Beginning August 1 and concluding in November, the County of Humboldt will operate a pilot program designed to track the movement of medical cannabis through each step of the supply chain, as well as trace the product back to its origin, a technology known as “track and trace.” The pilot project is designed to ensure medical cannabis in Humboldt County complies with local and state regulations, and promotes public health and safety. The program will also help protect the Humboldt artisanal brand of medicinal cannabis, as required by the county’s Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance.
Why Track and Trace?
Last fall, the Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulations Act (MMRSA) was passed, providing regulations for the medical marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. A local track and trace program will ensure the county complies with key regulations of this new legislation, including identifying cannabis by its county of origin. The pilot program will facilitate this process by providing an infrastructure to track and reconcile the movement of cannabis within and between local licensees from harvest to consumer sale.
“While the state will be required to create its own track and trace program, that program will be designed to meet the needs of the state and not necessarily those of the county,” said Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf. “A local track and trace program is critical to demonstrate that the county’s medical cannabis regulatory program incorporates enforcement principles important to local and federal law enforcement including preventing distribution of cannabis to minors, preventing the diversion of cannabis to other states, preventing cannabis revenue from supporting criminal enterprises and preventing the growing of cannabis on public lands.”
It should be noted that the county’s pilot program will be fully compliant with the Adult Use Act, should it pass in November.
What does it cost?
The pilot project is being developed by an outside vendor, SICPA Product Security, LLC, at no cost to the county. As the first step in its 2017 Medical Cannabis Licensing and Certification Program, the Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office is working with SICPA on the pilot project.
How does it work?
The pilot program combines material- (i.e., counterfeit-resistant stamps) and information-based security to provide anti-counterfeiting and secure track and trace functionality. At its core, the program leverages SICPA’s track and trace solution with encrypted tax stamps, which have been successfully used by the California Board of Equalization for tobacco control since 2005.
SICPA’s secure stamps fight counterfeiting and allow for data collection and business intelligence, enabling local agencies and licensed operators to communicate with dispensaries.
After a cultivator harvests and packages their crop, they apply a traceable, counterfeit-resistant stamp to the packaging. The stamp includes a QR code and unique stamp number that is coded with information about the product, including size, strain, grower and more. As the package goes through the supply chain—from cultivator to manufacturer to distributor to dispensary—the stamps are scanned by each licensee so they can be tracked until the product is sold to a patient.
Patients can use the stamps in conjunction with a free smartphone app, which will be available when the program launches, or via the website humboldtorigin.org to make sure a product is authentic, retrieve product and provenance information, see test results and more (for example, were any pesticides used, is the grower Clean Green or do they follow organic principles, and so on).
The county currently has several local businesses enrolled in the pilot program. Training for the program will take place at the end of July. You can find more information on the pilot program at humboldtgov.org/TrackAndTrace.
Jeff Dolf, Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner
Martha Horn, SICPA North America