Norman dispensaries look ahead to May deadline for seed-to-sale program compliance

Mar. 3—Medical marijuana businesses in the state are now on the clock to comply with requirements to use a uniform seed-to-sale tracking system on their products — a provision that’s yielded mixed reactions from Norman dispensers.

Metrc is a Florida-based inventory tracking system that functions as a seed to sale regulatory system. The businesses have until May 26th to comply with Metrc. Although April 30 was the initial deadline for compliance, a lawsuit brought by a Tulsa-based dispensary operator and Viridian Legal Services representing over 10,000 Oklahoma cannabis businesses, halted rollout.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and Metrc reached an agreement February 25, which allowed the system to move forward in just 90 days.

To detect diversion, enforcement agencies use data inconsistencies and Metric to identify it. According to the agency website, investigation by state agencies can be initiated if there are red flags.

District Judge Natalie Mai’s order states that dispensaries have until August 24 to legally dispose or sell untagged medical marijuana products from their inventories. The agency is required by law to hold at least five online seminars to educate licensees regarding the Metrc system before the May 26 deadline.

With a deadline approaching, some Norman dispensaries are already preparing for the change. They have a variety of opinions about Metric, from being happy with more regulation to being frustrated that Metric is not used within Oklahoma, keeping tax dollars out.

Tim Gaulden and Jessica Gaulden co-own Chronic Solutions, 1808W Lindsey St. They said Metrc will help enforce compliance and hopefully get rid off illegal operators.

Buzz Banfield, Vice President of Operations for Native Harvest dispensaries suspects that many dispensaries and farms are not in compliance with state law but have flown under radar.

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Banfield will soon open multiple Native Harvest locations in Edmond, Guthrie and other areas. He believes that the Metrc requirement will eliminate all competition by identifying repeat offenders and wilful offenders.

Banfield is certain that his business will be available for the May deadline.

“The OMMA could come in right now and we would be just fine,”Banfield stated. “We are fully compliant, and [stores] like us look forward to it.”

Gaulden stated that after everything has been updated, future product can be added to inventory by scanning the Metrc tag.

“Whenever we get products, it’s already tagged, so we just have to scan it into our system,”Gaulden said. “It can track everything.”

Gaulden also anticipates that tagging all products and building inventory in the system will take time and will increase operating costs.

“We don’t really care for that, but what else can you do?”He said.

Metrc charges $40 per month for a license. Each product tag costs 25 cents.

Proper Cannabis owner Taylor Lyon said that a seed-to–sale system protects patients’ quality of medicine.

Lyon stated that the Metrc requirement would eliminate some black market problems, much in the same way as Gaulden and Banfield. However, he said that the Metrc requirement was being forced on businesses operating in a free market.

“We didn’t take all the tax money we generated to create our own in-house seed-to-sale system,”Lyon stated. “We need to have our own system, where the money we spend on Metric tags and the monthly cost associated with the platform are going back to our state, not going to an out of state company in Florida that doesn’t pay Oklahoma taxes.”

Jeff Elkins writes about business, living and community stories at The Transcript. Reach him at [email protected] or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.

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