In November 1996, California became the first state to pass the Compassionate Use Act which made it legal for state residents to use medical marijuana. Patients and their caregivers could now cultivate cannabis for medical treatment, as prescribed by a physician.
Today, a total of 32 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam have since enacted similar laws. With different states introducing more stringent reporting standards, cannabis producers have turned to seed-to-sale systems to accurately track their inventory.
But, what exactly are they? This explores all you need to know about this technology and what it means for the cannabis industry.
What Does “Seed to Sale” Mean
Seed-to-sale refers to the marijuana supply chain. So, seed-to-sale systems provide the means to track, monitor, and control the cannabis supply chain.
The supply chain involves seven key compliance stages. These are commonly referred to as the seed-to-sale lifecycle.
Stage 1: Cultivation
In this stage, a globally unique identifier is assigned to each plant. It records the different phases of development as well as all staff interactions. This ensures accountability at every stage of the plant’s maturation.
Stage 2: Harvesting
All cannabinoids are batched by material-type. Each batch receives a new identifier. It contains a comprehensive record of the plant’s history up until that point.
Stage 3: Testing
All cannabis derivatives are rigorously tested for chemicals or contaminants before they can be released into the market. The results of these tests are recorded and printed on product labels.
Stage 4: Transportation
Before transporting cannabis, a detailed manifest must be completed. It displays the origin of the consignment, quantity, destination, driver credentials, and custody chain. These reports are then made available to law enforcement authorities in real-time.
Stage 5: Point-Of-Sale
The production company has to be able to track each sale to the final patient. This stage fulfills an unbroken seed-to-sale chain of custody.
Stage 6: Customer Identification and Verification
A unique identifier is assigned to every patient who purchases the product. This information has to be verified and validated in real-time.
Stage 7: Detailed Analytics
Detailed analytics of the end-to-end process is prepared and made available to government agencies. The information also includes financial reports to ensure that companies comply with and fulfill their tax obligations.
Benefits of Seed-To-Sale Software for the Cannabis Industry
From the lifecycle outlined in the previous section, it’s easy to see why intensive tracking is required to enforce compliance and satisfy legislation. Seed-to-sale software is designed for this very purpose. It allows companies to get real-time insights into every stage of the lifecycle. Some of the major benefits the software offers to producers and distributors include:
- Monitoring and analyzing data from previous harvests to optimize future yields.
- Tracking and recording plant genetics, cross-breeding and any other genealogy processes.
- Customizing workflows to support the wet/dry weighing of various plant derivatives. This comes in handy for accurate product grading.
- Monitoring and analyzing nutrients and pesticides applied.
- Keeping track of watering and light cycles, and, strain logs.
What Does Seed-To-Sale Entail
Seed-to-sale software tracks various aspects of medical marijuana. It tells the final customer and regulatory authorities where the product has been and where it eventually ends up.
It also checks on the various strains of the plant that are available and the number of cannabinoids in them. That way, a consumer can make a side-to-side comparison of new and existing strains of cannabis.
This information helps them make an informed decision when purchasing a particular cannabis product. It also aids producers in making sure that their customers receive the right products in the correct quantities.
One of the best things about the software is its ability to integrate scales within the systems. This allows both producers and distributors to give out accurate dosages of the product.
Key Components of Seed to Sale Software
Cannabis systems go beyond helping companies stay on top of their compliance game. They also incorporate business features that allow for a myriad of different functions.
While there are numerous software platforms available in the market today, all of them support the following general capabilities:
Any good seed-to-sale system relies on some type of signature marker. This identifier is scanned automatically at every stage in the plant growth and distribution process.
The most common markers are barcodes which make it easy and efficient to track a product from the moment the seed is embedded in the soil to when it finally gets to the consumer.
Cannabis producers must ensure that every aspect of their production and distribution process complies with the existing regulatory framework. So, how can they prove this? How do they show the government that their company operations are in strict adherence to the law?
The answer lies in audit trails. Seed to sale software allows companies to record every product they produce or sell. Authorities can then access records that date back indefinitely should the need arise.
Depending on what type of seed-to-sale system a company is using, some of them integrate built-in scales. These work directly with the system. Producers are then able to make precise product measurements and record them for posterity.
Strain Analysis Tools
There are thousands of cannabis strains in existence today. More often than not, it becomes quite difficult to tell the difference between various types.
Giving a customer the wrong strain could open up a company to civil litigation. Worse still, it could have dire health repercussions for the patient.
If a company introduces a new strain to its line of products, it’s important to track and monitor it to ensure that it works as intended. Seed-to-sale systems effectively streamline this process, allowing distributors to analyze all the different strains they produce and sell.
In states where the production and use of medical marijuana aren’t outlawed, recreational use of the substance is still prohibited. Individuals found in possession of marijuana which isn’t intended for medical purposes are criminally liable.
Additionally, if a cannabis producer or distributor ends up with missing stock, they could land themselves into quite a bit of trouble. Inventory management is, therefore, a crucial component of most seed to sale systems. This not only helps keep the business profitable but it also enhances the security of the entire end-to-end operation. Companies can ensure that all the cannabis they produce goes towards its intended purpose.
Most seed-to-sale platforms come integrated with point-of-sale (POS) systems that allow customers to easily purchase medical cannabis.
These systems not only streamline the checkout process but they also record vital customer data with every transaction. Because it comes integrated with inventory management, it makes the process all the more rewarding from a distributor standpoint.
Without proper security measures in place, it’s quite easy for cannabis stock to go missing. The likelihood of this is higher if people other than authorized staff have access to the products. For this reason, these systems place heavy emphasis on security by incorporating advanced features to ensure that only authorized persons handle the product. Some even incorporate biometric technology that recognizes various physical signatures like fingerprints. This goes a long way in restricting and controlling access to a company’s cannabis products.
Impact of the Systems
It comes as no surprise that seed-to-sale platforms have had a positive impact on the cannabis industry. They increase transparency in every aspect of the production and distribution process.
It’s a win-win for producers, consumers, and government agencies alike. Here’s how.
- Consumers can access information about the origins of their product and the processes it passed through before finally getting to them. This builds the consumer’s confidence in both the product and the company.
- It helps businesses protect their customers against faulty or mislabelled products. If damaged or contaminated products do end up in the market, it’s easy to trace them and recall them.
- Multi-level transparency in the supply chain helps companies build a solid reputation.
- When government agencies come knocking, businesses are better poised to protect themselves. That way they avoid possible criminal and civil culpability.
- Regulatory bodies also have additional tools they can use to enforce compliance.
- Eventually, the continued and widespread use of seed-to-sale software in the cannabis industry increases the likelihood of the government easing up on stringent regulations.
The Future of Seed-To-Sale Technology
Up until recently, the cannabis industry was shrouded in mystery. Seed to sale software now casts a positive light on the sector. It has transformed what used to be individual back-alley operations to openly public and legitimate businesses.
As the industry continues to evolve, production will inevitably grow to a larger scale. Seed to sale technology provides a lasting solution to these growing demands. Adopting the right software will cater to your scaling needs.
Not sure which system is right for your business? Check out these 7 tips to choose the best seed to sale software in 2019.