System Failure Software issues lead to significant revenue loss in Washington’s cannabis industry

Like many states with recreational cannabis, Washington authorities use a database to record cannabis operations in the regulated market. Last month, however, the tracking software experienced major issues, causing businesses to take a hit of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth in lost sales.

Because the state of Washington has a mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system for every business in the cannabis industry, no one was safe from the ongoing problems the failure caused. Unfortunately, this is not the first complication to arise for the required system. The software provider, MJ Freeway, has come under criticism as some urge the state to part ways with the company that provides the tracking system.

A Spokane, Washington lab’s cannabis sample numbers were severely miscounted by the software because of the glitch. In some cases, employees were temporarily released as a result of the money loss, and businesses were unable to transport their products.

The situation became so desperate that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) gave the unprecedented green light for businesses to keep records for themselves on testing, sales and shipping. However, it did not require such records to be placed into a computer system and suggested the records would be reviewed at a future date.

“The board recognizes there are challenges and problems associated with this software release they want to be able to alleviate in the short term,” shared LCB spokesman Brian Smith.

Unsurprisingly, business owners expressed deep concern over the loss of revenue that will never be recovered. “Our small company lost four days of revenue-generating sales as a direct result of the state software system failure, and we’re just one of hundreds of companies that experienced similar results,” shared Andy Brassington of Evergreen Herbal, a company that produces cannabis-infused products, which was originally reported by Associated Press. Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, described the event as, “crippling.”

“The board recognizes there are challenges and problems associated with this software release they want to be able to alleviate in the short term.”

 

The issue brought forth the discussion of doing away with the seed-to-sale tracking policy altogether. Created to promote transparency over the cannabis industry, some feel that this level of oversight is neither realistic nor practical. Given this latest frustration, the criticism is understandable.

The software provider, MJ Freeway, tracks regulated cannabis not just in Washington, but several other states as well. Two years ago, Nevada opted out of using MJ Freeway after the company was hacked. That incident left an estimated 1,000 retailers unexpectedly on their own, attempting to manage inventory and sales themselves.

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, MJ Freeway has been given two extra months to develop a new software to amend the glitches that created the upsetting loss of revenue. While MJ Freeway began serving cannabis businesses in 2010, it’s clear that there is still room for improvement. Growth and more reliable systems across the board are obligatory for an industry with such rapid expansion.

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