Metrc 101: How to Keep Your Dispensary Compliant

Metrc tag with a cannabis plant

As more states join the legal cannabis industry, many are implementing Metrc as their state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

This is a Metrc 101 guide for dispensary owners and staff, including how Metrc works, why Metrc compliance matters, explaining Metrc package tags, getting started with Metrc, and how to track events in Metrc.

Disclaimer: This is not official Metrc training. See for state-specific training requirements and Metrc user guides.

What is Metrc?

Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) is a web-based, state-mandated software platform developed by Franwell for end-to-end tracking of the cannabis supply chain, from seed to sale. This includes the production, manufacturing, testing, distributing, and selling of cannabis products.

To date, cannabis businesses across the U.S. have logged over 5 billion events in Metrc.

Metrc plant tags

According to Franwell, Metrc was designed “to create safety and transparency for consumers in the cannabis industry.” Each state has slightly different system requirements to satisfy their unique regulations. The purpose is to provide transactional and inventory data to state regulators.

Metrc is the source of truth for all tracked events, but in order to streamline dispensary operations, you’ll need an API to your Metrc-compatible dispensary software to manage your day-to-day operations.

Which states use Metrc?

Why does Metrc compliance matter?

Enforcement agencies use data inconsistencies in Metrc to detect diversion, purchase limit violations, unaccounted products, and compliance violations. If these red flags are severe enough, they may spur an investigation that could lead to shutting down operations and/or hefty fines.

Every licensed cannabis business in a Metrc state has specific regulatory requirements for reporting inventory and sales.

You are responsible for meeting these regulatory reporting requirements with 100% accuracy.

In California, for example, fines may equal up to 50% of your average daily sale amount, multiplied by the number of days of suspension. The average suspension time for a Tier 1 offense is 7 days. If your store transacts an average of $5,000 in revenue per day, you’re looking at a $17,500 fine, not to mention lost revenue from being closed.

But fines and closures only happen when dispensaries aren’t diligent in their cannabis compliance. Metrc is a useful tool to maintain compliance in the cannabis industry and it has a proven track record of success.

Understanding Metrc tags

Metrc tracks your cannabis plants and products with Radio Identification Tags or RFID tags. The tags are not reusable, so every package and plant has its own unique identifier.

There are two types of Metrc tags: Plant and Package.

Metrc plant tags

Metrc plant tags have the facility name, license number, application identifier (whether for medical or recreational use), tag order date, and unique plant identification number.

Metrc medical marijuana plant tag
Metrc recreational marijuana plant tag

Recreational marijuana plant tags are blue; medical marijuana plant tags are yellow.

Metrc package tags

Metrc package tags are the physical sticker on every package. Instead of using a plant number, they are each given a 24-digit package number. Every package has only one type of product in it.

Metrc tag cost

Metrc tags cost anywhere from $.25 to $.45 a tag. For a facility that has 50,000 plants, this equals over $22,000 just for plant tags and that’s not including the tags needed for packaging. If you have a larger operation your costs could be anywhere from $5,400 to $30,000 in plant tags alone.

Package tags are purchased directly from Metrc. To place an order, authorized users can log into Metrc and go to Admin > Tag Orders > New Tag Order, enter the required details and click Place Order.

Metrc tags aren’t cheap, so be sure to properly attach them to plants and packages to avoid waste. Also, make sure you don’t run out of tags or you won’t be able to package or transfer any new material.

Lifecycle of the Metrc Plant Tag

Metrc compliance chart

Metrc tracks cannabis plants via Metrc Plant Tags from the moment they are planted to the moment they are transferred to a dispensary. Here is what the lifecycle of a Metrc Plant Tag looks like:

  1. Cuttings, seedlings, or clones are grouped and identified as an immature batch and receive a Metrc plant tag from cultivators.

  2. An immature plant becomes a vegging plant when the plant is larger than what the state regulations mandate (in some states it’s 8” in others it’s 24”).

  3. The plant tag follows a specific plant through the flowering process.

  4. The plant is mature enough to be grouped into a harvest batch.

  5. From there, you can package your cannabis product and attach Metrc package tags.

  6. A product may have its Metrc tag changed multiple times before the product reaches a dispensing facility, but all changes must be reflected to state regulators through Metrc.

Getting started with Metrc

If you are in a new legal state using Metrc, or have a new dispensary opening in a Metrc state, here are the basic steps to get started:

  • All employees need to register with Metrc and complete training.

  • Make sure your Metrc API key and license are integrated with your POS system. To find your API key, log into Metrc and look in the top right corner under “API keys.”

