by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish |
Many months ago, OMMA announced that it had awarded METRC its seed-to-sale contract. Now, implementation is in full swing, with initial training and credentialing classes available and completion required by March 26, 2021. Notably, OMMA also has announced that it will require beginning inventory to be completely reported into METRC by April 30, 2021. Perhaps this spring’s million-dollar question in Oklahoma is, “What does METRC mean for OMMA commercial business licensees?”.
What is METRC?
METRC is a privately owned track-and-trace system that depends on 1) physical, proprietary RFID tags that must be purchased only from METRC, and 2) METRC’s online, cloudbased software. This software requires an internet connection and computer for access, and supports an open “Application Programming Interface” (“API”) that allows licensees to use METRC with any third-party point of sale systems (“POS”) that have the appropriate API to integrate with METRC. However, such a third-party POS is not required, because a licensee can input its sales data into METRC directly, if they so desire.
METRC’s implementation by OMMA is not for the benefit businesses or patients. Instead, the METRC system benefits the governmental agency who has contracted with it—here, OMMA. METRC offers online training, inventory and lab testing guides, and an Oklahoma-specific supplemental guide. METRC’s website states that it has provided track-and-trace solutions for 13 other states and the District of Columbia. Thus, while it is not in use by all medical (or adult-use) programs, it certainly has a significant stake in the market share.
METRC charges licensees $40 per month, per license, as a reporting fee to access the platform and for ongoing support, maintenance, training, and the like. In addition, METRC’s proprietary RFID tags are 45 cents per plant tag and 25 cents per package tag. These tags are not interchangeable or reusable. They contain barcodes and chips that uniquely identify each plant and package, as the case may be, operating like serial numbers for each plant. These RFID tags must be read with an RFID tag reader. Here in Oklahoma, where we have only a medical system, the tags will be yellow. Blue tags are used for adult-use/recreational systems. Users must manually enter additional information, including weight, custody transfers, and test results into the METRC system. All information is only available to each specific licensee and to OMMA.
OMMA requires all licensees—those currently operating and those with commercial business licenses that are not currently operating—to complete METRC training and credentialing classes. METRC began offering daily training classes for employees on March 1, 2021, and all METRC training and subsequent credentialing of businesses into OMMA licensees’ user accounts must be completed by March 26, 2021.
After completion of the training and credentialing, then licensees will have access to a Beginning Inventory Guide, which provides the information necessary for licensees to enter their initial plant and/or package inventories into METRC’s system. Given the short time fuse on full integration requirements mandated by OMMA, licensees should complete their METRC training and credentialing, and review the Beginning Inventory Guide as soon as possible.
Impact on Licensees
OMMA requires all commercial business licensees to enter and report their beginning inventory into METRC by April 30, 2021. What does this mean, exactly? On April 30, 2021, the beginning inventory period for METRC closes and OMMA commercial business licensees who are actually operating must report all inventory transactions to, and into, METRC. In other words, the last monthly report OMMA commercial business licensees (who are actually operating) will submit to OMMA will be the April 2021 report, which will be filed by licensees in May 2021. However, OMMA licensees who are not actually operating will continue their filing of “zero inventory” monthly reports with OMMA.
Every licensee must have a designated “METRC Administrator” in the METRC system, to complete the credentialing process. The METRC Administrator must be an owner or a designated manager of the OMMA licensee, and must complete METRC’s new business training course, which is provided in a webinar-format at this time. OMMA has advised that advanced training classes will become available in the future, and will be tailored for administrators according to license type. Licensees should select the METRC Administrator with great care, given that these persons will have complete access to, and control over, the licensee’s governmental reporting system. Any missteps or sabotage by a disgruntled employee could prove fatal to the licensee’s compliance and could likely result in fines or loss of the license.
While OMMA has not overtly stated this, it is axiomatic that METRC will lock down genetics statewide. What does this mean? As of April 30, 2021, no out-of-state genetics will be considered acceptable under OMMA standards and Oklahoma law. While the issue of out-of-state seeds has arguably remained somewhat of a gray area, METRC’s implementation transforms the gray to a clear black and white. OMMA’s statewide track and trace system will easily flag any seeds that cannot be accounted for as having originated in the State of Oklahoma, and genetics acquired from outside the state will not be acceptable or legal.
So…what’s the take-away?
It could be a stressful spring here in the Wild, Wild West.