Transitioning from BioTrack to Metrc Track and Trace

April 23, 2024
April 18, 2024
| Updated
April 18, 2024

Illinois is currently using BioTrack as the state-mandated cannabis track and trace system, but this is about to change.

Last year, the state's Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer (CROO) announced that Illinois would be shifting to Metrc soon. This means that cannabis licensees would need to move from BioTrack to Metrc’s seed-to-sale tracking system to manage their compliance operations.

What does this shift mean for cannabis operators? How can cannabis businesses remain compliant with Metrc in Illinois?

Don't panic! We know it'll be challenging for many cannabis businesses to switch from BioTrack to a completely new track and trace system. That's why we've created a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for this transition.

Moving to Metrc from BioTrack in Illinois? Find all the information you need below!

Illinois BioTrack to Metrc

What is BioTrack?

After becoming the 20th state to legalize medical cannabis in 2013 and adult-use cannabis in 2020, Illinois started using BioTrack. But what exactly is it?

BioTrack is a seed-to-sale software solution designed to manage inventory and used to track legal cannabis plants through their life cycle, from the early stages to the final sale to customers.With this solution, cannabis cultivators, processors, and dispensaries could track plants or products, leverage API integrations, and keep records from a centralized point.

Seed-to-sale tracking is important across the supply chain and in all states. BioTrack was specifically designed to serve this purpose in the cannabis sector.

Although it's mainly focused on compliance and transparency across the cannabis supply chain, this system can be supplemented with other solutions to manage cannabis inventory levels, track product movement, or create accurate reports.

This data will allow regulators to understand the business and the industry.

What is Metrc?

Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) is a cannabis regulatory system provider that has built a strong reputation in the United States, serving businesses and regulators in the cannabis industry.

The main purpose of Metrc is to monitor cannabis products throughout the entire supply chain, from the early stages of production until they're sold. Cannabis businesses are required to record specific data points to remain compliant through this system, including the following:

  • Plant cultivation
  • Harvest
  • Inventory management
  • Product packages
  • Sales
  • Manufacturing processes

In 2024, Metrc is the state-mandated track and trace software used in California, Colorado, and many other states that allow the recreational and/or medicinal sale of cannabis. Illinois is expected to join this list later this year.

Metrc is mostly used by state regulators, but this system can also provide the government with accurate information about the cannabis industry, the types of businesses that operate in this sector, and its stakeholders.

Although it's mandatory to use this system for regulatory purposes, recording data through Metrc could benefit cannabis business operators by helping them understand how their products move through the supply chain, streamlining reporting, and ensuring they're compliant with state regulations.

Which States Currently Use Metrc?

Many states have adopted Metrc as their designated regulatory system for cannabis operations. This system is used in:

Important Differences Between BioTrack and Metrc

Although both solutions focus on cannabis inventory management and tracking plants from seed to sale, there are some differences between BioTrack and Metrc. Let's go over the most important ones:

Metrc Tags

The main difference between both track and trace systems has to do with how product tags are handled. With BioTrack, Illinois cannabis businesses can customize and print their own tags.

Once designed, BioTrack assigns a random number to that tag. Operators must print this number on the tag using the required software.

Metrc’s system, on the other hand, usestags businesses must attach to plants or packages before entering them into the system. These Metrc tags use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and have a Unique Identifier (UID) with key information about that item. Cannabis operators have to order these tags through Metrc’s application.

Metrc Tag Example
Click here for the full anatomy of a Metrc tag

Managing Plants and Packages

Another important difference lies in how both software solutions manage plants once they’re harvested. If using BioTrack, cannabis business operators need to ensure that post-harvest materials have an identifier when they’re creating products for retail sales. With Metrc, all post-harvest materials must have an identifier.

Metrc allows plants to be moved manually between phases, while BioTrack automates this process. Metrc’s solution enables operators to tag packages with several items, such as clones, while BioTrack requires each clone to have an individual tag.

What Do Operators Need to Do in Order to Prepare Themselves?

The secret to a smooth transition is to prepare ourselves. How can cannabis operators get ready for a shift from BioTrac to Metrc in Illinois?

Learning is the first step to getting started with Metrc. As a cannabis cultivator, you must adhere to Illinois regulatory requirements to track and report cannabis inventory and sales. In other words, you'll be required to provide information about all your activities, products, actions, processes, and updates from seed to sale through this software.

By equipping yourself with extensive knowledge about how Metrc works and the requirements you must meet, you can start preparing for this transition.

Metrc compliance will be your responsibility. In states that use this system, each cannabis business operator must ensure they’re meeting the state’s reporting requirements with 100% accuracy. 

Steps to Get Set Up for Metrc Compliance

Besides understanding what this system is all about, you’ll have to complete a few steps to get set up for Metrc compliance. These are:

#1 Get Your State License

You won't be able to set up a Metrc account if you don't have a state license in hand. The approval process can take months. So, submitting your application to get one is the very first step.

If you already have your state license, skip to step 2!

#2 Register with Metrc

Once you become a state licensee, you'll get an email with a link and instructions to register on the Metrc website and set up your account. However, you won't be able to do anything until you complete some training.

#3 Complete Your Metrc Training

To find Metrc’s training, Illinois cannabis operators should visit the official website and go to the Partners page. There's a list of all the states that use this system. However, Illinois hasn’t yet been included.

