Washington in December became the first state to launch its own seed-to-sale traceability system after opting not to renew the state’s contract with Akerna for Leaf Data Systems platform.
The new platform, called the Cannabis Central Reporting System, was designed and developed by the state to be a “revamped, simplified, data-reporting platform” and will be maintained by the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Third time’s a charm?
In the week after the new system’s launch, licensees complained about missing forms and confusion about working with their integrators to ensure that all compliance obligations were met. This is Washington’s third traceability system since launching the legal market in 2016 and many operators tried to plan ahead for a disruption at a time of the year that is often busy.
“I think since this is our third time with a traceability switch over, our expectations were pretty in line: oversell ahead of time, plan not to do any deliveries for two weeks after the switch, stay calm and the LCB and integrators will figure it out,” Trail Blazin’ Productions CEO Danielle Rosellison said in an email.
But according to Shawn DeNae, CEO of the Washington Bud Company and a board member of the Washington Sun & Craft Growers Association, one of the major issues at the launch was the lack of a common computer language for integrators to follow, something that echoed through the industry’s online forums.
“Without a standardized basis of reporting, communication breakdowns and inaccuracies with reporting will obviously ensue,” DeNae said in an email to Marijuana Venture.
DeNae also reported that automated uploads developed by integrators could not get past the CAPTCHA system in the state’s new log-in, essentially stopping any automation of the process and forcing operators to manually enter ever sale or purchase. She said the cost of an employee, at $15 per hour, to manually input all the company’s sales transfer data will cost Washington Bud Co. more than $5,000.
Micah Sherman, another board member of the Washingron Sun & Craft Growers Association, reported that while the system is “ostensibly working” there are still “quite a lot of bugs.” He also noted that many of the problems were predicted by members, but seemed to be ignored by the LCB in the roll-out process.
“It will take a number of weeks to get to the other side of this and return to some normalcy,” he said. “It could have been a lot better had they made more of an attempt to listen to and respond to feedback that they have been getting for months. But at this point we just need to push through and get to the other side.”
According to the state, the CCRS is simpler to use, more flexible and has the potential to lower the cost of compliance. The new system includes a list of 17 approved, third-party integrators that contains all of the major names in tracking software, including BioTrackTHC, Dauntless, Greenbits, GrowFlow, POSaBIT and others.
LCB spokesman Brian Smith characterized the Dec. 6 launch as “not perfect (none are) but successful.”
“Business has not been halted nor has the system been down since ‘go live,’” Smith said in an email.
Smith said most licensees successfully transitioned off Leaf during the first week of operation, and that the LCB would “continue to work with licensees and commercial integrators to address issues they may face during this transition.”
“Once onboard, we believe licensees will find reporting in CCRS far simpler and easier to remain compliant,” he said. “It will just take a little time to get there.”
The state hosted three free webinars in September and October and has issued a user guide on its website that includes instructions, technical assistance resources and contact information, though according to Smith, “very few licensees took that opportunity.”