Don't Bar Code That Joint My Friend

barcode-teaYears ago, Colorado became the first state to allow the retail sale of marijuana for "recreational" use - now 9 states and DC allow it.    Medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states and Washington DC (since 2010) , and everyday more people are visiting their regular doctor to obtain a prescription or in many cases, special doctors whose sole practice is issuing pot prescriptions.  This phenomenon has lead to a significant jump in the number of pot dispensaries across the country. No wonder those mechanical mods and vaporizers are everywhere. The cannabis community are vigilant on educating people on how to use a vaporizer and other mechanical mods to effectively get the most of their weed. From a point of sale viewpoint, a dispensary is a unique animal, a hybrid between a pharmacy, medical office and cafe. A growing number of resellers now offering customized point of sale and supply chain solutions for this industry.

This controversial industry comes with strict regulations. Both federal and state agencies keep a watchful eye on these 'pot cafes' to ensure they aren't being run as fronts for drug dealers. Because of this, the chief concern for owners and operators is compliance, a sophisticated point-of-sale and supply chain system helps them remain compliant (and prove it if necessary).

Documentation. Each dispensary is essentially a pharmacy selling prescription drugs. The dispensary needs to be able to identify and file customers to track their purchases, and ensure the validity of their ID cards and prescriptions.  The customers are happy because the dispensary has their information right on hand in a secure local server with paperless documentation and signature, and the Feds are happy because any necessary report can be printed at will from the terminal.

Inventory. All cafes are required by law to report their inventory, sources and costs. Whether growing their own or buying from a authorized dealer, the dispensary must at all times have an accurate account of inventory available, the purchase or growing cost and a list of suppliers. Additionally, marijuana is purchased wholesale by the ounce yet sold by gram, further complicating manual inventory updating. 

Most pot cafes also offer food items cooked with the medicinal marijuana (yes, we are talking about pot brownies). The precise amount of inventory in each food item must be accounted for and tracked. Some POS systems have a 'recipe inventory' feature that automatically updates the marijuana inventory each time a food item is purchased.

Price tracking. Hundreds of different grades and strains of medical marijuana are available and the the marijuana is priced according to a non-linear structure; as the quantity decreases, the price goes up, but not proportionately which makes manual tracking and pricing very complicated. 

Loyalty Programs. Most dispensaries employ a loyalty program wherein in they give small amounts of strains for free with purchase. For example, the customer is getting 2 grams for the price of 1.8 grams. Tracking these 'compassion gifts' is important for two reasons. First, they must be accounted for in inventory records. Second, they are tax-deductible. Without a POS system, keeping track of these gifts is near impossible and often results in inaccurate inventory lists which may eventually lead to a dispensary being shut down.

When will Congress and the FDA update Federal law?   For decades, the Federal government has classified marijuana alongside heroin as a dangerous drug.  It's no such thing. Even most 7th graders know that it's not the case.  Apparently, no one at the FDA has the guts to speak up.   Today, the pressures for the legalization of marijuana are numerous - it does have many legitimate medical uses - in fact, it is the only thing that works for a variety of conditions and patients who desperately need it are forced to either relocate to a state that offers it, or use it illegally - which is patently unfair.   From a social perspective, our society has not equally applied the law across all races and colors, and plenty of people are in jail for having a small amount of marijuana, which is now legal in more than half the country. There is a growing demand for this injustice to be ended.      The average age of a Congressperson is about 60 - my age.  I smoked pot in college and probably a lot of our Congressmen and Senators did too.  The last few Presidents admitted to smoking pot.  It is time for Congress to find its voice on this matter. 

Meanwhile, look for bar codes on joints to appear sooner or later.

** the title of this article is a play on words of a song from the movie Easy Rider   click here to listen

(Updated April 20th 2018)

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