Cannabis tracking works by having businesses use unique tracking stamps that allow regulators to track where the cannabis is and where it has gone in order to prevent potential diversions to the black market. Pictured: a tag that is attached to a cannabis plant to track it from seed to harvest and into sale in a Colorado dispensary. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Humboldt County’s cannabis track-and-trace system may become model for California regulators

In the pilot program, nearly 150 cannabis sites in 47 cities participated. With recreational legalization, thousands of cannabis businesses could start up just in Humboldt County

Humboldt County’s pilot track-and-trace program for its medical cannabis market will end Feb. 28, with the county now working toward implementing a permanent system for the potentially thousands of cannabis businesses in the county.

The program began in August and is being tested on a micro-scale with the Swiss company SICPA, which currently tracks cigarette sales for all of California.

Nearly 150 cannabis sites in 47 cities throughout the state participated in the county program, with about 1,800 pounds of Humboldt County marijuana being tracked, according to a news release from SICPA this week.

The program works by having cannabis businesses use unique tracking stamps that allow SICPA and county regulators to track where the cannabis is and where it has gone in order to prevent potential diversions to the black market.

When scanned, the stamps give both consumers and regulators the ability to view where the product came from, the exact batch number, and other product information.

Over 30,000 stamps were used during the seven-month program, according to SICPA.

“It was important to learn through the pilot program whether track and trace could demonstrate that the county’s commercial cannabis program incorporates enforcement principles important to local and federal law enforcement, including preventing distribution to minors, preventing diversion to other states, preventing revenue from supporting criminal enterprises and preventing growing on public lands,” Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf said in a statement. “We wanted to prepare ourselves for a full-scale program, and that’s what we did.”

California’s Board of Equalization is currently working to implement its own track-and-trace system in order to track cannabis tax payments for the statewide market. Humboldt County’s pilot program was being eyed as a potential model for the state system.

This story was first published on Times-Standard.com