The Ultimate Fright: Cannabis Without A Traceability System

It might be Halloween but that is not the scariest thing about today. 


Today is the last day of the Washington cannabis industry’s seed-to-sale tracking system.  Tomorrow, the system will go dark for an estimated three months while the State’s new provider, MJ Freeway (Leaf Data Systems), gets up and running.  The ramifications of this off-line tracking could be catastrophic (e.g. opening the door to Jeff Sessions’ dream fight) or it could just be an internal headache for all involved.  How bad will it be?  No one knows yet.  Here is what we do know:

Manual Tracking

In its official statement, the WSLCB asked licensees to keep track of their cannabis sales manually, using spreadsheets, and submit those reports to the WSLCB on a weekly basis.  The State is providing spreadsheets to aid in this process, but the extra time and money that this will take may slow production in the industry’s most critical time: harvest.  

BioTrackTHC’s Statement

As we were wading through these questions, trying to get our hands on more information, BioTrackTHC’s CEO sent an open letter to the Washington cannabis industry addressing the gap in coverage, and how BioTrackHTC customers could be effected.  The WSLCB had apparently asked BioTrackTHC to extend their contract with the State during the interim time period, however, talks broke down over security concerns.  The letter also notes the pay discrepancy between what BioTrackTHC was receiving under its State contract, what Leaf will be paid, and what BioTrackTHC was offered to stay online during the interim gap.    

If you use a paid version of BioTrackTHC or another software provider who has subscribed to use BioTrackTHC’s contingency solution, you may not see a change to the look and feel of your software solution, as stated on BioTrackTHC’s website.  There are many questions that remain unanswered, and we will not know how the contingency solution really works until it launches at the close of business today.

Possible Ramifications

The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has written a letter to every state where recreational cannabis is legal — warning these sates that cannabis is still illegal under federal law, and “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a crime.”  Tracking cannabis seed-to-sale is also addressed in the Cole Memo

Without an online traceability system, will Washington be left open for federal interference?  Will this lack of online system open the door to arguments that the black market is alive and well, and that cannabis is traveling over state lines?

Only time will tell.  It will be up to the industry to show, once and for all, that it has the integrity to jump yet another hurdle, operating without the traceability system, and keep its nose clean.  There will be headaches and there is the potential for bad actors to use the lack of traceability software to conduct illegal activity.  However, this industry is used to setbacks and is highly adaptable.  I am optimistic the industry will use this snafu as an opportunity to show its perseverance and professionalism.