Well, without getting political, we’d like to stay contemporary…
So, yes, one can debate the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana all day long. But this article by Doug McVay of Portland’s KBOO (among other credits) points out the fact that as marijuana becomes a sanctioned business, it also must comply with “States require(ing) constant monitoring and electronic access to data, what’s called ‘seed-to-sale’ tracking in order to prevent diversion of marijuana outside the regulated system”.
What is of particular interest to me comes towards the end of the article. McVay points out that two ERP systems have both experienced security breaches that have threatened their ability to remain valid in the industry.
It is yet another example of making sure that your ERP and CRM systems not only work well with your operating systems, but that they also are compliant with all the rules and regulations you might be operating under.
So, yes, our first post of the new year might be controversial. It’s also very educational.
MJ Freeway’s Seed-to-Sale Software Dilemma
Doug McVay, January 2, 2018
One of the biggest changes to hit the marijuana industry as it makes the transition from an illegal underground business to a legal, regulated one has to do with paperwork. In the old days, growers and dealers kept records in their heads, or as arcane scribbles on a notepad. Detailed records could put a person away in prison for a long time, because they were proof of ongoing illegal activity—what law enforcement refers to as a “continuing criminal enterprise.”
Under legalization and regulation, however, come record-keeping requirements. Notepads just won’t cut it anymore. States require constant monitoring and electronic access to data, what’s called “seed-to-sale” tracking in order to prevent diversion of marijuana outside the regulated system, so that they can be sure that they’re getting all the tax revenue due under the law. The means they use for this is an integral part of modern supply-chain management, from the manufacturing process all the way through wholesale and retail distribution: Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID.
In the marijuana industry, RFID chips are attached to each plant and to each container of product as it’s processed. Since the chips can’t weigh plants or bags yet, regulatory agencies mandate monitoring and video surveillance, and may make official inspections.
That brings us to a couple of more acronyms: ERP and CRM. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It’s software that integrates different applications for back-office operations, covering everything from manufacturing to administration, and are essentially databases and spreadsheets that also manage communications like email and messaging. CRM is Client (or Customer) Relationship Management. CRM software is also databases and spreadsheets, but used for front-office operations.
Because of seed-to-sale tracking, states are mandating that businesses in the marijuana industry use software that can provide both ERP and CRM. The companies producing that software, therefore, are doing a lot more than just providing RFID tracking chips. They’re developing programs for real-time monitoring, analysis and reporting, systems that rely on the Internet for communications as well as data storage.