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In the rapidly emerging cannabis technology field, I find that using analogies and parables is an especially effective way to convey complex concepts. Today I focus on the catchy fairy tale headline of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Now that I’ve got your attention, I want to convey it all start here with the bar code show in Figure 1 that is attached to every cannabis flower stalk grown in the State of Washington by producers (I’m not qualified to speak about other states – yet!).

Figure 1: Visual the start of the cannabis technology journey as the bar code show here.

The bar code is very important for reasons that amount to compliance, product quality/assurance, supply chain and safety.

For compliance, the bar code not only keeps honest cannabis industry stakeholders honest (not crossing the yellow line to the black market for example), but it’s also how state and local government ultimately calculate all important tax revenues. A processor, Honu, was recently busted by the State of Washington for allegedly crossing the yellow line to the sell into the black market. Tracability would have been key to the compliance enforcement action.

For product quality and assurance, we are talking insuring the flowers are wholesome and not subject to molds or unsavory pesticides that impact quality.

Supply chain – this is the tracking from seed to sale. That bar code in Figure 1 above will bne scanned at every single step of the way. For example, in my research, I witnessed a budtender unable to sell a peanut butter cup edible at a Seattle-area dispensary because the bar code hadn’t been properly entered for inventory management purposes. The lady behind the counter was forbidden from selling the peanut butter cup resulting in lost revenue.

Safety. Imagine if there was contamination in the cannabis supply chain? This could be because of the above product quality example or sadly something like a terrorist act. It’s that fricking bar code that would allow a proper and immediate recall for public safety purposes. That can’t happen in a black market where “we” as a community wouldn’t even be able to do a proper recall. A recent incident makes my point. In September 2018, over 200 Philadelphia heroin users were poisoned due to heroin and/or fentanyl adulterated with a substance believed to be a synthetic cannabinoid (often generically referred to as K2). You can read more about this in this article by Christopher Moraff.

Safety 2.0. The bar coding and seed-to-sale tracking workflow also allows “us” to have a serious conversation about packaging and labeling. Parents are legitimately concerned about kids having intended (e.g. high school students who partake) and unintended (toddlers eating a peanut butter cup) access to lookalike edibles. My point is that which we track and measure and can managed. Without that bar code in Figure 1, we can’t even really improve this situation.

The bar code is also emblematic of technology opportunities for the managed services provider (MSP) and other technology professionals – each step of the way. And you can take that to the bank!