  • Purchase your plant and/or package tags from Metrc.

  • Log into Metrc and start setting up products and confirming tag assignments.

  • Log into your dispensary point of sale and start receiving your newly tagged inventory.

Once you're all set up, you'll need to ensure ongoing compliance between your physical, POS, and Metrc inventories (keep reading for more on this).

    How to track events in Metrc

    Metrc is the recordkeeper of all activities occurring in your facility. Metrc records employees, all plants, changes in rooms or growth phases, inventory transfers, activities within a package tag, waste records, user activities, date and time of activities, sales, processing activities, and repackaging.

    Everything that is recorded in Metrc cannot be deleted. If you make a mistake, you cannot erase it, but you can make adjustments and corrections.

    Most of these activities can be found in the package tag drop-down in your Metrc account.

    Metrc dropdown

    Be careful about red-flag activities within Metrc that could lead to an investigation or audit from state regulators, such as:

    • Having inventory packages with quantities that don’t match your physical inventory

    • Processing sales that take packages into the negative

    • Missing days of sales

    • Making a large number of arbitrary or improper adjustments in your Metrc recordkeeper

    Reporting sales to Metrc

    Now that you understand what Metrc is and why it’s imperative to use it correctly, the question becomes:

    How do I avoid fines and keep my dispensary compliant?

    Some states mandate that sales are reported as they happen in real time. If this is a cannabis compliance requirement in your market, Flowhub has built-in, live-sync functionality that automatically reports each sale to Metrc after the transaction is complete.

    If live sales reporting is not required by your state, there are three different ways that a medical or adult-use cannabis dispensary can send daily compliance reports from their point of sale to Metrc:

    1. Report to Metrc manually

    2. Report to Metrc automatically after each sales transaction

    3. Report to Metrc via controlled API push

    For details about the pros and cons of each of the above reporting practices, consult this post on Metrc Reporting.

    Metrc discrepancies

    Once you’re up and running with Metrc, one of the most common, time consuming issues you will run into is a Metrc discrepancy.

    Metrc discrepancies generally occur when your physical inventory, point of sale (POS) inventory, and Metrc account are not aligned.

    Common Metrc discrepancy types include:

    1. ‘Quantity Discrepancy’

    2. ‘Active Package Not in Flowhub’

    3. ‘Not Found in Metrc’

    4. ‘Unit of Measure’

    5. ‘Multiple Skus’

    Previously, retailers had to follow a time-consuming and inefficient process to reconcile Metrc discrepancies. This involved generating a report in the POS, verifying the physical count in the store, cross-checking the information in Metrc, and then updating the incorrect system.

    Now there's an easier way!

    Flowhub’s in-app Metrc Discrepancy Management workflow enables dispensaries to resolve Metrc discrepancies directly within the point of sale with full transparency and control over data in both systems — saving you countless hours.

    Here's a quick demo of how it works:

    Metrc reliability

    Sometimes Metrc is disrupted, slow, or goes down altogether. Even in this situation, it's still your responsibility to report to the state each day.

    This is why it’s important to have a point of sale partner with functionality to compliantly record sales and import inventory even when Metrc is down. Then, you can bulk push your sales data to Metrc.

    Most importantly, maintaining full control over your Metrc integration and when/how you report to Metrc is key for the functionality of your dispensary. It’s highly recommended to avoid working with a POS partner that takes control of your data and “automates” Metrc processes for you.

    Metrc Reporting: Cannabis Point of Sale Best Practices

    Maui makes Metrc easy

    Metrc compliance takes time and effort, but it is required. Your entire staff must fully commit to ensure you're following all regulatory guidelines of your state.

    Keeping your data accurate between the physical, POS, and Metrc worlds involves careful workflows. This is why we created Flowhub Maui, the most efficient cannabis inventory management solution available. Maui streamlines Metrc discrepancy management, simplifies package management, and empowers retailers to own and control their own data at all times.

    To learn how Flowhub Maui can save your business countless hours and thousands of dollars, schedule a demo today!

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    Ryan Budny

    Product Manager at Flowhub

    Ryan is a Product Manager at Flowhub who has been with the company since the very beginning. As a software engineer at Flowhub starting in early 2015, Ryan designed and wrote the code for Flowhub's first Metrc API integration and was a lead engineer on many core features in Flowhub's original point of sale system. He has extensive experience grappling with the various scenarios that can arise between a POS system and Metrc. Ryan went on to lead the Maui project to rebuild the Flowhub system, incorporating learnings from his previous 7 years of industry experience.

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