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Cannabis Industry Patiently Awaits Cannabis Traceability Resolution

Respect My Region previously reported that LeafData would black out temporarily during its initial launch on Jan 1. That turned out to be incorrect because LeafData never launched and instead was delayed a second time.

LeafData’s newest projected release is February 1st.

It’s been over three months since the Washington State Liquor Cannabis Control Board (WSLCB ) gave MJ Freeway an estimated $3.1 million to replace Washington’s cannabis traceability system.  With little to show for it, the collective cannabis industry is frustrated.

Seed-To-Sale Traceability In Limbo

Some worry the WSLCB  is putting the entire industry at risk during a time when Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increased anti-cannabis rhetoric and rescinded federal marijuana protections, also known as the Cole Memo. Washington’s cannabis industry has generated over $2.9 billion dollars in total revenue since its inception. It’s created thousands of jobs and is funding numerous state programs such as law-enforcement, Medicaid, public health programs and cannabis research.

The WSLCB increased all producer/processor fees to pay for LeafData’s creation. An I-502 producer/processor who wishes to remain anonymous told Respect My Region their annual fee increased by 38 percent. Senate Bill 5130 came into effect on June 30, 2017, and increases licensee renewal fees until June 18, 2018.

MJ Freeway is the technology and data consulting company that built LeafData for Washington’s recreational cannabis industry. All cannabis products must be tracked from seed to sale. This means that each product has a strict chain of custody it must go through at each stop on it’s path to retailers. This helps the state prove to the federal government that product is staying out of the black market.

The Unified Contingency System

While MJ Freeway and the WLCB finish LeafData, there’s no state provided traceability system in place, but there is a contingency plan in effect. The WSLCB ’s contingency plan consists of manually filling out spreadsheets they generate. The amount of information required for traceability compliance is unrealistic to complete by hand. Some retailers don’t accept WSLCB  generated spreadsheets according to an anonymous I-502 producer/processor. This forces producer/processors to pay for the third-party contingency system.

BioTrackTHC launched the Unified Contingency System (UCS) to help licensees with data collection during this time. The UCS is a completely privatized clone of BioTrack’s traceability system. It was created with cooperation other third-party traceability software providers: WeedTraqr, Greenbits, GrowFlow, TraceWeed, MisterKraken, S2Solutions, and DopePlow. This allows licensees to conduct traceability work on BioTrackTHC without manually filling out spreadsheets. The data is collected and will be transferred to LeafData’s system when it’s ready.  BioTrackTHC is asking for a $50 monthly fee from all licensees using the UCS.

It’s important to note that BioTrackTHC is under no obligation from the WSLCB or anyone to operate the UCS.

Why BioTrack Bowed Out

BioTrackTHC held Washington’s previous traceability contract. They were replaced by MJ Freeway when they couldn’t come to terms with the state for a contract extension. BioTrackTHC’s CEO Peter Vo wasn’t confident in the newest bidding terms laid out by the WSLCB and pulled out. He wasn’t confident the newest contract followed the Cole Memo’s strict conditions, which could be detrimental to the entire industry.

Vo is speaking about the WSLCB ’s request that MJ Freeway allows for larger “lots” entered into the system. A “lot” is a labeled batch of flower that has been tracked through all its various production stages and is on its way to the retailer.

The Cole Memo allowed a five-pound lot limit. BioTrackTHC’s system wouldn’t allow you to enter lots into the system above five-pounds. The WSLCB  asked MJ Freeway to allow larger lot entries but with the  Cole Memo out of play, it’s possible this might not matter anymore.

When MJ Freeway was awarded Washington’s traceability contract, LeafData wasn’t built yet. A common practice in the technology industry is to build the platform after the contract is awarded. This allows MJ Freeway to build LeafData to the WSLCB’s exact specifications for the interface, tracking, alerts, audits, reports, etc., Jeannette Ward said. Ward is the Global Marketing & Communications Vice President for MJ Freeway.

The original rollout date of Oct. 1 was aggressive and “shorter and faster than any system had been rolled out,” Ward said.

MJ Freeway Deals With Data Security

The October 1st goal was set because it was the end date of BioTrackTHC’s contract. The WSLCB  delayed LeafData for further system tests. Around this time, Vo and WeedTraQR CEO David Busby conducted a personal investigation into a suspicious email sent from LeafData to several cannabis retailers. It contained information not publicly available and suggested that LeafData and MJ Freeway’s data security could have been compromised.

MJ Freeway was already dealing with security breachesservice outages and losing a Nevada contract in 2017, leading critics to question if MJ Freeway was capable enough to handle Washington’s traceability needs and if the WSLCB had made a mistake awarding them the contract.

The WSLCB  said the Washington State Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) assessed the security risks, but Vo says the WSLCB  declined to give him physical proof of OCIO’s check. The date was pushed back to January 1st and was set to allow for three months of additional testing, but that deadline was missed as well.

Industry  Prepares For LeafData Installation

According to Ward, the WSLCB  pushed back LeafData’s installation to February 1st so third-parties would have more time to integrate and licensees would have more time to train on LeafData. Ward also believes the lack of integration was due to lackadaisical licensees, not LeafData’s system stability. She says their system was ready to go, citing two successful integrations prior to the recent delay.

“Some people don’t do their homework until the night before,” Ward said.

GrowFlow representative Tom Wilson told Respect My Region the reason for the most recent delay was because LeafData, simply isn’t ready.

“There are around 30 outstanding bugs in the system, and the WSLCB  did not want to go live with such a buggy system,” Wilson wrote in an email.

