The Office of Cannabis Management entered into a five-year contract for just under $1.2 million with BioTrack, a digital seed-to-sale tracking system owned by Colorado software company Forian Inc. And company officials are preparing to roll out BioTrack’s latest technology in the Empire State.
“What we’re deploying to New York is our newer state-level technology,” said BioTrack Vice President Moe Afaneh.
BioTrack has focused on legal cannabis compliance software for the past decade, but its roots are in pharmaceuticals, Afaneh said. The company started serving customers in 2011, but it shifted toward tracking cannabis for states that legalized, and won its first statewide seed-to-sale contract in 2013 with the state of Washington.
“Early on, we saw the need to pivot into the cannabis space to fill a gap that was there from a tracking/compliance perspective,” Afaneh said.
The company currently provides seed-to-sale software tracking for 12 states, including New York, Forian CEO Dan Barton said. BioTrack employs about 65 people, who mostly serve as project managers, account managers and staffers for specific states in which the company operates. Additionally, BioTrack’s point-of-sale software is used by customers in 38 states and 13 countries, according to Forian.
BioTrack’s system in New York will largely resemble the structure it uses in other states, Afaneh said, however states sometimes have slightly different policies and requirements for the data they track, and other details.
“Every state wants to track when seeds are planted, when plants are cultivated, when they’re harvested … so 75% to 80% is overlap between the states,” Afaneh said “Where you’ll have differences is, ‘what is the sales limit? Are there any specific rules or limitations around who can transfer what kind of inventory? Are there any limitations or requirements that differ around what type of retail licenses there are, what kind of inventory they may or may not possess?’”
Cannabis business licensees at all levels – from cultivation to retail – have to input data about the products they’re growing, buying and selling, which all goes into a unified data tracking system.
If a cultivation facility buys 1,000 seeds, workers there have to enter that into the BioTrack system, and the bag of seeds will receive a 16-digit identifier, Afaneh said. If that facility plants 200 seeds from the bag, each of those 200 seeds have to be entered in, and receive their own 16-digit tag. From there, a new identification code is created each time the product is broken down (i.e. the total harvest from one plant would get a code, but if it’s broken down into 16 separate ounces, each one-ounce portion would receive its own unique code).
The system creates a chain of custody that enables regulators to track the source of a compliance or quality issue with relative ease. If a dispensary is selling weed that has mold or adulterants, investigators could use codes to back-track where the cannabis came from, and where in the supply chain the quality issue occurred.
“It gives the state the ability to have visibility throughout the entire supply chain, and at any moment they can trace backwards or forwards through time to investigate a piece of inventory,” Afaneh said.
New York’s legalization law specifically requires the state adopt a seed-to-sale tracking system. By Jan. 10, all cannabis licensees in the state – both medical and adult-use – should be up and running on the BioTrack system, Barton said.