What Is Metrc? A Dead-Simple Metrc Compliance Guide

budtender putting cannabis on scale with tongs

What Is Metrc?

An explainer from Metrc’s official YouTube account

In the cannabis industry, Metrc is a government-mandated track-and-trace software. It’s a web-based platform that’s designed to track cannabis from the beginning of the supply chain to the end (so-called seed-to-sale). As of the time this article was written, cannabis businesses are required to use Metrc in 15 states.

What Is Track-and-Trace Software?

A screenshot of Metrc’s harvest tracking module

If you’ve ever used supply chain management software or customer relationship management (CRM) software, Metrc is kind of like that. It’s about tracking a single entry across time, phases, channels, and locations. With CRM software, for example, you’re tracking a customer from the prospect to the deal and to the customer stage, in some cases all the way to decommissioning, including all emails and phone calls and meetings, even as they grow or move locations.

Similarly, with track-and-trace software you’re tracking cannabis from being planted to being processed, packaged, and sold (or destroyed, as the case may be). It doesn’t matter if you’re involved in only one stage of the supply chain – cultivation, processing, distribution, testing, or retailing – you still have to use Metrc to track your activities involving the cannabis plant or product.

If you’re looking for software that gives you a complete view of your business across verticals, seed-to-sale software is more what you’re looking for.

Do You Have to Use Metrc?

Yes, if you are in one of the 15 states that uses Metrc as its designated track-and-trace system. One thing you don’t have to do, though, is directly enter your data into Metrc if you don’t want to. Instead you can either upload a properly formatted spreadsheet or use software that integrates with Metrc. It’s still your responsibility to ensure the data being sent from your third-party software to Metrc is accurate.

Why Do States Require You to Use Metrc?

To make running a cannabis business even more complicated and difficult ;). Actually, track-and-trace systems are meant to prevent cannabis from being sold on the black market and to prevent tax evasion, ensuring a fairer market for everyone.

Why the Metrc track-and-trace system in particular? States choose their track-and-trace systems in a typical government bidding process. The other two main track-and-trace systems are BioTrack and Leaf Data. BioTrack is used in New York, Illinois, New Mexico, Arkansas, Hawaii, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Leaf Data is used in Pennsylvania and Washington.

What Software Integrates with Metrc?

A screenshot of the list of validated software vendors for California, including what modules they’re validated for

Each state is different. Check the page for the state you’re operating in on the Metrc website for a list of vendors that have been approved to use the Metrc API. Most of the cannabis POS and ERP applications you’ve heard of – including BioTrack, MJ Platform, Cova, Flowhub, Leaf Logix, GrowFlow, and Canix – integrate with Metrc in most states.

What States Use Metrc?

Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

How Much Does Metrc Cost?

An explanation of Metrc’s tags from the California introductory guide

It depends on the state. In some states like California both the software and the RFID tags are free (well, technically they’re included in your license fee). Other states charge $40 monthly to use the software and $.25 per package tag and $.45 per plant tag.

How Do You Get Started with Metrc?

Metrc training is often required whenever you apply for a license in a state that uses it. It’s therefore not something you have to seek out independently.

In California, to use a specific example, each license holder needs to have a designated account manager, and this account manager has to be the business owner. You have to have a license already to get access to the Metrc training program. Once you pass training, you can start using Metrc and ordering your tags and labels. The account manager is also responsible for making sure all data entered in the system is accurate and for providing other users with access and ensuring they’re properly trained.

How Does Metrc Work?

Here you can see the difference between the tagging requirements of Massachusetts, which has the same plant ID from seed to harvest, and California, which requires an extra ID for immature plants.

It depends on the state and whether or not you’re using third-party software or not and what exactly you’re doing at your business, but in general Metrc works like this:

  1. You log in to the Metrc platform or your integrated third-party software
  2. You enter in tracking data as you work. This often involves scanning the relevant RFID tag for the specific plants or products you’re working with, as you, for example, move your plants in and out of the flowering room, harvest them, process and package them, transfer them from one location to another, or sell them to a consumer.
  3. You place Metrc RFID tags and labels on your products as required.
  4. You make sure the data is submitted, either instantly or at the end of the day. If the Metrc system is down, the state may allow you submit your data once the system comes back online. Not having an internet connection isn’t a valid excuse for not submitting your Metrc data on-time as required.

Metrc RFID tags work with both RFID and regular barcode scanners. You can also enter the numbers on the tags manually.

You order new Metrc tags and labels via an online portal. It’s your responsibility to make sure you always have enough tags on hand for all of your items as required, so make sure to order ahead and keep track of your supply. The tags and labels come with all the necessary info on them, so you don’t have to print anything on them.

What Do You Have to Track?

Metrc’s guide to manually entering a sale into their system

It depends on your state. In California for example you start by assigning a unique ID for each lot of up to 100 immature plants. Each of these immature plants needs a tag with that unique ID. Then each flowering plant needs its own unique ID and tag. And so on from there. While other states may only require to use one tag with one unique ID for each plant throughout its lifecycle. These details should be covered in your state’s Metrc training program.

What Do I Do If I Need Help with Metrc?

If you have questions about the specific version of Metrc you use, check out the user manual on your online portal or reach out to Metrc support directly.

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