METRC: Marijuana Enforcement Tracking and Compliance Explained

June 5, 2021 Cannabis Business, Entrepreneurs, Legalization

Why METRC? And what does it do, anyway?

In the United States, marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use in a growing number of states. In all states where marijuana has been legalized, there are cannabis compliance regulations that need to be followed.

Dispensary owners and other license holders must maintain compliance through METRC. This seed-to-sale management system can create safety in this space and manage each cannabis product and the growth phases all the way up until the products are sold from dispensaries.

A tracking system called METRC was created to regulate cannabis production, distribution, and sales. This article aims to explain everything you need to know about METRC, including how it works for dispensary owners and what it means for your operation.

Looking to implement METRC and scale with compliance in mind? We help our clients grow their businesses without risking costly infractions! CONTACT US TODAY to learn what we can do for your operation.

Metrc: Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting for the Legal Cannabis Industry

METRC: Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting for the Legal Cannabis Industry

METRC is the main reporting tool that tracks cannabis production and products from seed to sale. While it doesn’t serve all business needs, it minimizes human error and acts as enforcement tracking reporting compliance software.

From commercial growers to retail operations, this software ensures compliance data reporting for every cannabis product. However, each state has its own unique regulations and reporting requirements to ensure compliance.

METRC works by collecting data on cannabis material using unique identifier numbers (UIDs) on all legal plants and cannabis products made from the plant. This is for validation purposes, but it also can save time for reporting and help some dispensaries avoid hefty fines.

Each time a specific plant product changes hands, the transfer gets recorded. This provides traceability to the cannabis industry that makes it easy to track where products are coming from and where they reach consumers.

‘Track and Trace’ involves the state keeping a record of all cannabis plants from start to harvest. The reason behind this is that during instances in which someone gets sick from a product, a recall is essential. This system ensures that all legal cannabis products are easily identifiable and traceable to conduct any necessary recall.

checkout at a dispensary

How to Get Started Using METRC

METRC doesn’t offer comprehensive resource management for cannabis companies. Each cannabis operation must determine a solution to appropriately integrate METRC.

The easiest way is to begin using METRC manually. However, this comes with a set of risks and takes time. This process takes hours upon hours of data entry, auditing, and reconciliation processes to handle the inevitable errors.

Without a sophisticated inventory management solution in place, dispensary operators are especially at risk. Integrating METRC to account for day-to-day operations means compliance in one respect. But you’ll need to implement inventory tracking, as well.

For the most effective solution, automation is essential. These processes should be automated – and ideally, handled by a professional. METRC supports various third-party integrations that can be used in conjunction with Excel or Google Sheets.

Comprehensive point-of-sale solutions are available and can aid with compliance of state regulations. They can also save time for inputting individual transactions in METRC. This solution allows you to scan the products as they’re sold and report all cannabis sales to state authorities with ease.

Metrc State Resources

METRC State Resources

Alaska Resources

License Application Portal

Alaska Cannabis Regulations


California METRC Resources

California Supplemental Guide

California Cannabis Portal

California Business Portal

CA Department of Fish & Wildlife – Cannabis Program

State Water Resources Control Board – State Water Board Cannabis Cultivation Program

California Department of Pesticide Regulation

CDFA Weights & Measures

Cultivation Plan Guide

Colorado Resources

Colorado, Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement

Emergency Rule Adoption – 2/7/20

MED Regulated Marijuana Rules

METRC Support Bulletin – 1/1/20

District of Columbia

METRC site for District of Columbia

Louisiana Resources

Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

Maine Resources

Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP)

Adult Use Rules and Statutes

Adult Use Applications and Forms

Maryland Resources

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC)

Cannabis Law and Regulations

Helpful Forms


Pesticide Application​

Massachusetts Resources

The Massachusetts workshops presentation is downloadable here. 

Cannabis Control Commission Homepage

Program News and Updates

Guidance Documents

Public Documents

Forms + Templates

Michigan Resources

Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) 

License Application Portal

Michigan Adult-Use Licensing Resources

Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing

Pesticide Application​

Missouri Resources

Department of Health and Senior Services – Medical Marijuana Regulation

Facility Licensing and Compliance


Montana Resources

Montana Medical Marijuana Program

Online Application


Nevada Resources

Marijuana Business Portal

Nevada Marijuana Laws and Regulations

Nevada Marijuana Forms and Procedures

Nevada Department of Taxation FAQ

Ohio Resources

Cultivator Regulations

MMCP Approved Pesticides

Ohio Cannabis Licensee Resources

Oklahoma Resources


Oregon Resources

Recreational Marijuana Portal

Forms and Publications


Laws and Rules

Metrc FAQ


What does METRC stand for?