If LeafData does go live on Feb. 1, there is a timeline of events that are supposed to happen. These events break ground for the LeafData installation. One of these events, known as a “code freeze,” was scheduled for January 14th and there isn’t sound proof that happened, per an anonymous I-502 producer/processor. This leads some to fear another delay is inevitable or the system will launch with unresolved bugs.

LeafData might only serve roughly one-fourth of licensees. Around 75 percent of licensees use a third-party traceability providers that are helping with the UCS. Critics argue I-502 producer/processors were forced to pay for LeafData when most won’t use it, to begin with, plus those who want to use it can’t because it isn’t operational.

Diego Pellicer is a Seattle cannabis retailer currently using the UCS but is planning on switching to LeafData when it launches. Jesse Leach is the General Manager and says the UCS is working fine, although it’s adding more work for the inventory crew.

Leach believes the WSLCB did their best when they were forced to scramble and find a new traceability suitor after their first option, Metrc, didn’t work out. Leach says Metrc bailed on the contract and forced the WSLCB to find a new suitor. An anonymous I-502 producer/processor says they and other producer/processors raised hell and forced the WSLCB to find something better than Metrc. The next closest bid was MJ Freeway.

At the end of the day, the industry is still trudging along. Several budtenders Respect My Region spoke to have no idea there is a traceability problem, to begin with. This means the UCS is working. But, the cannabis industry didn’t pay millions of dollars for a contingency plan, they paid for LeafData. The industry simply won’t know if LeafData will work properly until February 1st arrives, or if it will even arrive at all.

“We’re all just trying to get back to the way it was,” Leach said.

KushMart opened in November 2014 and has been a top-ranked recreational pot shop since day 1. We’re located at 6309 Evergreen Way STE C minutes off of Interstate 5. With ample parking, you will be in and out in no time and with our amazing selection and best prices you will have a smile on your face.

FOR MORE CANNABIS RECOMMENDATIONS,  STRAIN AND CANNABIS LEGALIZATION  INFORMATION, FOLLOW KUSHMART’S BLOG.

Jeff Sessions Attacks Cannabis Industry By Killing The Cole Memo

Last month Jeff Sessions and the GOP went after medical marijuana protections and now Sessions is putting the entire legal cannabis industry at risk. Sessions wrote a letter to all states saying the Cole Memorandum (Cole memo) is to be rescinded immediately. States are to follow the laws set forth by the Controlled Substance Act. Obama-era polices of noninterference pertaining to states marijuana laws are no longer in place.

What Is The Cole Memo?

The Cole memo is the document drafted by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole that was the binding set of regulations states recreational cannabis laws we’re to obey. As long as states were in 100 percent compliance with these laws, federal prosecutors would abstain from inference of cannabis related activities. States like Colorado have shown how serious they are about following the Cole memo’s rules. Last month the state raided 13 recreational dispensaries for state law violations. Colorado did this on its own accord with no prompting or help from DEA or any other federal agencies.

Jeff Sessions

Sessions didn’t outright tell federal prosecutors to go after cannabis businesses, but he removed the  leashes if any decide to do so themselves. In his letter Sessions mentions the finite resources they’re managing to prosecute marijuana cases, but to uphold federal law which still labels cannabis as a schedule-one drug. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of Massachusetts said his office would aggressively pursue cannabis related crimes but the states recreational marijuana law isn’t be addressed at this time. While Lelling seems to be lock-step with Sessions assessment that this is a “return to law,” most-everyone else seems to be unanimously against the move and are standing against Sessions and defending the Cole memo.

Another Trump Lie

Trump’s stance leading up to the 2017 election was to leave the states alone when it came to marijuana prosecution, a decision that held with President Obama and Attorney General Holder-era recommendations.

“I’m a states person, I think it should be up to the states,” Trump said.

Trump has been silent since Sessions rescinded the Cole memo. Trump hasn’t reigned in Session who’s been attacking cannabis since he took his attorney general position. Trump has not kept to his word on many things since he was elected, and the states cannabis rights is another entry on that long list of lies.

Defending The Cole Memo Against Jeff Sessions

Washington Governor Jay Inslee suggested the public stand firm and resist while Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said “we’re not messing around” in regards defending the Washington’s cannabis industry. Massachusetts Gov.  Charlie Baker, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer of the District of Colorado, Republican Senator Cory Gardner, Lt. Governor of California Gavin Newsome  and the Koch brothers are just some of the law makers and policy influencers that disagree with Sessions attack on the cannabis industry.

It’s well known that the war on drugs perpetuates racial stereotypes dealing with drug use and disproportionately effects black and brown neighborhoods, systematically ruining thousands of peoples lives. For Sessions to restart a drug war that’s wasted billions of tax dollars with no positive impact to show for it; is downright insulting to the critically thinking voters of this country. The majority of whom at minimum support medical cannabis if not complete legalization.

Cannabis needs to be further researched to fully understand its benefits and detriments, but it’s unanimously agreed that it’s safer than opioids, which is plaguing out country. It’s also safer than alcohol and tobacco; both are legal and regulated by the government despite having no medical usage whatsoever.

In Washington consumers have purchased $2.48 billion in cannabis, paid $223 million in sales tax $682 million in marijuana tax. That’s almost a $1 billion budget for Washington to fight Sessions decision. These numbers are as of Oct. 2017, according to 502data.

KushMart opened in November 2014 and has been a top-ranked recreational pot shop since day 1. We’re located at 6309 Evergreen Way STE C minutes off of Interstate 5. With ample parking, you will be in and out in no time and with our amazing selection and best prices you will have a smile on your face.

FOR MORE FOOD AND PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS AND LEMON MERINGUE STRAIN INFO, FOLLOW KUSHMART’S BLOG.

No Matter How Hard He Tries, Sessions Still Can’t Go After Medical Marijuana