Metrc continues to dominate the market in terms of seed-to-sale tracking in the cannabis industry, even as some advocates worry about the intentions of a data-collection software company.
“The data that is in our systems belongs to the states,” said Lewis Koski, COO of Metrc in a telephone interview with Grown In. “So, the states will be the ones that will be utilizing that data to help inform how things go forward. We provide the service that helps administer that for the state.”
In December, an advocate for Maine caregivers accused the company of being a data-selling conglomerate during the state’s monthly medical cannabis work group meeting. The group ultimately agreed to oppose mandatory seed tracking for its medical cannabis market, despite the state already using METRC in its recreational cannabis market.
Perhaps adding confusion to the commentary is the fact that the company is called “Metrc” but it sells a software product called “METRC,” which is an acronym for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance.
Rather than act as a central storage repository for the data, Koski said that Metrc provides state governments with the tools to monitor their own databases that the state operators report to. Given that much of the information submitted by businesses about their plants could be construed as proprietary information, Koski said he would not expect states to opt to release granular data to the public.
“What we have seen though is regulators providing insights off of aggregate data out of the system,” he said.
Once a cannabis seedling or clone becomes a viable plant, it gets tagged with an identifier number. This number is entered into METRC and is then referenced any time the plant is moved to another room, trimmed, as well as when it hits each distinct life cycle stage. The tracking continues after the plant is harvested and either packaged as flower or processed into concentrates or edibles.
METRC, the software product, was originally developed by Franwell, a Florida-based company focused on supply chain tracking. Metrc officially became a separate entity in 2018 with a $50 million funding round led by Tiger Global Management and Casa Verde Capital, according to a press release from Metrc at the time.
Franwell first introduced METRC in 2013 for Colorado’s then-burgeoning recreational cannabis industry. Since then, METRC has been adopted by a total of 15 states and the District of Columbia, including Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.
Although the company is not exclusively focused on the cannabis industry, it does dominate the company’s attention.
“Since cannabis legalization is really starting to gain momentum our focus has really been in perfecting and expanding our services and our software offerings to states that are bringing on more permissive cannabis policies,” said Koski.
Koski joined Metrc in 2019 after about two years of consulting work with Metrc and other operators in the cannabis industry as well as state governments in the process of legalizing medical or adult-use cannabis. Before that, he worked in state government, including three years in the Colorado Department of Revenue overseeing regulatory enforcement in that state’s casino and cannabis industries.
Although Metrc currently only offers state-level services, increased talks about legalizing cannabis on a national level could change the game for the Florida-based company.
“One thing that we focus on is trying to better understand how these changes might impact those state programs and whether or not those State programs would continue to continue to exist as they do now,” said Koski. “Seems as though like the conversation is geared more towards preserving those and I think a lot of the reasons for that is that the states have done a really good job by and large.”