STATEWIDE – Marijuana in Maine is going to be tracked from seed to sale, now that the state government entered into a three year contract with Metrc.
The software product uses radio-frequency identification tags to ensure growers and distributors are complying with state law.
The RFID chip would not go on each particular bud, but instead would be put on packaging.
The track and trace laws were passed by the state legislature.
A start date for the Metrc program has not been set.
It does not apply to home-growers, but it would be required for anyone engaging in commerce.
That could change how medical marijuana business is done, like at One Mill in Belfast.
The owner said right now, customers like to weigh out their own product, but with the tracking system, everything would have to be prepackaged.
“One of the perks we have here is that the customer knows exactly what they’re getting,” said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine and also the owner of One Mill. “They can look at it, they can smell it, we put gloves on, we put it in a package for them. We’re concerned that the RFID chips would prevent that farm to table experience.”
McCarrier said those in the industry are divided on the trackers.
“This is a like a necessary evil,” he said.
Metrc is already used in a dozen other states. In Maine, it would be monitored by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
Their staff said the trackers will help tax the industry, and assist in the recall process.
“If at any point in that process there is an issue where consumers are getting ill because of the product they’re consuming, we’re able to use this seed to sale tracking system to identify where every ounce of that oil from those products went,” said David Heidrich, Director of Communications for Maine’s Dept. of Administrative and Financial Services.
For the three year contract, the state will be footing the bill for $150,000. License holders will have to pay a $40 monthly fee, along with plant tag and packaging label fees.
Mill One’s owner said that might raise costs for patients, but hopefully a joint effort with the state will be a beneficial next step.
“This shows that the Mills administration is serious about implementing the will of the voters, and having the adult use cannabis program up and running,” said McCarrier.
The state will host an introductory program to Metrc in Augusta on April 11th, along with some road shows across the state.