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Track and Trace: Cannabis Industry Meets Big Data

Track and Trace: Cannabis Industry Meets Big Data

Originally Published on Lift

It’s official. Cannabis is America’s fastest growing industry and it’s just getting started. However, few realize the true challenges of transitioning a mature underground industry into a multi-billion dollar, legalized, regulated market. For years growers have been cultivating cannabis without the need to report, conduct quality control, or meet any consumer protection standards. That being said, the free market system prevails in underground economies, just like anywhere else, and over the years cultivators have perfected their craft to grow healthy, clean, and potent cannabis.

So, what’s the issue? Imagine doing something for years, perfecting your art, but operating largely illegally. Record keeping is probably not your number-one priority – in fact you are probably motivated to keep as few records as possible. Now that things have changed, you can finally legally do what you’ve been doing for years. But, there’s a catch – you now have to track everything. From the location of every plant to who purchased it (i.e., seed-to-sale). Not only that, but you need to do these things in a dynamic regulatory environment which continues to change, may be incomplete to begin with, and is quasi-legal depending if you are operating federally or regionally.

“Imagine doing something for years, perfecting your art, but operating largely illegally. Record keeping is probably not your number one priority – in fact you are probably motivated to keep as few records as possible.”

This seems overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with countless growers and dispensaries over the years, I’ve realized the one commonality among the leaders is obsession with data. The more you know about your operations, the better your crop and the more efficiency you can drive within your value chain. These growers integrate tracking and analytics as a core part of their business to the point where compliance becomes a byproduct. The key is to shift the mindset on tracking from solely a regulatory requirement to a source of competitive advantage. Cannabis seems to be the only billion-dollar industry where people want to capture the least amount of data possible. Given its history, I’m not sure I can blame them.

“The key is to shift the mindset on tracking from solely a regulatory requirement to a source of competitive advantage”

Advantages of Tracking Your Cannabis Grows

Still not convinced? Consider these examples of how tracking leads to competitive advantage:

Genetic Optimization: Over time, cannabis will become commoditized, so cultivators today are focusing more on tracking plant genetics, identifying contending mother plants and having the strongest genetics portfolio as a means to differentiate. Being able to seamlessly track genetics plant-by-plant as part of your overall cultivation process leads to competitive advantage

– Process Analysis: Tracking the amount of time your operators are spending on each task can help to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for process improvement. Integrating task-by-task workflows in your management software uncovers these opportunities, often large bottlenecks or a series of micro-improvements which lead to a significant overall competitive advantage.

Good Production Practices (GPP): Sophisticated cultivators have invested in building Good Production Practices (GPP), especially around quality control, and even more sophisticated cultivators have incorporated their processes in their software management system. Having this level of integration creates a culture of continuous improvement that leads to competitive advantage.

How to Track Your Cannabis Grows

Okay, you want to track your data, but how do you do it? Unfortunately, most cultivators lack the tools and technology to help manage an integrated tracking strategy. It’s not completely the growers’ fault, who have a selection of half-baked, rushed-to-market products that over-promise and under-deliver. Most seed-to-sale tracking solutions today are just that – very basic tracking software. What the industry really needs is an operational tool that happens to do tracking.

That’s exactly why we built Trellis, a cannabis management software that turns your compliant operating procedures into workflows, tracks your data, and outputs reports. Our customers can track as little or as much as they need, making Trellis the most dynamic and flexible system on the market. The largest benefit of using Trellis is in leveraging our best practices templates that were developed with leading licensed cultivators, giving you a blueprint for operating a compliant cannabis business.

The cannabis industry is finally coming into the age of big data, and our mission is to equip cultivators and dispensaries with the tools to integrate data into their business strategy. As a healthcare technology company, our ultimate focus is on helping patients get the best quality of care possible. We truly believe that data and technology are the keys to a better quality product and more efficient service. We want to partner with like-minded growers and dispensaries that are passionate about moving the industry forward.

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