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As of February 24, 2016, we joined a majority of the countries in the world that have legalized the use, production, and distribution of medical cannabis. And quite honestly, it’s been a good run. The cannabis production and distribution industry is doing pretty well, and the government is reaping substantial taxes from the industry.

That being said, there’s still a bone of contention that needs to be addressed: the need for cannabis tracking at different levels of the cannabis supply chain. Regulators prefer a plant tracking model. But the industry sees this model as being restrictive and too cumbersome to manage. As such, they are pushing for a batch model.

This back and forth has been going on for some time now. And quite honestly, it’s time we came up with a reasonable conclusion. In this article, we’re going to evaluate both models. We’ll look at the processes involved and the benefits and limitations of each model to see if we can come up with a reasonable conclusion. 

But first, let’s take a look at each model independently.

Per Batch Tracking

There’s so much fuss around it, but what exactly does per batch tracking mean? In most policies we’ve come across, a batch is simply defined as a group of plants growing together in the same conditions. Other operators define it as a group of genetically identical plants grown together in the same conditions.

Therefore, per batch tracking is the process of keeping a record of a batch of plants and their yield. Regulators need this level of traceability to keep up with all the cannabis being produced before it gets to circulation.

In this system, once a batch of plants is harvested, the flowers are grouped into a homogeneous collective group called a lot. At this point, the plants can no longer be distinguished, which begs the question, do regulators really need to track each pant when they already have the quantity and quality of each batch on record?

Major players in the industry with that mindset see this tracking method as the most convenient and effective. 

Per Plant Tracking

Per Plant Tracking

Per plant tracking simply means keeping a record of each plant. In this method, each plant is tagged with a unique barcode. The plants that reach maturity are recorded, while those that don’t are destroyed, and their quantity is kept on record.

Although this tracking method seems like a hassle, it provides some major perks for cannabis cultivators. For example, by keeping records and tracking each plant right from planting to harvesting, cultivators are better able to gather granular data, which comes in handy in optimizing both current and future crops.

As a cultivator, having the ability to keep track of each clone, right from the moment it was cut from its mother plant to when it matures, can help you optimize your nurseries better.

Moreover, taking individual plants to their location in the field enables you to identify the areas in your field that have the highest yields and those that need further conditioning. 

And that’s not all. You might be familiar with pests and pesticides, but that knowledge only gets you far as long as you use it correctly. Now, imagine having the ability to track those treatments per plant. This tracking method can help you with your entire crop by attacking each problem with absolute precision and effectiveness. 

The bottom line is that the level of insight achieved through per plant tracking can yield significant improvements, both in yield and quality of cannabis flower.

Does Either System Really Matter?

Well, if we’re talking about cannabis compliance issues, they both do. That being said, you should have a choice to choose which system you want to adopt. Luckily, there is cannabis tracking software out there that can enable you to adopt either tracking system, depending on your state’s regulations.

Take Parsl, for example. This intricate system is flexible enough to accommodate both seed-to-sale tracking methods. When you create a batch in the system, you have the option to print a barcode identifying individual plants or a group of plants. That way, you can perform any required action by triggering either the plant or barcode.

Say, for example, you want to destroy a group of plants. In that case, all you have to do is scan the barcodes of the individual plants and enter the number of plants you’ve destroyed. Alternatively, you can destroy your cannabis plants by sequentially scanning each individual plant tag, thus reducing the number of plants registered in the system. Either way, you’ll get the same results in a fairly reasonable amount of time.

Why Do We Need Seed-to-sale Tracking Systems in Place?

It all comes down to compliance. The legality of cannabis presents excellent opportunities for growth in the cannabis industry. But with opportunity comes responsibility. The regulatory authorities have implemented strict regulatory requirements that require seed-to-sale tracking systems throughout the cannabis supply chain. But how does this tracking software benefit you as the cultivator or distributor?

Why Do We Need Seed-to-sale Tracking Systems in Place

Inventory Management

The cannabis supply chain is nothing short of complicated. Both cultivators and cannabis dispensary owners need an accurate and up to date inventory management system to keep track of their inventory.

Simplify Data Reporting and Compliance

This is basically the holy grail when it comes to cannabis reporting requirements. If your staff requires to enter inventory and report data manually, then you have a serious problem on your hands. With marijuana tracking software, you get templates and other reporting options that enable you to eliminate unintended errors whilst simplifying data entry for Metrc and other state-mandated reporting requirements.

Cost Analysis

Despite the substantial profits involved, running a cannabis business is an expensive endeavour. Having dispensary software or any other cannabis-specific accounting software can help you get a full picture of where your money is going, thus enabling you to manage it better.

The Bottom Line

The cannabis industry is still pretty young, but it’s growing tremendously. And although the compliance requirements set forth by the regulatory bodies might seem restrictive, the benefits they offer far outweigh their limitations.