Metrc software issues spur MD marijuana regulators to enact temporary retail rules

Persistent outages and slowdowns involving Maryland’s seed-to-sale tracking software, Metrc, have forced state medical marijuana regulators to override regulations governing patient purchases five times in the past two weeks in a bid to limit the fallout on dispensaries and consumers.

The glitches have reportedly hurt dispensary sales.

The problems plaguing Metrc – a software system supplied by Florida technology company Franwell – date to May 25, when the system was running so slowly at times that some Maryland MMJ retailers couldn’t process customer transactions.

Outages and slowdowns were also reported to the state in August and September, Jennifer White, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily on Wednesday.

Franwell has told MJBizDaily that, per company policy, it does not provide details on any state-specific program.

To limit the impact on retailers and patients, the state cannabis commission this month permitted retailers to bypass the rules governing MMJ sales when Metrc-related “technical difficulties” prevent dispensaries from verifying how much medicine each customer can purchase.

Typically, retailers must check with Maryland’s patient registry and Metrc to determine how much MMJ can be sold to an individual customer. But when technical issues prevent retailers from verifying such information, the state allows dispensaries to sell patients limited amounts of MMJ.

Those amounts may be less than what a customer typically can purchase when Metrc is functioning normally.

The emergency “special exceptions” to the rules were in effect Sept. 7, Sept. 11, Sept. 14, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19.

According to a memo that outlined the commission’s temporary exceptions:

  • On days the special exception is in effect, dispensaries are required to log in to the commission’s patient registry and enter a patient’s medical identification number. If the system returns a message that it is “unable to contact Metrc,” the dispensary is allowed to sell to a patient: up to 12 grams of dried flower; or concentrated products, such as oils, with up to 2,500 milligrams of THC.
  • If the system is working properly and the amount of cannabis available for patients to purchase can be verified in Metrc, dispensaries are allowed to make sales in accordance with the usual individual patient limit.
  • All cannabis purchases and amounts available for patients to purchase must be verified by dispensaries and reconciled once “system outages are resolved.”

Bill Askinazi, principal at Potomac Holistics dispensary in Rockville, told MJBizDaily in July that regardless of whether a Metrc slowdown or outage lasts 20 minute or two hours, sales grind to a halt.

At the time, Askinazi estimated he had lost thousands of dollars in sales and dozens of patients because of Metrc slowdowns.

“We’re not a happy camper when Metrc goes down,” he said.

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