Importance of Traceability Systems

Traceability systems are nothing new to traditional food, dietary supplement, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as other types of industries. However, states that have legalized marijuana require the use of track and trace systems for their marijuana licensees. These state-required systems track seed-to-sale which help monitor the movement of products throughout the supply chain and help ensure regulatory compliance. Aside from ensuring regulatory compliance, using a traceability system also helps to safeguard product safety, quality control, and consumer trust. We hope to shed light on the requirement of these systems and reasons to implement track & trace systems, especially if your state doesn’t require such systems.


State Required Marijuana Track & Trace Systems

Marijuana state programs primarily seek to use the same track & trace system to help limit diversion and product sold to the unregulated market. By using a single trace & trace system, all state licensees are held to the same program. By far the most commonly required track & trace system for marijuana licensees is METRC. If you’re located in a state with legal marijuana, love or hate it, most likely you’re required to use it.

These state-required track & trace programs are a seed-to-sale traceability management and reporting tool used by regulatory bodies and licensees. Each plant is assigned a unique identification tag and tracks the plant’s movement and transfer throughout the supply chain. Tracked activities include the planting, cultivating, harvesting, testing, transferring, processing, and selling of marijuana. A quality and safety downside to using these state-required track & trace systems is that they only track marijuana and do not also track certain quality/safety elements of product traceability. For example, these systems do not track specific original lots/batches of cultivation chemicals, non-marijuana raw manufacturing material, raw material testing results, etc. This is when using an additional traceability program or using other methods of tracking come in handy. Other tracking methods include spreadsheets, cGMP software system, etc.

Hemp Company Traceability Systems

Traditional food/dietary supplement/pharmaceutical industries outside of cannabis are not required to have a specific track & trace program, but most find them extremely helpful. Similar to traditional food/dietary supplement/pharmaceutical industries, the hemp industry is not required to have such track & trace programs. Although not required for the hemp industry, implementing a traceability program is highly recommended for the reasons listed below.


Reasons for Using Traceability Systems

  • Regulatory Compliance – Companies are held to numerous regulations and standards, such as those set by the state departments. Implementing a strong traceability system helps safeguard compliance with these various regulations, reducing the risk of fines, penalties, and damage to reputation.
  • Product Safety – In the event of a product safety issue, a track & trace system allows the company to quickly detect the source of the problem. By pinpointing affected batches or lots, a company can avoid an “any and all” recall, which could be debilitating to any company. A rapid response to a recall is essential to prevent illness, reduce liability, and minimize financial losses.
  • Quality Control & Process Improvement – Tracing a product’s journey through the supply chain allows a company to detect inefficiencies or quality issues that might arise. This information can be used to improve processes, streamline operations, and maintain consistent product quality. Many traceability programs include inventory management which can be useful when tracking the amount of inventory within the facility. By tracking inventory, facilities are able to determine when to purchase materials to not interfere with production, which increases efficiencies.
  • Supplier Issues – A traceability system allows companies to track the quality and safety of a supplier’s material. If an issue arises that can be traced back to the supplier/manufacturer, the company will be able to address the problem quickly.
  • Competitive Edge – Prioritizing product safety and quality through a robust traceability program can gain a competitive advantage in the market.
  • Traceability & Certifications – Both Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural & Collection Practices (GACP) certifications require quick access to materials through the supply chain. All raw materials, growing mediums, agricultural chemicals, ingredients, primary packaging, and finished product must be tracked in a traceability program. Products shall be clearly identified for all stages of production from receival through to finished goods and shall be able to be traced forward to the consumer and traced back to the supplier. Having a strong traceability program supports a quick and less painful product recall experience.

A traceability system is crucial for any company! These systems help ensure product safety, regulatory compliance, quality control, consumer trust, and overall operational efficiency. Traceability systems provide the tools needed to quickly respond to challenges and recalls while also capitalizing on opportunities for improvement and growth.

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