2021 HCGA Government Affairs Regulatory Platform

March 2, 2021

Dear Directors Colson, Salama, and Parrott, 

On behalf of Humboldt County Growers Alliance (HCGA), representing over 250 state-licensed cannabis businesses based in Humboldt County, we appreciate the opportunity to offer comments on proposed regulatory realignment in agency consolidation.

The purpose of these comments is to comment specifically on the reconsideration of cannabis regulations following potential consolidation, and not to comment on agency consolidation itself. We are currently working through our process to develop formal comments on the Governor’s January 8 consolidation proposal, and look forward to sharing these comments with policymakers as they are developed. 

Three years into the regulated cannabis framework, Humboldt cannabis businesses have developed considerable perspective on how state and local regulations interact with the practical realities of operating a licensed cannabis business. We support the goals of state agencies in administering a regulated framework that protects public health, public safety, and the environment, and hope that these comments can help strengthen the state’s ability to meet these goals by decreasing barriers to entry and compliance in the licensed market.

Nearly all cannabis businesses in Humboldt County are small or medium-sized: the average size of a Humboldt cannabis farm is half an acre, and half of Humboldt farms are under 10,000 square feet in total size. Additionally, Humboldt contains nearly two hundred licensed distributors, manufacturers, laboratories, and retailers, most of which are small and locally-owned. As a result, many of the comments which follow are from the perspective of independent businesses which cannot employ full-time compliance staff, and must balance compliance efforts with all other aspects of running a licensed business as an owner-operator. 

We hope that this perspective will be helpful as your steering committee considers amendments to cannabis regulations, and we look forward to working with you to build a regulated framework that protects public health and the environment, while better aligning regulation with on-the-ground realities for Humboldt’s small and independent cannabis businesses.

Sincerely,

Ross Gordon, Policy Director

Humboldt County Growers Alliance

2021 HCGA Regulatory Platform: Summary of Regulatory Recommendations

Cultivation

  1. Create a process for business-to-business trade samples, and amend CDFA §8211 and BCC §5315 to enable independent cultivators and manufacturers to transport trade samples directly to retailers with a Type 13 transport-only license. 
  2. Amend §8106 to enable single farmers with multiple cultivation licenses to share collective processing, immature plant, and storage space.
  3. Amend §8300(c) and §8301 to allow cultivators to sell and share seeds and immature plants.
  4. Introduce compositing regulations for testing.
  5. Define cultivation occurring without the use of artificial light as “outdoor,” and allow ML1 licenses to utilize outdoor methods.
  6. Create a process to mark cultivation licenses as “inactive.”
  7. Allow transfers of bulk oil from a manufacturer to a cultivator prior to final COA testing.
  8. Amend §8205(b) to allow changes to the premises by notification, rather than pre-approval. 
  9. Remove the operational hours requirement in §8102(f) and provide 24-hour notice for inspections. 

Distribution

  1. Allow pre-rolls to be COA tested after they’re rolled, but before they’re placed in final packaging.
  2. Amend §5307.2 to allow distribution-to-distribution transfers of COA-tested bulk, unpackaged flower.
  3. Amend §5052(1)(a) to allow rejection of partial shipments of cannabis goods.
  4. Amend §5306(b) to allow electronic COAs. Clarify that shipping manifests may also be electronic.
  5. Remove BCC §5311(f), requiring a separate locked box within a transportation vehicle.
  6. Accept an APN for distribution transport-only licenses.

Testing Labs

  1. Establish specific action levels for category 1 pesticides.
  2. Label a range of potency for THC and CBD content, rather than an exact number.

Retail

  1. Maintain the option to utilize curbside pick-up without requesting continuous re-approval.
  2. Adopt regulations and programs that encourage sustainable packaging, including removing the requirement for cannabis flower to be packaged in CRP.