Once Illinois appears in the list of Partners, you’ll only have to click on your state’s name. After that, you just have to find a section called “Welcome to Metrc’s Training Resources” and click on “New Business Training.”

Metrc Training?

Training is mandatory in Metrc states. But what is it all about?

Although basic, Metrc has developed a training program to teach cannabis operators about this system, addressing key topics, such as its fundamentals, how the software works, and common features.

#4 Order Your Metrc Tags

The next step is to order your Metrc tags.This is something you'll want to get done quickly, as you'll be held up if you need to repackage inventory or replace a tag but you haven't physically received them.

Sign in to your Metrc account and click Admin > Tag Orders in the top navigation bar to place an order.

Metrc Tags?

Exactly! This is another important requirement. For Metrc compliance, cannabis businesses must use Metrc tags, which are stickers used to identify and track products throughout the supply chain.

There are two types of Metrc tags: plant and package. The former are attached to your plants, while the latter are for the containers that hold products from the same lot. Both contain a 24-digit unique identification number (UID) and other relevant pieces of information, such as the license number.

#5 Mark Your Tags as Received in Metrc

Do you already have your Metrc tags? Great! The time to start functioning as a Metrc-compliant operator has finally arrived! But you must do something first.

Log in to Metrc and mark your new tags as “received” before you start using them. To do this, go to the “Tag Orders” section in the Admin menu.

#6 Get the Rest of Your Metrc Account Up and Running

As the final step before you start reporting your operations on Metrc, you'll have to set up the rest of your account. For this process, you must manually enter all the ingredients you need for your products and all the items you plan to buy and sell.

Although this may vary from state to state (and Illinois may have other requirements), you'll likely be required to provide the following information:

  • Item names
  • Units of measure
  • Weight
  • Ingredients, if entering edibles
  • Categories

Once you're all set up, you'll be able to start buying and selling products. But remember that you must accurately transfer and receive the associated tags to avoid issues. 

Where Do You Sign up for Metrc?

In Metrc states, you'd have to register with the regulatory agency to get your license. Once approved, you’d receive an email with a link and instructions to set up your account through Metrc's official website.

Signing up may be different in Illinois, though, as the state isn't implementing a track and trace system for the first time but is switching from one to another. Thus, you should keep up to date with the latest news and developments about the local cannabis industry to learn more about this process.

Metrc-Integrated Software

In Metrc states, which will soon include Illinois, cannabis operators are responsible for staying compliant. However, using this system can be cumbersome, especially if you're used to BioTrack.

Luckily, although these solutions won't replace Metrc, you can use third-party applications to streamline your cannabis workflow, keep your inventory in order, and stay compliant.

You don't have to spend hours preparing items, entering data manually, or yelling at your screen every time the system crashes. A seed-to-sale software solution can pull everything into a single interface, making it easier to report to Metrc.

Tips for Successfully Transitioning from Biotrack to Metrc in Illinois

Soon, cannabis businesses will stop using BioTrack in Illinois. How can you successfully transition from one solution to another? Lucky you! We've compiled the best tips to help you go through this shift and get started with Metrc. Find them below!

  • Equip yourself with extensive information about Metrc and understand the differences between one system and another.
  • Make sure your employees complete Metrc training and properly register by the required deadline to get credentialed.
  • Stay tuned for more information on this transition over the coming weeks. Different parties are involved in the regulation of Illinois' cannabis industry, including Illinois' Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer (CROO), Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), and ‍Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
  • Set clear and consistent naming conventions for your cannabis-based products to avoid discrepancies in Metrc reports.
  • Ensure your cannabis business is organized and all your employees are on the same page to avoid mistakes.
  • Standardize your product catalog, which is key to Metrc compliance.
  • Start preparing your inventory, keeping in mind that Metrc requires cannabis businesses to tag products with specific labels.
  • Look for information on seed-to-sale software solutions, prioritizing those with Metrc integration, to find the ideal one for your business.

Is that Everything?

So far, we've covered all the key points about the transition from BioTrack to Metrc in Illinois. However, we recommend you bookmark this guide. We'll update it to add any new relevant information that comes out!

Distru's Live 2-way Metrc Integration

Metrc compliance? That's challenging enough, so we shouldn't add hours of workload to this already complex equation. Instead, we can use seed-to-sale software to simplify our workflow.

If you're looking for seed-to-sale software, you'll see an ocean of options out there. But, Distru stands out among them all. Why? Well, we're the only solution with a live 2-way sync with Metrc.

To put it another way, you won't have to enter data twice. Instead, Distru will mirror it on Metrc, even if this system crashes (again). Besides helping you reduce labor time, this seed-to-sale software will save you the headaches that cannabis operators experience when their track and trace system goes offline.

Distru Cannabis ERP
Learn more about Distru's Metrc Integration

Make a Smooth Transition from BioTrack to Metrc!

Although there will be challenges, and you'll need to learn many things, transitioning from BioTrack to Metrc in Illinois will be easier if you prepare for this shift. Keeping your data up to date and adapting to changes are some of the best practices.

As mentioned, there are two main differences between BioTrack and Metrc: how both systems handle product tags and post-harvest materials. If you keep this in mind, follow the tips listed above, and use the right seed-to-sale software, you'll be ready for this important shift in your cannabis business.

Is Distru the seed-to-sale software solution you need to manage your cannabis inventory, data, and operations? Let's find out! Book a demo today and explore this software's features to unlock all the benefits it offers to cannabis operators.

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