Business & Tech

Cannabis commission picks firms to track marijuana plants and license applications

Shawn Collins is executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
Jim Davis/Globe staff/File 2017
Shawn Collins is executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is plowing ahead with its preparations for the debut of recreational pot sales in July, despite a recent change in federal law enforcement policy that has put a cloud of uncertainty over the marijuana industry.

The commission has voted to negotiate a contract with Franwell Inc., a Florida-based software firm whose “Metrc” product tracks all the marijuana sold legally in Colorado and most other states with recreational markets.

The system, for which about $750,000 has been budgeted, is a vital piece of regulatory infrastructure meant to prevent marijuana that’s grown, processed, and sold in state-licensed facilities from being diverted to the illicit market.

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Metrc uses wireless RFID tags and barcodes to log every movement of a marijuana plant from the time of planting until its cured buds and the products derived from them — such as edibles and tinctures — are sold in dispensaries.

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The commission also voted to negotiate a contract with a local company, Salem-based JD Software Inc., for a system that will handle applications for recreational marijuana licenses. The state Department of Public Health already uses the firm’s software to manage the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Shawn Collins, the commission’s executive director, said the companies were selected over other bidders because of their ability to set up their systems quickly and adapt the software as the agency tinkers with its final regulations.

“There’s a lot of confidence that, on day one, we will have a tracking system that functions,” Collins told the agency’s five commissioners at a meeting Tuesday.

Earlier this month, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the federal government’s hands-off policy towards states with legal cannabis markets, raising the prospect of raids and diminished investment in the burgeoning industry.

Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.