Laws and Regulations

Cannabis Traceability: What is it and Why is it Used?

Written by Lisa Rennie

With the rise of cannabis legalization on a state level across the US, cannabis has become big business. It’s anticipated that US cannabis sales could top $10 billion by the end of this year, and as much as $22 billion by 20221. But in addition to making handsome profits, cannabis companies (should) all have one thing in common: to provide safe, high-quality cannabis products for the masses to consume.

As such, the issue of traceability comes into effect.

Regulations have been put in place for states that have legalized cannabis to some degree that require some level of transparency and accountability in the cannabis industry. And among these regulations is the responsibility of cannabis businesses to participate in seed-to-sale tracking, which can be done through the use of specific traceability software.

What is Traceability?

As the term suggests, traceability simply refers to the process of tracing a particular substance. It’s designed to ensure that entities adhere to their respective industry’s regulations and to minimize or reduce any flaws or dangers that may come without having such traceability protocols in effect.

In terms of the cannabis industry, traceability tracks, manages, and audits cannabis inventory. More specifically, cannabis companies should be able to answer questions relating to where their seeds came from, what their plant strains are, when and where their plants were harvested, and what types of consumables were processed. They’ll also need to be able to produce reports on sales and purchase volumes.

If a specific cannabis product is not safe for whatever reason, the whole cannabis industry can suffer a ruined reputation. With this particular industry still surrounded by a certain level of stigma, avoiding such negative attention is crucial, and traceability can be a key component to maintaining the trust of the general public.

Should a particular product be deemed unsafe and require a recall, it’s essential that cannabis companies are able to react quickly, and traceability can ensure that this happens without a hitch.

In states where cannabis is legal, cannabis businesses may be required to use specific systems to track cannabis from the initial seeding to the point of sale to make certain that nothing makes its way into the black market. It also helps keep tabs on a product’s safety or quality2.

With traceability, every cannabis plant is given a unique marker, and any products that are derived from that particular plant are given markers as too. Traceability software can also ensure that products are lab tested before they’re shipped off. Such testing can detect things such as pesticides, mold, cannabinoid levels, and terpene profiles, among other things3.

Why Traceability Matters to the Cannabis Industry

Traceability allows cannabis businesses, consumers, and the government to be able to monitor how safe and legitimate cannabis products are. Even if the use of traceability software wasn’t necessary, cannabis businesses – and the people they serve with their products – would be in a better position. The industry is made safer as a result of such traceability.

The legal cannabis market can be better protected against the black market, which not only combats criminal activity but also protects consumers from inadvertently buying and using black market cannabis.

Consumer confidence can be improved when people know exactly where their cannabis is coming from and what they’re using. It’s this type of transparency that traceability can provide that can increase confidence in the cannabis industry and remove the stigma that typically comes with cannabis production and use.



  1. McVey, E, “Exclusive: US marijuana sales may reach $10 billion this year, $22 billion by 2022“, Marijuana Business Daily, May 2018.
  2. Weed, Julie, “BioTrackTHC Helps Marijuana Businesses Track Inventory And Comply With Regulations“, Forbes, February 2016.
  3. Branca, M, “Cannabis Analysis Takes Off“, Chemical & Engineering News

About the author

Lisa Rennie

Lisa Simoneli Rennie has been working as a freelance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content dedicated to informing consumers. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others, and in her spare time, Lisa enjoys trying funky new recipes, spending time with her dog, and of course, reveling in the joy of family.