Crash Course

From OpenTHC

Crash Course in Regulated Commercial Cannabis

A Brief History

Cannabis has been around for thousands of years, lets skip a lot of that and start c1980. High Times magazine exists, Annapurna is already 10 years old and some states had already decriminalize cannabis in some way. This is the time of "black-market" cannabis, secret grows, war on drugs, DARE, etc.

Then in the 1990s the laws were relaxed even more and in 1996 California legalized medicinal cannabis. This begins a process that other states followed, although some are still catching up. The permits the expansion of many businesses around cannabis: stores, supplies, lighting, conferences, technology, etc. Sowing the seeds so to speak.

Starting in 2012, with Colorado and Washington passing their recreational laws, the game completely changes. Prior to this, the regulations were pretty loose. These two states created big new government programs, wrote a number of new laws and created a comprehensive software solution that every licensed cannabis MUST participate in (a Seed to Sale system). Other states followed, Alaska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, California and others now have explicit business operational requirements in the law and State level technology requirements.

More on Timeline of Cannabis in the USA.

Medical Cannabis

For states that have Medical Cannabis only you may or may-not have a State software system. Some Medical programs allow for retail-store-front, others do not. Some states have simply reduced penalties for cannabis possession.

Recreational Cannabis

For States that have Recreational Cannabis you will have State software system, one provided by either BioTrack, LeafData or METRC. These systems also allow for other software providers to integrate. These software-solutions are all designed to help the business follow the new, explicit regulations as well as report the required data to the State Agency that oversees the industry.

This part we'll call the "Modern Regulated Cannabis" industry.


When required each state has many different licensing requirements, limits on funding sources, limits on ownership, limits on business size, or type of business conducted. There is generally an application process, waiting period, some back-and-forth before the license is issued. This process can take weeks, or even months (or longer!)

Operational Requirements

The regulations also come with additional functional requirements. For example, the Agency may require that a minimum level of video-recording/CCTV is in place. The Agency may require the business to keep a visitor log, or document operational procedures. In some cases a business may need to get packaging approved by the Agency before it can be sold!

List of Regulated States