Knowledge is Power: What California Dispensaries Need to Know to be Successful in a Track and Trace World
Back in January of last year, California’s cannabis industry braced themselves as METRC’s 6-month emergency regulations took effect. Then, as July 1st neared, and the introductory window came to a close, the industry held their breath in anticipation of the state’s track and trace system (CCTT) coming online in full force. But instead of awarding operators with their permanent annual licenses as expected, the state decided to issue blanket extensions to all temporary license holders instead — and did this repeatedly until the end of 2018.
The decision to extend temporary licenses caused the industry to sigh both a collective sigh of relief and harbor a new form nervous energy. The issue was, neither the state nor METRC had provided any answers to the burning questions on everyone's mind: when would the permanent regulations actually take effect? And what would the regulations actually be? After all, the extensions had been issued without enough supporting information to allow business owners to rest easy or even plan accordingly. Now, more than halfway through January 2019 and the industry still finds itself in the same temporary-license-limbo as it was last year.
But as METRC continues working diligently towards rolling out California’s new state track and trace system, one thing has become abundantly clear: software providers like Treez, who can provide peace of mind by ensuring constant compliance, are an absolute necessity for cannabis operations both big and small.
That’s why in January of 2018, we made the decision to use this industry milestone as the catalyst for us to develop the next generation of Treez. A platform that’s even more powerful, reliable, and best of all, automated when it comes to interfacing with METRC.
The Next Generation of Treez’s Compliant Point of Sale Software Has Arrived
Since our vision has always been to create a more automated and interconnected cannabis ecosystem, we saw the upcoming transition to METRC as an opportunity to propel that mission forward in a big way. By developing a system that not only makes staying compliant easy — it makes it enjoyable. And as we draw nearer to go time for METRC — after all, California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) officially approved the new regulations last week — we wanted to start introducing you to some of the new and improved functionality that will exist in the next iteration of Treez, especially as it relates to METRC.
As a quick aside for our out of state customers, the 2.0 platform is absolutely capable of operating in states where METRC isn’t. We’ve intentionally designed it in a way that makes using it as a standalone platform or integrating with each state’s chosen seed-to-sale system simple and effective.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be filling in some of the gaps about what will be included in the revamped platform. Like introducing you to our expertly crafted inventory and product management pages, our brand new reporting suite — that’s real-time and built-in to the product, and our new tier pricing module that extends beyond flower and supports tier pricing for concentrates and unit-based products. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly touch on some of your most pressing questions about how Treez will interface with METRC, and how we’ll be supporting you during the upcoming transition and beyond.
Answering the Top 8 METRC + Treez Questions for CA Dispensaries
1) When I’m issued my permanent annual license, what will I do next?
The first step is to log in to METRC and order your ‘tags’ (a.k.a. package labels) as soon as possible. Tags are unique identifiers that METRC uses to track cannabis products, and you’ll be responsible for assigning these to your inventory during your transition on to METRC and beyond.
Your tags will take about 7 days to arrive from the time payment is received, and since you’ll need to be compliant within 30 days of receiving your license, time will be of the essence. Once you have these in hand, we’ll be able to create your ‘starting inventory’ in METRC.
2) What is a “package” in METRC?
Packages are how cannabis products are organized in METRC, often understood in the context of physical shipments of inventory. Every package must have a METRC tag physically attached to the box the inventory items are delivered in and have the tag associated with the inventory in METRC. Packages shouldn't be confused with products, as each product can have multiple packages. (e.g. A box of Valhalla CBD gummies delivered on 1/1/2019 and a box of Valhalla CBD gummies delivered 2/1/2019 would be distinct packages with their own package tags but are the same product.)
3) What’s a ‘starting inventory’?
When METRC first comes online and annual licenses are still being issued throughout the supply chain, METRC will be an “open” system for a limited time. This means, products won’t be required (or able) to be tracked from seed-to-sale quite yet. Instead, retailers will be responsible for uploading their ‘starting inventory’ which will reflect all of the products they currently have on-hand in their shop.
After all the annual licenses have been awarded, METRC will shift to a “closed-loop” system, which will require products to originate from the properly licensed entity. For example, retailers will no longer be able to create a product out of thin air (as is the case with your starting inventory), and instead, inventory coming from a licensed distributor will already have an existing manifest in METRC and will simply need to be “received.”
It’s important to note as well, there will be an interim period where some operators have been awarded their annual licenses while others will still have temporary ones. During this time, the steps required for receiving inventory will follow a few unique workflows, determined by who has which type of license. But, we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions for that process after you’ve been awarded your permanent annual license.
4) How will Treez help me migrate over onto METRC?
Great question! Once you’ve received your permanent annual license and ordered your tags, we’ll be working closely with you during the first 30-days to prepare your ‘starting inventory’ for METRC. To do this, you’ll be cleaning and counting your inventory, and assigning METRC package labels to each product. Then we’ll upload your inventory into METRC overnight, so when you wake up in the morning, you’ll be ready to sell, sell, sell!
Similar to question #3 above, you don’t worry about the details of this process quite yet. When the time comes, we’ll make sure you’re set up for success and clearly understand the exact steps you’ll need to follow in order to be compliant from day one. For our current customers, you can gain more insight about the specifics of this process by logging into the Treez portal and reading through the METRC FAQs on our help center.
5) Will I need to resticker my entire inventory?
Nope! You won’t be required to resticker a single product in your Treez inventory.
6) I’m selling stock from multiple shipments at once. How will I know I’m selecting the right package at POS?
We’ve designed the next generation of our dispensary software in a way that makes associating a METRC package tag with a Treez inventory item simple and automated. Meaning, we'll know exactly what package is associated with each item in a customer’s cart — allowing us to send clean, compliant sales data to METRC after every transaction.
7) How will Treez upload my sales data to METRC?
Every time an order is completed, Treez will automatically send transaction details to METRC through our METRC API integration. If we encounter an error during this process that prevents us from being able to send or receive data, we’ll display the exact action you’ll need to take to remedy the situation in our METRC Sales Report, so you can quickly get your inventory back on track.
8) How will my inventory count and reconciliation procedures change?
By law, CCTT requires you to conduct an inventory count and perform reconciliations every 30-days, but we recommend you do this on a daily basis. By enlisting the help of proper inventory management procedures — we’ll be sharing best practices and tips & tricks along the way! — and our new built-in reconciliation tools, you can drastically reduce the time it takes to perform these routine tasks, while also limiting the number of miscounts and shrinkage that require any reconciliation to begin with.
We hope this helps you wrap your head around some of the upcoming changes with METRC, and sheds a little light on some of the many ways we’ll be supporting you during the transition and beyond. Whether you’re a new or existing customer, we can’t wait to give you a closer look at the Treez 2.0 platform! Just tell us what time works best for you and we’ll get your demo on the books.
We know there are still a ton of exciting updates to share about the newest iteration of Treez, and this only begins to scratch the surface. Rest assured, we’ll be providing you with plenty of helpful resources, guided training sessions, and in-depth blog posts to help get you comfortable and confident with the many amazing updates headed your way. Stay tuned!