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California was the first state to decriminalise cannabis for medicinal reasons. It initiated a trend that appeared unimaginable at that time. Today, over 30 states have made weed legal, either for medicinal or recreational use. And more states are proactively joining the bandwagon.

With the legalisation of marijuana in most U.S. states, many people are rushing to make investments in the industry. The truth is that making inroads in the legal cannabis industry is incredibly profitable. In fact, as of 2018, cannabis sales revenue in the region was $10 billion, and it is expected to triple by 2023.

So, it is natural that entrepreneurs would want a slice of the cannabis business pie. However, the journey to starting a dispensary is not entirely a smooth ride. There are several challenges that you must navigate to emerge successfully. One of these is cannabis tracking from seed to sale. Read on for further insight.

What Is Cannabis Tracking?

The continued legalisation of marijuana has brought with it strict compliance regulations. While law and regulations may vary from one state to another, all licenced dispensaries must comply with seed-to-sale tracking. They should comply with testing regulations as well. We have moved from the days when consumers would buy weed in the dark world and not have any information about the product’s origins.

Hence, cannabis dispensaries must have a record of every product in their inventory. From when it is supplied by a distributor, sold to the customer, recalled, or disposed of after its sale due date. These captured records and transactions must be forwarded to the state’s designated tracking system at the end of a day’s business.

For this reason, Cannabusinesses have no option but to invest in a weed tracking system as part of the new marijuana marketplace requirements. Without it, you can say goodbye to compliance, and, ultimately, the Cannabusiness.

As the name implies, cannabis tracking means that cannabis-infused products are tracked across the entire supply chain. It begins from seeding through planting and harvesting. Then production, testing, packaging, and sale at licenced weed dispensaries.

How Does Cannabis Tracking Work?

At first glance, it may seem impossible for a dispensary to track the entire life-cycle of marijuana, starting from the seed  until it becomes a product on the dispensary shelves. Well, it is very simple, actually. Tags or labels featuring unique identifiers are attached to the containers holding the seeds.

As the weed plants go through the growth stages up to the flowering phase, the tags are dangled onto the respective weed plants. That way, the tags with the identifiers stay with the plant throughout the entire supply chain.

After the flowering stage, the flower buds are harvested and processed. They can be made into edibles, tinctures, topicals, vape oils, or other weed products. Yet, the code remains with it, thus ensuring the tracking chain remains intact.

By simply scanning the tags on each product, dispensaries can trace a product all the way back to the seedling stage.

Importance of Cannabis Traceability Importance of Cannabis Traceability

Safety Standards

Cannabis tracking sets up safety standards for everybody involved in the entire cannabis supply chain, from growers and producers to dispensary owners. This significantly lowers the risk of illicit and unsafe weed products ending up in the consumer’s hands. Ultimately, the consumer is purchasing tested, quality weed-infused products. This ensures that they do trust what they are consuming.

Safety compliance is crucial in attracting more weed consumers to your dispensary, which ultimately leads to increased revenue. This is welcomed news for everyone linked to the modern weed marketplace.


Product recalls are to be expected despite the stringent safety standards. Basically, a recall is when a weed product is considered harmful and eliminated from the market. Of course, recalls are damaging to the reputation of a cannabis dispensary and their profit margins. They can also affect an entire product batch.

Thanks to seed-to-sale tracking controls, you can quickly point out all products that have been contaminated. You can also recognise a defective batch. All you need to do is scan the respective barcodes on the products. This allows you to trace them back to the point where they became compromised along the supply chain.


Almost all commercial products must contend with regulatory challenges. Marijuana is no exception. Cannabis tracking is a requirement in most states. It will help you stay compliant with state regulations and keep regulators at bay.

Government regulators aim to eliminate illicit marijuana sales and off-the-book sales. These regulations may seem like an unwelcome impediment for the cannabis marketplace that was initially unregulated and based on privacy. However, they are crucial to integrating the weed industry into mainstream business sectors.

Big Data

Big data is incredibly valuable to dispensaries. Thanks to cannabis tracking, you can harness data on inventory management to boost your sales.

For example, cannabis consumers are always keen on knowing where their product is sourced from and the safety testing procedures involved. You can furnish them with this information based on the data reports generated by the tracking system. This may prove to be a marketing masterstroke, leading to better sales.

Introducing a Cannabis Tracking System at Your Dispensary Introducing a Cannabis Tracking System at Your Dispensary

Dispensaries have no choice when it comes to the reporting system specified by the state. However, they have the freedom to decide which cannabis tracking software to use internally to trace, manage, and report product sales data. So, which tracking system should you go for?

Given that cannabis tracking is a requirement in some states, there has been an increase in seed-to-sale software merchants who allege to give you all the tracking solutions under one roof. The truth is you do not need a single software solution to trace the lifecycle of your weed products and send accurate reports to your state’s tracking system.

Instead, you can pick dedicated software specifically designed for each licence type based on your market, including:

  • Growers.
  • Manufacturers.
  • Processors.
  • Distributors.
  • Resting.
  • Retailers/dispensary.