Track-and-Trace

  1. Track mature plants by batches of 100, as is currently allowed for immature plants, rather than tagging each individual plant.
  2. Track wet weight by batch, rather than by plant.
  3. Extend time to enter CCTT data to 14 days for cultivation activities that occur within the same license on the same premises. 
  4. Allow tags to be physically attached somewhere in the vicinity of the plant, to the side of a greenhouse or other support structure, rather than on the base of the plant.
  5. Label immature plants collectively in lots of 100
  6. Pre-punch tags before distributing to licensees. 
  7. Review and address the technical performance of the METRC system, and enable offline uploads in METRC without the use of a third-party application
  8. Facilitate a two-way, in-person, educational process between small and legacy farmers, and track-and-trace management and staff.
  9. Develop functionality for tracking multiple test results on a single package.
  10. Don’t require stalks to be weighed.
  11. Extend the data correction window to three business days, and streamline data entry corrections outside this window by enabling CCTT staff to waste out harvest batches to correct errors.
  12. Establish time limits based on business days, rather than hours.

Cultivation

  1. Create a process for business-to-business trade samples, and amend CDFA §8211 and BCC §5315 to enable independent cultivators and manufacturers to transport trade samples directly to retailers with a Type 13 transport-only license. 

For small and independent businesses who sell small-batch craft products, trade samples are an essential tool. Many of Humboldt County’s 900 licensed farms and 60 manufacturers are seeking to develop their own small brands, but most are not vertically integrated and do not control full distribution licenses. As a result, small and independent businesses are often required to rely on distributors and sales representatives employed by distributors to promote their brands to retailers. Given that distributors typically control competing brands, marketing an independent brand through a distributor is not a realistic option in most cases. Independent producers must be able to represent their own products, via trade samples presented directly to retailers, to ensure equitable market access with distributors.

A policy that enables independent producers to access trade samples would involve the following elements:

  • Creating a process for designation of trade samples within METRC.
  • Allowing trade samples to be returned to cultivators and manufacturers in final packaged form after quality assurance testing.
  • Allowing these trade samples to be transported to other licensees, including retail, via a Type 13 distribution transport-only license and manifested and tracked within METRC.
  • Since trade samples would not “enter the commercial market,” they would be exempt from cultivation and excise tax. 

A trade samples system designed along these lines would make it viable for a Humboldt-based cultivator or manufacturer to drive five to ten hours to the Bay Area or Los Angeles to distribute trade samples to multiple potential partners in distribution and retail.

Currently, regulations prohibit a distributor from transporting cannabis to a cultivator after quality assurance testing is performed (CDFA regulation, Section 8211). Current regulations also prohibit a Type 13 transport-only license from transporting cannabis to a retailer (BCC regulation, Section 5315). Specifying that these regulations do not apply to trade samples would enable independent producers to have equitable access to the market without threatening the integrity of the regulatory system. 

  1. Amend §8106 to enable single farmers with multiple cultivation licenses to share collective processing, immature plant, and storage space.

Many small farms in Humboldt County have obtained multiple CDFA licenses in order to cultivate using distinct methods (e.g. 5,000 square feet of “outdoor” space, and 5,000 square feet of “mixed-light” space). However, these farmers are unable to utilize common ancillary spaces among these licenses due to Section 8106 of CDFA regulation, which disallows processing, packaging, immature plant, and harvest storage space from being shared among multiple cultivation licenses on the same parcel. This differs from CDFA’s treatment of pesticide storage, compost, and waste areas, which are explicitly allowed to be shared among multiple licenses.

For small farmers with two or three licenses, the requirement to obtain separate accessory spaces ranges from inefficient to impossible. Although CDFA allows the physical subdivision of single ancillary spaces to serve multiple licenses – such as dividing a single drying shed into “side A” and “side B” for two different licenses – our members have not found this arrangement practical. Separating a single building into separate, discrete spaces, and ensuring that the proper license is connected to the activity in each space, is logistically difficult and practically not possible when full use of the space is needed during harvest.

Harvest is often chaotic and time-pressured, and farmers are frequently under tight timelines with little margin for error. It is not an exaggeration to say that a farmer’s entire livelihood can be based on the ability to quickly and efficiently conduct processing activities during harvest, especially during wet conditions that threaten mold and mildew.

While large farms can obtain a fully separate processing or nursery license to use collectively for all cultivation licenses, small farmers do not have access to the same economies of scale. Revisiting Section 8106 would help to level the playing field and enable equal access to processing for small and large farms.

