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Washington State Rushed Into the Launch for New Marijuana Tracking System

washington state seal on cannabis background

An independent report found that MJ Freeway and the state were forced to rush the release of a seed-to-sale marijuana traceability system despite technical issues and problems. These problems ended up losing marijuana businesses tens of thousands of dollars in sales. Leading tech and research consultants performing the tests stated that the system crashed frequently; they consider it to be “unstable.” They recommend the state try to isolate and identify the problems and that MJ freeway address issues with the seed-to-sale platform before it collapses completely.

Earlier this year, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) hired global research and advisory firm from Connecticut, Gartner consulting. The firm was to then spend eight weeks conducting an assessment of MJ Freeway’s Leaf Data Systems platform that had been launched in February.

Upon conclusion of the assessment, Gartner said their report: “The state went live with a solution that would have failed typical tests. The solution (Leaf Data Systems) was not mature enough for launch.”

An MJ Freeway executive deflected the blame, however, to the LCB, “purely because it was (the agency’s) decision to go live, not MJ Freeway’s decision.”

Gartner stated in their report that “the state and MJ Freeway were forced into an impossible deployment schedule,” considering that most projects like this take a year or more to get going. They also determined that MJ Freeway and the state “underestimated” the need to customize the platform specifically for Washington’s market. They also noted that the methods that were used in the development and implementation process didn’t follow the “best practices” standard and that “security concerns are persistent.”

Despite the problems the found, Gartner said that the situation isn’t hopeless; some improvements have already been seen over the past year. The LCB was provided with a “10-step Project Rescue Checklist” to help them fix the problems.

Jessica Billingsley, the CEO of MJ Freeway, said “Let’s remember, this is an entirely new undertaking, and each state is learning as they go. Even with the state’s evolved requirements […] we launched Leaf Data Systems in a record 32 weeks from vendor selection to launch.”

She addressed the security issue, saying that the company had taken extra steps to improve authentication and encryption. They also have retained cybersecurity firms to assist in performing regular security audits. The company is also in good shape financially, so further improvements shouldn’t be a problem.
“Many of the final technology issues as outlined in the Gartner report were addressed during and shortly after completion of the evaluation for the report,” Billingsley added. “Additionally, MJ Freeway just completed a $10 million oversubscribed Series C Financing. The financing will continue to accelerate advanced technological build-outs in real time.”

The owner of Toucan Farms, Steve Fuhr, said that the platform is functioning in a more user-friendly fashion, giving credit to “constructed workarounds” for its newly usable fashion. According to Fuhr, without the third-party providers of this necessary software, the traceability system would completely meltdown.

“It’s due to the actions of my third-party traceability provider providing consistent patches and workarounds that has caused Leaf Data Systems to be more functional,” Fuhr added.

He reports still having problems when it comes to tracing lot numbers from cultivation to lab testing to retailers.

“It’s costing us efficiencies at the testing level, bringing the product in, sending the product out, correlating with retailers test results for specific lots. At every step, it costs us more time.”

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