SPRINGFIELD — The state’s regulation of the marijuana industry will include radio frequency technology to do seed-to-sale tracking.
“The ‘METRC’ system will serve as a critical compliance tool that will allow the commission to centrally monitor the movement of marijuana plants and products as they progress throughout the legal market,” Shawn Collins, executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, said in a press release last week.
The Lakeland, Florida-based Franwell, a technology provider, is the parent company of METRC, which stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance.
The commission and the company offered workshops on the tracking technology last month here and in Worcester and Boston.
The oversight is aimed at ensuring accountability in the marijuana industry. Oversight is to be achieved using serialized radio frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to marijuana plants and packages, computer hardware such as antennas and software.
No need to worry about the government using the tags to monitor marijuana consumers beyond point of sale. The tags are “readable” only in areas in which RFID hardware exists, according to industry analysts.
Advantages of using such a system to track marijuana plants include, according to the RFID Insider story:
RFID doesn’t need line of sight to locate a plant in a readable area.
RFID tags can be rewritten and reused.
RFID tags are durable against impact and environmental factors.
RFID tags can read hundreds of tags in seconds.
RFID systems can be integrated with other internal systems or processes.
The ski industry has been using RFID technology for years to control access to ski lifts and monitor a skier’s location in case of emergency, RFID Insider said.
“By recording activities such as testing and transportation, the platform will serve as the system of record to help promote public health and public safety, support commission investigatory activities and record establishment inventory and transactions clearly and securely,” the commission press release said.
The tracking system is costing the state $260,000, or $65,000 over each of the next four quarters, according to the Draft for Discussion between the commission and METRC. (see below)
The commission said it issued a request for proposals from companies that offer such tracking technology, received 14 and chose METRC.
Here’s a sampling of the slide presentation the commission offered about the tracking system: