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Maryland Cannabis Sales Stop After Tracking Program Overloads

Maryland Cannabis Sales Stop After Tracking Program Overloads

Business

Maryland Cannabis Sales Stop After Tracking Program Overloads

Green Rush Daily

Maryland Cannabis Sales Stop After Tracking Program Overloads

A tracking system designed for dispensaries takes on more than it can handle after implementing a function that lets patients log on directly.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission may have tasked the inventory tracking software used at dispensaries across the state with more than it could handle. As a result, medical cannabis sales went offline, literally, at multiple dispensaries over the weekend. At others, software hangups caused hours-long waits for patients, including some who had driven hours just to get their medicine.

Cannabis Tracking System Metrc Crashes After Maryland Lets Patients Log On

Metrc is a cannabis inventory tracking system. Numerous states use the platform to monitor and keep a tally on medical and recreational sales. Dispensaries use it to track their sales.

But the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission had an idea for another function. And a couple weeks ago, the MMCC asked Metrc to let patients log on to the system themselves.

Maryland tightly regulates its medical cannabis program. For example, the law requires physicians to set limits for how much oil, concentrate, or flower a patient is able to purchase every month.

This left patients reliant on contacting their caregiver or provider to check their remaining cannabis “balance,” as the Baltimore Fishbowl put it. Hoping to improve patient autonomy, the MMCC asked Metrc to install a new function in the software.

The new function gave patients online access to their own monthly purchase amounts. But the volume of patient login requests quickly swelled to a level the software couldn’t handle.

So when dispensaries hit their peak sales, typically on Friday and Saturday, the combined traffic brought the Metrc software to its knees. It just couldn’t handle the increased traffic.

“There’s just a barrage of inquiries, and so you get put in a holding pattern,” explained MMCC spokeswoman Jennifer White, reports the Baltimore Fishbowl. “In some cases, that holding pattern was just indefinite,” White said.

Maryland Cannabis Sales Stop After Tracking Program Overloads

The overload of the Metrc system caused a cascading series of effects that left some of Maryland’s 27,000 certified MMJ patients without their medicine.

At Your Farmacy, a Lutherville dispensary, providers were unable to serve patients for two hours Friday and several more on Saturday.

But the system overload also triggered many dispensaries’ automatic SMS update service. Thousands of patients across Maryland received text messages saying their dispensary was closed. In turn, this prompted large call volumes with patients ringing up providers to see if they had really shut down.

“People were pissed,” said Max Davidson, an assistant general manager at Your Farmacy. “They couldn’t get their medicine.”

Many dispensaries didn’t actually shut down. But sales were completely unavailable while Metrc was offline.

In response, the MMCC asked Metrc to temporarily disable the patient access function until the company figures out a way to implement the function without straining system resources. The temporary hold freed up the system enough to carry out its core functions: inventory and sales tracking.

There’s no projected date for when the implementation will be complete. But MMCC Executive Director Joy Strand apologized to Maryland patients in a letter sent out Tuesday.

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