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Marijuana Tracking Chips Introduced to Oregon

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Last year, Oregon made a monumental move towards ending cannabis prohibition by becoming the fourth state to legalize marijuana production and sales for recreational adult use.

Currently, adults are able purchase recreational marijuana from a store but all cannabis on the market is currently produced and processed under Oregon’s medical marijuana system. On April 29, the transition from medical grows to recreational grows will begin as the state releases production licenses under the more regulated and transparent recreational laws.

For the last few months, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have been looking to already-legal states such as Washington and Colorado to figure out the proper procedures for this budding industry. Seed-to-Sale tracking systems are becoming more popular as statewide operating procedures based on traceability are being developed.

Use of Seed-to-Sale tracking allows the state to check in on cannabis cultivators, at any time, to make sure they are compliant with state laws. The tracking system also ensures a digital record is kept of all plants grown and sold. Essentially, the implementation of a tracking system gives the state confidence that no cannabis product ends up in the ‘black market’.

Recently Oregon chose one of the many Seed-to-Sale tracking systems on the market, and they decided to use same system as Colorado and Alaska, called Metrc. The Metrc system uses RFID – radio frequency identification- to track plants and products from conception to final sale.

KGW reports that the State of Oregon spent $ 1.6 million for this universal tracking system. They’ll earn their money back slowly but surely as the service fee for Metrc is included in the annual licensing fee that tier 1 and tier 2 producers are required to pay to the state. 

The tracking process begins as soon as a seed is popped or a clone is taken. Metrc’s yellow tag, that contains a serial-numbered chip scannable by RFID, is placed into the soil for the first stage of the plant’s life. As the plant grows larger, the tag is then tied to a branch where it stays until the plant reaches maturity. The chip must follow the plant through harvesting and drying, through the states required pesticide and mold testing, all the way until it is a packaged product delivered to retail. Once the plant is harvested and becomes saleable product, a blue RFID card is used to track the batch to insure consumer safety.

In Southern Oregon, Charlie Cassidy of TKO Reserve, specializes in organic and sustainably grown cannabis. He says seed-to-sale tracking ensures that customers are purchasing a safe and clean product, “In an unregulated system, you can do whatever you want basically, it’s up to the growers to be ethical in their use of pesticides and synthetic nutrients.” It’s only through a RFID traceability system like this that growers can be held accountable for their products containing harmful chemicals. In  the event that a contaminated product makes its way on shelves, Metrc and the State of Oregon flags, locks and recalls the product.

Three out of the four recreationally legal states have chosen to implement the Metrc system statewide. Washington, while it requires seed-to-sale tracking, leaves the decision of which tracking system to use up to the producers and processors. Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have chosen one system with hope to provide uniformity across the state.


Photo courtesy of Metrc.

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