data-driven technology, distribution, supply chain

Supply Chain Technology Improves Consumer Safety

by | Jul 12, 2021

data-driven technology, distribution, supply chain

Written by Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer and B2B content marketer living in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, Analytical Cannabis, and Grow Mag among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands.

No matter where it's been implemented, for cannabis or chemicals, supply chain technology offers complete transparency for regulators and consumers alike. However, within the cannabis sector, the seed-to-sale traceability approach has become paramount to consumer safety.

As markets come online across the US and beyond, a hundred and one track and trace platforms have popped up to serve the industry. Most offer features beyond the state-mandated reporting options like Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance (METRC). Yet, a select number of platforms are truly revolutionizing traceability in the sector.

Molecular Tags: Going Beyond Seed to Sale

What methodology would go deeper than a seed-to-sale approach to track and trace? According to TruTrace Technologies and Applied DNA, authenticity and provenance can start at the molecular level.

Applied DNA has brought its molecular tagging technology into the cannabis space with a partnership with TruTrace. Their technology relies on an electrostatic spray applied during cultivation and/or processing. This unique spray contains a molecular tag that may be tested and tracked throughout the entire supply chain.

As the product travels, supplies and processors use a specialized device to test samples for authenticity. Each molecular tag confirms state, county, and company details. Finally, a UV label continues the line of origin into the dispensary and the hands of consumers.

TruTrace, the company behind blockchain-supported StrainSecure, incorporated this molecular tagging technology into its software platform. The molecular tagging, software application, and scanning devices ensure there is complete traceability from end to end.

Product quality, genetics, and origins are confirmed throughout the supply chain. For the customer, this means confidence in the final product.

Blockchain the Future of Traceability

It's not just TruTrace that's adopting blockchain technology in cannabis cultivation and production. Increasingly, this method is becoming the go-to for many secure and traceable cannabis transactions.

CropWise is another track and trace platform developed in partnership between CargoChain and FileVision. This easy-to-use hub will incorporate blockchain technology to guarantee an immutable chain of custody with a cultivation and genetics management tool.

CropWise will authenticate product origin throughout the supply chain, maintain state and federal compliance, confirm seed quality, demonstrate proof of ownership, and provide location tracking.

This compliance is rolled into a solution for the cultivator that also manages strains and improves operational efficiency, internal security, and brand awareness.

As per CargoChain CEO Jonathan Colehower, “CropWise is a seed-to-sale solution that will give consumers full confidence in a product's authenticity by presenting immutable evidence of its chain-of-custody.”

Overcrowding in the Track and Trace Marketplace

FileVision and CargoChain announced their intention to enter the track-and-trace market on April 20th, 2021. As a relatively new entry into the world of supply chain technology in the cannabis sector, it will be interesting to witness its rollout in an already crowded sector.

With so many technology companies vying to get into the lucrative cannabis market, it can be challenging to get a foothold. Many track-and-trace technologies have launched into the post-legalized world but largely failed to make a splash among cultivators and retailers.

With the METRC system adopted in more than ten states, many businesses fail to see the need for yet another track-and-trace technology. While they may have complaints about certain aspects of METRC, only a select few are making a move to invest in a third-party system.

However, METRC just scratches the surface. Protecting the consumer from illicit, counterfeit, or contaminated products has to go deeper. With a maturing market, brands will have to dig deeper to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Part of this will be guaranteeing public safety through a perfectly transparent supply chain.

Protecting the Consumer Always the End Goal

New supply chain technologies will need widespread buy-in across verticals to guarantee their success. To do this, they will need to go beyond the basics of METRC. New platforms will have to solve the frustrations of METRC and make themselves indispensable in other ways.

A fundamental way to differentiate is to provide true traceability for the consumer. This will mean helping buyers know exactly where their products have come from and having guaranteed genetics and insight into the growing practices used. Whatever the winning format, consumer safety will always be the end goal.