While some might think METRC stands for something else in their state, it’s the same everywhere. METRC stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance. The creators of METRC focused on creating safety and transparency for cannabis consumers. While this ensures cannabis companies are taking every measure possible to avoid costly infractions, compliance is challenging.

What does METRC track?

Besides tracking each plant, METRC tracks the activities, grow phases, and plant movements. This includes each move, whether to another room, an extraction lab, dispensary, or into waste.

All cannabis plants logged into the METRC system have tracking using data tags including:

  • Plant identification number with a scannable barcode
  • Application identifier showing if it’s medical or recreational
  • Tag order date
  • License number
  • Facility name

What is a UID?

If you’re new to METRC, you’re likely wondering about the UID. UID stands for Unique Identifier and is made up of an ID number, a facility identifier, and a product type. This system was implemented in the METRC Marijuana Enforcement Tracking System to help with compliance.

The UID helps accurately identify plants from one another across all phases as well as track movement on-site for each plant or batch of marijuana products. This system has two types of tagged inventory called ‘Plants’ and ‘Packages.’

Cannabis plant tags

Plant tags allow METRC to identify individual and batches of plants in relation to how far along they are in their growth cycles. These tags help this system keep track of the plants’ maturing stages and even what type of plant they are.

Package tags

Package tags group items that have been prepped for transfer or sale to other licensees. One or more packages are considered a batch. This is the tag that will be scanned at the point of sale to verify if it was purchased legally and for tax purposes. Every package needs its own UID, or package tag.

How do I get METRC certified?

Most states that use METRC demand cannabis business operators get a METRC certification. Each state has its own set of rules as implementing METRC is unique to those regulations.

Depending on the state you reside in, there might be some prerequisites to get a METRC certification. If you’re struggling to get compliant with this system, feel free to contact our team at Northstar for assistance adhering to your state’s traceability system regulations.

What is METRC compliance?

METRC compliance varies from state to state. But this web-based, state-mandated software platform ensures seed-to-sale tracking throughout the cannabis supply chain. It tracks everything, from production to manufacturing, testing, distribution, and sales of all cannabis products.

How much does METRC cost?

METRC LLC is charging its users $40 per month per license. This gives you access to the software. With this monthly payment, cannabusiness operators receive ongoing training, comprehensive user support, and system maintenance. Even though this is common throughout most legal states, some states like Montana and Nevada cover some of the costs for the cannabis industry.

RFID tags are also sold by METRC. These allow the software to identify and track transactions throughout each states system. Plant tags are $0.45 apiece and package tags are $0.25 apiece. In some states, purchasing and distributing package tags is handled by the state. For instance, in California, licensees don’t need to buy these tags directly. Metrc also support barcode reading technology. However, it’s designed to integrate with RFID technology as this makes the system more secure and robust.

RFID tags cannot be reused. This system’s software uses RFIDs as unique identifies, which means they cannot be used in the supply chain twice. Streamlining compliance processes means dispensary operators must continue buying new RFID tags.

Is METRC required?

METRC is a required web-hosted system for the cannabis industry in some states. It’s used online and only needs an internet connection and a web browser to operate, which makes implementation as simple as possible. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to stay compliant with this system.

METRC does not do everything for cannabis business operators looking to bypass costly infractions. Here’s what this system isn’t doing:

  • Capturing or Centralizing Business Data. Even though this system stores crucial data for retail business intelligence and compliance, it doesn’t offer visibility into this data. Instead, cannabis retail operations must invest in an integratable third-party solution to acquire this additional functionality.
  • Tracking Cash Flow, Custom Data, and Vendor Relationships. this system doesn’t provide a summary of revenue, cash spent, tax liability, or customer preferences. The software doesn’t support non-cannabis inventory because regulators in this space don’t care about non-cannabis products.
  • Validating Incoming Data to Protect Cannabis Retail Operators. METRC lets users report false data. However, the only notifications the software offers are from regulators announcing an audit or inspection.
  • Producing Comprehensive Reports for METRC Users. Regulators can generate comprehensive reports through this system. However, users cannot. As a METRC user, you will not be able to produce historical inventory valuations, which is something regulators demand if they’re auditing your cannabusiness.

Looking for assistance scaling your cannabis operation with METRC? We’ll organize your financials and maintain compliance every step of the way!

CONTACT US TODAY for expert help!