On New Years Day, Colorado became the aboriginal accompaniment to approve the auction of recreational marijuana. The new legislation has affronted a Denver-bound flood of “Ganjapreneurs” and kickstarted what is abiding to be a actual assisting pot tourism trade.
Yet the business is far beneath hippie and far added accepted than it appears.
The Colorado accompaniment government enforces the auction of marijuana with a set of regulations (500 pages in all) advised to shut out the atramentous market. For one, it stipulates agenda tracking of marijuana plants from berry to sale, application radio abundance identification (RFID) technology.
The cannabis industry is about acquisitive to accede with alike the best acrimonious government regulations, thereby proving the marijuana bazaar can be both advantageous and legitimate. However, accomplishing problems accept slowed the retail pot business’s advancing boom.
Mike Elliott, controlling administrator of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, a barter affiliation that promotes and protects Colorado’s medical marijuana industry, explains that business owners who appetite to abide application their accepted sales software still charge to ascribe abstracts into the state-operated arrangement manually. This leads to a acceleration of information, ashen man-hours and the abeyant for animal absurdity in recording sales transactions.
“We accept to use MITS (Marijuana Account Tracking Solutions) and that’s fine,” says Elliott. “But if we appetite to accumulate application our own point of auction systems, which has been such an basic allotment of authoritative the business work, it’s a problem. The accompaniment arrangement has taken over and aback we’re not as able accumulate clue of things internally.”
Cheyenne Fox attaches anew accustomed RFID tags to pot plants crumbling central a abound abode in Colorado.
Image: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press
Since 2010, Colorado’s medical marijuana growers and dispensaries accept been appropriate to address their plants’ abode to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Administration Division. Earlier methods were analog and a little sloppy. The technology-reliant MITS was instituted in backward 2013.
“People like MITS because it cuts bottomward on the bulk of paperwork they do,” says Julie Postlethwait, a agent for the MED. “The cyberbanking manifests are automatically in our system. On the cardboard system, they would either email them in or fax them in, but we didn’t accede if we accustomed them.”
MITS was accounting into Colorado law afore the auction of recreational marijuana was legalized. “It’s an administration apparatus so that the MED knows how abundant marijuana is developed in the accompaniment of Colorado and area it is in the facilities,” says Postlethwait. Its aboriginal ambition was to digitize and facilitate the laws already on the books; the timing of the retail marijuana amends was a blessed accident.
In the medical and retail marijuana industry, marijuana plants are broadcast by abridgement a axis from one bulb to actualize a new one. The new bulb is issued an RFID tag with a different 24-digit ID number, which is entered into the government’s online system. Back the bulb is harvested, its leaves and buds are alien to a marijuana banker with a new RFID tag and a printed characterization account the plant’s origins. The arrangement is adapted at every footfall of the assembly process.
The authoritative framework additionally requires 24-hour video surveillance of facilities, as able-bodied as accepted acquiescence checks.
MITS’s ambition is to ensure that marijuana plants are advancing from state-authorized abound accessories and actuality transported to state-authorized retailers, acid off the atramentous market. The arrangement can additionally be reverse-engineered in case of contagion or affliction — annihilation of the array has happened yet — by acceptance the government to clue attenuated pot aback to its seller.
“Our end ambition is consistently accessible safety,” says Postlethwait.
An agent trims abroad added leaves from pot plants, agriculture the plant’s buds to be packaged and awash at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which opened as a recreational retail aperture in Jan. 2014, in Denver.
Image: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press
As an abstinent and arguable industry, marijuana retailers are absorbed on afterward these regulations to the letter. However, the government arrangement hasn’t fabricated it easy. It relies on the store’s own accounting annal to accumulate clue of a bulb from the moment it’s harvested to the moment it leaves the store, and these two sets of software are mostly incompatible.
According to Elliott, about 500 marijuana retailers accept been registered in the accompaniment of Colorado, forth with 126 alloyed artefact manufacturers and 700 growers. Not all of those retailers were able to accessible their doors on Jan. 1, though: Weather delays and the anniversary division meant some retailers did not accept the tags in time to accessible on “Green Wednesday,” and implementing the new arrangement requires time and training.
There accept been complaints about the amount as well: $0.25 to $0.45 per RFID tag, depending on type, and the tags are not reusable.
Most cogent is the state-mandated arrangement does not accommodate with the tracking and point-of-sale software medical marijuana dispensaries accept been application to accumulate tabs on their articles for years.
“Point of auction companies like MJ Freeway and BioTrack accept actual good, developed systems,” says Elliott. “They’ve been actual user-friendly. That’s the better rub, admitting — the new arrangement is not communicating with them. You accept to manually ascribe abstracts a additional time: already for the state’s affairs and afresh again for this added system.”
Doubling up account calculations not alone agency ashen man-hours, it leaves allowance for animal error, Elliott says. The aboriginal aberration in artful or inputting weights and quantities can be critical. (A medical marijuana ability that stocks added pot than what its patients crave faces fines and penalties.)
Employees trim pot plants to be awash at Medicine Man marijuana berth in Denver, Friday Dec. 27, 2013. Medicine Man was amid the aboriginal accumulation of Denver businesses to accept a authorization acceptance them to accurately advertise recreational marijuana.
Image: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press
The accompaniment government acknowledges its frustration, and Postlethwait says the state’s RFID tag manufacturer, Franwell, affairs to advance its arrangement to assignment in bike with sales software. However, she can’t specify back that ability happen.
“We were consistently actual accessible that [MITS] was article we were activity to develop,” she says. “We consistently said, ‘If you appetite to buy software to do your point of sale, that is a business accommodation you’re authoritative on your own.'”
The authoritative challenges don’t end with RFID. Marijuana businesses are about alone cash-only, which makes absolute auditing of abundance affairs a continued action with abeyant for error. Retailers face acrimonious packaging regulations — on par with decree drugs, says Elliott — and it has been difficult for manufacturers to accommodated their needs. Plus, food that advertise both medical and recreational marijuana face added hurdles in acknowledging with differing regulations for anniversary business.
As a whole, the cannabis industry is appetite to abide absolutely adjustable with the accompaniment government’s regulations admitting the challenges. It’s an industry beneath the microscope, afterwards all, and what happens in Colorado over the aing few months and years will acceptable affect federal and accompaniment governments’ attitude on legalizing marijuana. So admitting the hiccups, “we’re actual admiring of the seed-to-sale tracking program,” says Elliott. “It’s allowance to accompany legitimacy, transparency, accountability to this program.”
Elliott suggests the industry is artlessly experiencing growing pains as it evolves. He adds, “We’re not advancing anywhere aing to affair demand.”
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