By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
The METRC cannabis tracking system in Colorado is suffering some “leakage” from the supposedly stringent seed-to-sale system designed to prevent diversion from their regulated adult use cannabis market. Although regulators have determined there have been numerous violations, its impossible to tell just how much marijuana is escaping the system and making it to the black market where it is untaxed and unregulated. They have, in the meantime, issued over $680,000 in fines on licensees that have been deemed in violation of the laws.
The loopholes appear to be in the gray areas where there are allowable losses under the rules. Retail outlets have been fined for selling cannabis outside the taxed and regulated system after reporting cannabis as damaged or contaminated.
Under the Colorado tracking system, regulators are supposed to be able to monitor all the inputs and outputs in the system by tracking every single plant used to produce cannabis for the legal market. Under this plan, plants are tracked, harvest is tracked, and the finished product amounts is supposed to be recorded and tracked until it is sold to the customer.
A person can already start to imagine the massive opportunities to divert product from a registered and licensed grow site, let alone the dispensaries. However, the fines were primarily assessed on dispensaries for an array of violations. KDVR Fox 31 in Denver reported:
A seasoned dispensary employee named Marcus explained how pot routinely disappears. And although the amounts seem small to state regulators, the profits for those who are manipulating the system are good.
“There are many ways to be able to manipulate these numbers and there’s no accountability,” Marcus said. “A lot of people are getting paid poorly. A $1,000 or $2,000 just to shave a few grams here and there every day sounds like a real good idea.”
Marcus said the main goal of using waste and lost fields is usually the same: To fool state regulators into thinking some marijuana was dropped on the floor or contains too many mites, then sell that “missing” marijuana out the back door.
Diversion from the regulated systems remains a major problem in legal marijuana states. In fact, Oregon uses the METRC system, as well. Lawmakers are wrestling with different systems to try and find a solution to the obvious problem…how do you control a plant that grows like a weed?
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