As cannabis acceptance and legality spread across America, states are seeing increased tax revenues, while American adults have access to safe, legal and regulated products, including potential treatments for numerous ailments. However, there are health and societal risks involved with cannabis use, though more research is needed. How are states and cannabis operators working together to ensure safety and compliance? Metrc, a cannabis track and trace platform, allows easy regulation, reporting and business system integration, ensuring a safe and profitable market.
Current State of the Legal American Cannabis
According to Bloomberg, “changes in state laws since 1996 have given 74% of the US population access to some form of legal cannabis.” Though the DEA considers marijuana a Schedule I drug (“no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” like heroin, LSD, and ecstasy), the FDA currently approves cannabis for three conditions: tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS). Bucking the feds, 37 states allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for ailments including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea or vomiting caused by cancer treatment
In addition to medical use, 18 states allow adult-use recreational weed, supporting a $15 billion industry in 2021, expected to surpass $25 billion by 2025. By large majorities, Americans believe cannabis should be legal for medical and recreational use, while minorities support continued criminalization. Marijuana Moment reports that recreational cannabis generated almost $4 billion in 2021 tax revenue among legal states, “a 34 percent increase compared to [cannabis tax] revenue … in 2020.” Importantly, research indicates no increased underaged first-time cannabis use or higher crime rates.
However, widespread cannabis popularity and use run risks of “negative and long-term effects” for increasingly larger populations exposed to legal weed. These risks include permanently reduced IQ points, potential mental health issues including depression, anxiety and suicide ideation, decreased athletic performance, intoxicated drivers and possible fetal and baby health concerns.
Track & Trace
State regulators rely on accurate reporting from cannabis producers, labs and retailers to ensure that:
- Consumers receive safe cannabis products
- Law enforcement can keep weed away from minors
- Labs for cannabis testing have easily accessible records
- Taxes are recorded and collected
- Recalls are fast and accurate
Cannabis operators and growers rely on accurate tracking and tracing systems to:
- Simplify and streamline regulatory compliance
- Optimize inspection, auditing, and reporting
- Easily integrate and exchange data with inventory and logistics management, point of sale (POS) systems, accounting and business programs, etc.
Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement, Tracking, Reporting & Compliance) was “designed for government agencies regulating legalized marijuana.” Utilizing cloud-based software and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, “licensed users upload and report every action impacting the status of a plant or the creation of cannabis-based products. When plants are harvested and packaged or combined with other plants in the production of oils, edibles, or concentrates, the origin, testing results, handling, and chain-of-custody information is visible and traceable by regulators.”
Metrc’s main features include:
- Strict security of regulated cannabis markets
- Streamlined product recall procedures
- Chain of custody (CoC) documentation
- Proper tax revenue accounting
- Eased inspection, auditing, and reporting
“Metrc serves more than 300,000 users, including growers, manufacturers, testing facilities, transport providers, dispensaries, state regulators, and law enforcement officials across 19 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.”
With any drug or intoxicant, consumer education and strict product regulation is necessary for safe and legal use. Americans want legal cannabis products and states crave tax revenues from cannabis sales. Track and trace systems like Metrc allow regulators compliance and accurate tax collection, cannabis operators higher profits and decreased liability and consumers transparency and safety.
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