Reasons Why an All-In-One Seed-to-Sale Software Is Not the Best Option

  • Diluted Features: Seed-to-sale vendors allege a single solution for your dispensary tracking needs. In reality, the cannabis industry is extremely vast and intricate for one solution to guarantee complete success in every aspect of supply chain management. Some tracking software, for example, may do well in cultivation and processing. However, they fall short on other crucial aspects, such, point-of-sale (POS) tracking.
  • Variable Cost: Seed-to-sale software is designed to address every likely need in your Cannabusiness. So, you are likely to pay for features you may end up not using.
  • Slow Innovation: Slow software updates may put you in a situation where you are stuck with out-of-date, monolithic solutions. This narrow focus may affect the ability of your dispensary to adapt to the evolving cannabis landscape. For this reason, you may end up seeking alternative manual workarounds. This will ultimately affect your business’s ability to be efficient, innovative, and nimble.
  • Greater Risk: With an all-in-one tool, you are literally putting everything in one basket. This is because flaws in one part may affect the entire suite. Moreover, you may have to wait for the vendor to release new features and versions to match your business’s needs. Plus, you may not want to get stuck in a long-term contract.

Seed-to-Sale Software Better Alternative: Best-of-breed Approach

Savvy cannabis dispensaries are opting for a fresh, more agile strategy for software procurement. Instead of buying an all-in-one system solution that promises to do everything, they are picking the best individual software for a particular need in each section of the business. Then, they connect them together to form an integrated system. This is called the best-of-breed approach.

For example, you may opt to get cannabis distribution software from one merchant. And buy a POS system or manufacturing solution from another vendor based on your individual needs and pricing constraints.

An integrated system allows you to incorporate more partners who are successful in their respective niches, like:

  • Customer loyalty programs.
  • Cannabis ERM software.
  • CRM.
  • Dispensaries.
  • HR providers.

Why Go for Best-of-breed Approach

At first thought, you may think a best-of-breed approach appears complicated. This is because it requires you to work with several software vendors who have their respective ways of working and billing. But when implemented successfully, marijuana dispensaries can pack the best software into a single integrated system. Here’s why you should opt for an integrated system.

Flexibility to Pick the Best Software for the Task at Hand

By adopting the best-of-breed approach, you enjoy the freedom to work with the best solutions in each section of the cannabis supply chain management. For example, you get to hand-pick a customised tool for cultivation and production that does precisely what you need.

Rapid Innovation

Best-of-breed software is often built on the latest technology. Generally, they are super focused on being a master of one thing. They also adapt rapidly to cannabis marketplace requirements. As a dispensary owner, you can expect frequent software updates, plus new, extensive features and functionality from a full suite solution.

Quick ROI

Typically, best-of-breed software boasts user-friendliness, meaning they are easier to learn and use from a user’s perspective. Plus, they have quick implementation schedules at reduced costs than seed-to-sale systems. Thus, small dispensaries that lack big budgets or time to train personnel can quickly adopt them for real-time results.


The keystone of best-of-breed software is open API architectures. This means that they can easily be integrated with other systems to form an integrated system. This seamless integration allows an automated information flow. It also eliminates manual data entry in your dispensary operations.

Besides saving you time and money, an integrated system also minimises the possibility of human error. This is especially when transferring data from your POS system into the state’s system. An inadvertent manual reporting error could result in a compliance violation. Thus, attracting hefty fines and even revocation of your cannabis retailer licence.

Lower Risk Lower Risk

You are opening a cannabis dispensary, so you are at the start-up stage. This means your long-term prospects remain unknown. If you use the seed-to-sale system in your tracking operations and it crashes for some time, your dispensary will be at serious risk. By contrast, the freedom to add specific software at a time will help lower overall costs and reduce risk.

Real-time Reporting Capabilities

Without an integrated system, you may be forced to adopt manual record-keeping and There are several challenges that you must navigate to emerge successful. One of these is cannabis tracking from seed to sale reporting. If your dispensary is in a state that insists on daily reporting, you will need to extract all the sales information from your point-of-sale system. And then manually enter them into the state’s system at the end of business every day. This may be very cumbersome.

By using best-of-breed solutions that link with the state’s tracking system, you eradicate the challenge of manual reporting. This is because each transaction is captured in your internal records plus that of the state’s system. All this happens in real-time.

Tighter Security

Picking a product suite from one vendor is a massive commitment. In fact, dispensaries following this route face the risk of ending up with a system that becomes outdated quickly. Opting for best-of-breed technology guarantees that upgrades, patches, and extra security improvements can be made to the integrated tracking system without hindering larger workflows.

The Bottom Line

With the cannabis legalisation green rush comes the strict cannabis tracking requirements. This allows regulators to supervise legalised weed products across the entire supply chain. Whether the product is sold as CBD oil, edible, or topical, it must have a traceable trail from seed to sale.

Dispensary owners are faced with this key question: Whether to pick an all-in-one software or best-of-breed software for cannabis tracking. While seed-to-sale platforms are touted as the jack of all trades, they may end up being masters of none. This is why it is better to adopt an integrated system comprising the best software for each step in the lifecycle of the weed plant.