  1. Amend §8300(c) and §8301 to allow cultivators to sell and share seeds and immature plants.

CDFA regulations §8300(c) and §8301 prohibit cultivators from selling seeds and immature plants unless they also hold a Type 4 Nursery license. Many cultivators hold specialty genetics that would be valuable to sell to other cultivators; many others find themselves with extra immature plants that they were unable to get in the ground during planting season, and others hold multiple cultivation licenses and seek flexibility to transfer plants between licensees. Perhaps most importantly, on a cultural level, sharing plants and seeds is deeply rooted in legacy cannabis cultivating communities. We see no reason why these transfers, appropriately logged in track-and-trace, should be prohibited.  

  1. Introduce compositing regulations for testing.

In general, we are strongly supportive of existing state testing standards. However, certain aspects of the testing system can be streamlined to level the playing field for small farmers. Because the maximum batch size for testing under state regulation is fifty pounds, cultivators who grow multiple strains under fifty pounds – typical for small cultivators – are required to conduct multiple tests at higher cost. “Compositing” rules would allow farmers to test multiple strains collectively for contaminants up to the fifty-pound maximum batch size limit, and significantly decrease testing costs without affecting quality standards.  These rules have already been adopted in Oregon and are explained in detail on pages 2-4 of the OLCC’s “Sampling and Testing Metrc Guide.” (https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Documents/CTS/SamplingandTestingGuide.pdf).

  1. Define cultivation occurring without the use of artificial light as “outdoor,” and allow ML1 licenses to utilize outdoor methods.

Many small Humboldt cultivators have obtained multiple licenses to enable use of both light deprivation and full-term outdoor techniques. Requiring separate licenses for these production methods increases administrative burden, cost, and logistical complexity, and decreases flexibility which can be important in several different instances.

Regulations currently use the presence or absence of a structure to determine the boundary between ML1 and outdoor licenses, regardless of whether the licensee utilizes supplemental lighting. Regulations prohibit outdoor licenses from utilizing structures, while requiring that ML1 licenses utilize structures.

Several recent developments have highlighted the importance of flexibility in the use of structures. As a result of increasingly severe fire seasons, more cultivators are hedging outdoor cultivation with the use of structures which can provide some protection against smoke and ash.

Additionally, SB 67, signed by Governor Newsom in September, limits appellations to plants that are grown in the ground, without the use of artificial light or structures. Appellations development incentivizes producers that currently utilize light-deprivation techniques to plant a portion of their crop in the ground, without the use of structures. Under current rules, farmers holding an ML1 licenses would be prohibited from participating in appellations unless they also apply for an outdoor license. If outdoor production were allowed under an ML1 license type, cultivators would be able to produce a percentage of appellation cannabis, and a percentage of light-deprivation cannabis, without applying for multiple licenses.

Allowing ML1 licenses to produce without the use of a structure, and classifying all cultivation that does not use supplemental lighting as “outdoor,” is in line with state law and would streamline the process for small cultivators.

  1. Create a process to mark cultivation licenses as “inactive.”

Each planting season, farmers face difficult decisions on whether to plant the entirety of their state-licensed square footage, or to scale back production in light of market conditions. Many cultivators hold multiple state licenses, and many consider planting under some of these licenses while deactivating others.

Each farm’s decision on whether and how much to plant is driven by a number of complicated and circumstantial factors, including availability of labor, availability of nursery stock, ability to pay county-level square footage taxes and state permitting fees, costs to maintain local permitting, and predictions of future prices and demand.

However, current regulations on license renewals deter Humboldt farmers from making the planting decisions that best fit their circumstances. If a cultivator chooses not to plant under an existing state license, and allows their state license to expire, they are required to submit a fully new application at a later time in order to reactivate that license. Resubmitting a new application requires time, new application fees, and often fees to a consultant to prepare and submit the application. From the regulatory side, it also requires time and resources to process the new application.

Section 8203(d) of CDFA regulation requires a new application to be submitted if a complete license renewal application is not submitted within thirty days of expiration. We recommend revising this regulation to create a process where a cultivator can pay a small fee to keep a license in “inactive” status, without requiring a new application to be submitted to reactivate the license at a later time.

