact with their system. A 3rd party software might elect to build a Metrc integration in order to improve the process of reporting compliance data. Metrc integrated software typically offers a better user experience and often additional functionality or value.
Systems like Trym allow cultivators to report nearly every Metrc event. Our customers go into Metrc very rarely. The need to work in both systems applies to all 3rd party software due to Metrc’s API limitations.
Remember, Metrc is simply a reporting tool. An application that allows you to send data to the state to maintain compliance. It requires tedious plant tracking and data entry but offers no insights in return. This is where 3rd party software shines.
Systems like Trym, can facilitate reporting to Metrc while providing a more user-friendly interface, additional features, and top-notch customer support. Trym will keep you compliant while also saving labor hours, and providing insights to help boost production or efficiency.
Trym is currently integrated with Metrc in California and serves as a ‘seed-to-sale’ software solution for cultivators. In addition to Metrc reporting and compliance, Trym offers a unique combination of environmental monitoring, team and task management, harvest planning, and analytics.
California metrc education
We did the research so you can save time and stay complaint. Ever notice the lack of Metrc resources available for cultivators? We felt there was room for improvement, so we set out out to create an easy-to-read Guide just for growers. For tips, tricks and workflows on how to grow that fine cannabis, compliantly, get a copy of our Metrc Guide here.
Hear what readers of our guide are saying:
“Thank you for the handy Metrc guide. It’s a lovely piece of work and great value to help me give my farm managers an easy overview.”
“I am all around impressed with how well you convey how Metrc works.”