Washington state’s legal cannabis market has seen many changes since its 2014 launch — however, what has been consistent is a legal obligation for companies to track cannabis from seed to sale. Now, Washington is set to upgrade its seed to sale tracking software to a familiar name that will accommodate the state’s growing cannabis market needs.
Although the contract has not officially been awarded, the WSLCB announced on May 31 they would be awarding the bid to Franwell. Their software, Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Compliance (METRC), is also used in Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Franwell was one of seven vendors who submitted bids and was chosen as one of three finalists who presented day-long pitches in late May to members of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). Additionally, some industry leaders were consulted during the proposal development phase.
According to WSLCB spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter, the cost and duration of the contract won’t be known until the contract is executed — but the initial cost is projected to be $2.4 million, with 40% of that already in the current fiscal budget and allocated for planning and procurement. Going forward, the agency will seek to partner with licensees to fund the new system by charging a one-time fee of $480 on licenses issued between July 2017 and June 2018. Starting in July 2018, licensees will see a 30% license fee increase from $1000 to $1300 to pay for system maintenance and upgrades.
The WSLCB hopes to have METRC in place by October 31, 2017. The new system will protect medical cannabis patient information by only recording price, quantity, recognition card number, and whether the item was medical cannabis compliant — METRC will not be connected to the Marijuana Authorization Database, a state-held record of patients who are authorized to use and potentially grow cannabis for medical reasons.
“Over the last four years we have learned a lot about this industry, including aspects of the industry that were unknown when the current traceability system was implemented. The number of changes we would like to make to the existing system is beyond the scope of our existing contract,” said WSLCB Director Rick Garza. “We need a system that will grow and flex with Washington’s maturing marijuana system.”
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