  1. Allow transfers of bulk oil from a manufacturer to a cultivator prior to final COA testing.

A critical theme throughout these comments is the capacity for small and independent cultivators to control their own marketing, branding, and supply chain relationships. The more that supply chain relationships are limited, the more that cultivators lose control over their products once it leaves the farm, and must rely on external manufacturers and distributors to market their products. 

Full-spectrum oils extracted from flower can reasonably be marketed and branded by either the manufacturer or the cultivator, and allowing oil to be returned to the farmer gives cultivators more options in marketing their product. If logged appropriately in track-and-trace and COA tested through the normal process, we believe this flexibility can be increased without creating any threat to the regulated framework.

  1. Amend §8205(b) to allow changes to the premises by notification, rather than pre-approval. 

Cultivators often have reason to change the layout of their premises in response to rapidly-changing farm or market conditions. Currently, any such changes require agency pre-approval and can consequently be delayed by weeks. 

While we understand regulators’ interest in an accurate premises diagram for purpose of inspections and accountability, we recommend that this process proceed by notification rather than pre-approval. This is comparable to how other regulations are currently enforced: for example, pre-approval is not required for packaging and labeling, which are far a more direct threat to public health and safety than minor changes to the organization of a farm’s premises. Licensees can be held accountable for violations of regulation without requiring pre-approval for each independent decision.

  1. Remove the operational hours requirement in §8102(f) and provide 24-hour notice for inspections. 

Section 8102(f) of CDFA regulation currently requires licensees to specify daily operational hours, Monday through Friday, for a minimum of two hours per day. Licensees are then expected to be present on the premises during these hours to accommodate no-notice or short-notice inspections. 

The notion of “operational hours” is at odds with the reality of owner-operators who run what are often seasonal farms in remote areas. In some cases, operators may live off farm – up to several hours away – and are not present on the farm each day. In other cases, operators may live on-farm, but may need to leave the farm – or even the county – for a range of reasons. Many farms are also seasonal and more-or-less inaccessible during winter months at high elevations, and many small farms are owner-operated and do not employ separate staff who can provide back-up. 

For these reasons, “hours of operation” seems to us to be a concept developed with consumer-facing businesses or large industrial operations in mind rather than owner-operated small farms. Removing these requirements, and providing reasonable notice for inspections, would better recognize the dynamics of cultivation in rural areas.

Distribution

1. Allow pre-rolls to be COA tested after they’re rolled, but before they’re placed in final packaging.

Currently, pre-rolls must be in final packaging before they can be COA-tested. Enabling testing to occur prior to packaging would have several benefits:

  • Consistent potency in branding – many brands prefer pre-rolls with either higher or lower THC content. Requiring packaging prior to testing makes it difficult to brand under a consistent potency.
  • Variety packs – allowing packaging after COA testing would make it possible for several pre-rolls to be combined into a single variety pack for sale. Variety packs are popular with consumers and can help patients and adult-use consumers better understand which strains are most appropriate for them.
  • Waste reduction – minimizing the amount of packaging prior to testing will prevent the generation of packaging waste from pre-rolls that ultimately fail testing.

Given that loose cannabis flower can currently be tested in bulk, we think it’s sensible that similar policies would be applied to pre-rolls.

2. Amend §5307.2 to allow distribution-to-distribution transfers of COA-tested bulk, unpackaged flower.

Flower is often transferred through several different distributors before it reaches the end retailer. Normally, distributors would prefer a COA-test flower at the first distributor to mitigate the potential for a failed test further down the line; because bulk COA-tested flower cannot be transferred, however, distributors are incentivized to test as close to the last distributor as possible. Due to lack of visibility backwards into the supply chain, the end distributor may not know the original cultivator that produced the product, creating liability issues across the supply chain in the case of a failed test. 

3. Amend §5052(1)(a) to allow rejection of partial shipments of cannabis goods.

Licensees may choose to reject partial shipments of cannabis goods for several reasons, some of which are acknowledged in §5052 itself. However, there are reasons for rejection not acknowledged in §5052, such as miscommunication about what items were requested or in what quantity. Additional flexibility for rejection of partial shipments would be helpful and could be noted in METRC, as is currently allowed for specified reasons.

4. §Amend 5306(b) to allow electronic COAs. Clarify that that shipping manifests may also be electronic.

BCC §5306(b) currently requires that “a printed copy of the certificate of analysis for regulatory compliance testing shall accompany the batch and be provided to the licensee receiving the cannabis goods.”

Compared with paper COAs, electronic COAs are more efficient, less costly, and help to reduce paper waste. With METRC in effect, we do not see the rationale for requiring paper COAs.

Similarly, licensees have received inconsistent regulatory guidance on whether shipping manifests may be electronic. We recommend clarifying that electronic shipping manifests are acceptable.

5. Remove BCC §5311(f), requiring a separate locked box within a transportation vehicle.

This requirement increases cost and complexity to licensees in multiple ways, without increasing the security of transportation vehicles.

  • The additional box adds weight and takes away space, decreasing fuel efficiency and the quantity of cannabis goods that can be transported on each trip.
  • Vehicles often need to be custom-designed to accommodate the requirements in §5311(f). Because vehicles are heavily used, they need to be replaced relatively frequently, further increasing costs.
  • Licensees are strongly incentivized to adopt best practices for the security of cannabis goods and are better equipped to determine their own security needs.

6. Accept an APN for distribution transport-only licenses.

Currently, the BCC requires a street address in order to process license applications, including for distribution transport-only licenses. In rural areas, some licensees do not have registered street addresses and have applied for CDFA licenses through an APN. While street addresses can be registered, the process can take over a year, substantially slowing the process of applying for transport licenses.

Testing Labs

  1. Establish specific action levels for category 1 pesticides.

Current regulations don’t provide specific action levels for category 1 pesticides, but instead require a “non-detect” result. Without a specific quantitative threshold, non-detect levels vary based on the sensitivity of each labs’ equipment. As a result, labs with less sensitive equipment are able to pass a greater proportion of product, creating an incentive for lab-shopping. Equalizing pesticide thresholds among all laboratory licensees will increase the integrity of the testing system.

  1. Label a range of potency for THC and CBD content, rather than an exact number.

THC potency is currently the single greatest factor driving consumer purchasing decisions. However, THC measurements contain an inherent margin of error, and it’s common for cultivators to receive different THC testing results from different laboratories. Small differences in THC content can produce large differences in marketability: in particular, whether cannabis tests above or below 20% THC can heavily affect its perceived quality. Accounting for this margin of error in labeling would provide consumers with more accurate testing results than labeling potency with a single percentage.  Retail

  1. Maintain the option to utilize curbside pick-up without requesting continuous re-approval. 

In response to the COVID pandemic, the BCC has authorized retailers to utilize curbside pick-up. Currently, retailers must specifically request, and periodically renew, this authorization. The flexibility to utilize curbside pick-up has been crucial over the course of the pandemic, and should be considered as a permanent policy without the need to continually request regulatory approval. 

At this time, it appears that it will be many months before a COVID vaccine becomes widely available, and the ultimate efficacy and accessibility of a vaccine remains unknown. Public health authorities, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, have suggested that social distancing measures may be necessary even after a vaccine is produced and distributed (see, for example, “Fauci: Don’t abandon masks, social distancing after getting vaccine” The Hill, November 15 2020). Such measures may be especially crucial for immunocompromised patients using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Continued access to curbside pick-up would help to mitigate these risks. 

  1. Adopt regulations and programs that encourage sustainable packaging, including removing the requirement for cannabis flower to be packaged in CRP.

Regulatory requirements, particularly requirements for CRP, currently incentivize cannabis businesses to utilize single-use disposable packaging. We strongly encourage consideration of programs, such as incentives for multiple-use packaging, to reduce the impact of plastic waste in the cannabis industry.

Additionally, while we support CRP for edible products, cannabis flower is not psychoactive unless intentionally smoked, and so is effectively “child-resistant” in itself without a need for additional packaging. For comparison, alcohol – which is far more accessible for small children – is not required to utilize CRP. Clones and seeds are already not required to utilize CRP under BCC §5413(d). A similar policy for flower would substantially decrease plastic waste in the industry without compromising consumer safety. Track-and-Trace

2020 was the first full year that cultivators were universally required to utilize the METRC

system. Prior to that point, discussions on CCTT – including the development of CDFA

regulations related to track-and-trace – were purely theoretical from licensees’ perspective.

Overall, Humboldt cultivator perceptions of the existing CCTT system are negative. In a survey of HCGA membership we conducted in November 2020, the existing track-and-trace system received an average rating of 1.71/5 among cultivators. When we asked the same survey question of Humboldt cultivators in November 2019 – when METRC was first universally implemented for farmers – the average rating assigned to METRC was 2.42/5. These survey results suggest that, the more that licensed cultivators utilize the existing system, the more negative their perception of it becomes. 

For comparison, non-cultivators surveyed by HCGA had a slightly more positive perception of

METRC, though their experience is still negative overall (surveyed non-cultivators gave

METRC a rating of 2.62/5 in 2019, and 2.63/5 in 2020).

Multiple working groups composed of HCGA members met over several months in November 2020 and March 2021 to better understand the challenges that small farmers face in utilizing the existing METRC system. Those working groups have developed the following issue list in preparation for the 2021 CCTT working group currently under organization by state regulators. We appreciate the efforts by regulatory agencies to engage in this working group process, and look forward to discussing these issues in more detail over the next several months.  


ISSUE NAMEBRIEF DESCRIPTIONASK

1Tagging and tracking each plant individually for wet weight and dry weightCCTT regulations require each mature plant to be individually tagged and tracked for both wet and dry weight after harvest. Following harvest, the plants are then “batched” and tracked collectively, rather than by plant.
Tracking each individual plant requires tremendous effort on the part of the cultivator. For example, for a 21,000 square foot farm, we estimate it typically requires a crew of five people 3-4 days to tag all plants within a licensed cultivation area. This is only one aspect of a multi-step intensive process to tag and track data for each plant. For example:
During harvest – which is often highly time-pressured and chaotic, particularly during rains – wet weight must be recorded for each individual plant.  Many farmers do not harvest their full plants at once, instead harvesting certain parts of each plant at certain times. For example, the top buds of the plant may finish before side branches, and would be harvested at different times. This complicates tracking the weight of harvest material by plant. The harvest material from each plant must be weighed again when dried. Data entry must be performed for all of the above functions. Due to connectivity and IT issues, particularly in rural areas, data entry is often slow or impossible.
Tagging each plant also generates tremendous amounts of plastic waste. We estimate that a 10,000 square foot ML1 license utilizing light deprivation will generate about 30 pounds of plastic tag waste per year. Projected over Humboldt’s 1,486 cultivation licenses, we estimate that approximately 14.5 tons of plastic tag waste are generated in Humboldt annually; projected over the state’s 5,884 cultivation licenses, we estimate statewide plastic waste at 71 tons per year. 
After performing the aforementioned steps to track by plant, the CCTT system then consolidates the plants into separate batches and tracks by batch. Given that the ultimate end of the system is to track by batch, it is unclear to us why so many labor and plastic-intensive intermediate steps to track by plant are required. 
Track mature plants by batches of 100, as is currently allowed for immature plants, rather than tagging each individual plant. 
2Requirement to record wet weightRecording wet weight is labor-intensive and impractical during time-pressured harvests. The wet weight requirement has been justified by the notion that moisture loss is expected to total between 65%-85%, and that moisture loss outside this range may indicate diversion. We view this approach as flawed: most wet weight of cannabis is lost as moisture during drying and processing, and there is no consistent ratio between wet and dry weight. Climatic conditions, including rainfall, can heavily influence the ratio between wet and dry weight. 
Current regulations require this expensive and time-consuming work to be done during harvest, at the same time as farms have the least margin for error. We estimate that conducting wet weight for each individual plant approximately triples the time for harvest. 
Track wet weight by batch, rather than by plant. 
3Three day time limit to enter CCTT dataOnce wet weight data is collected at time of harvest, CDFA 8405(c) requires that it must be uploaded to CCTT within three days. 
We understand the rationale for time-sensitive upload requirements when cannabis is physically transferred to another licensee. However, when cannabis changes its state on the same premises (for example, when cannabis is harvested), we do not see the same urgency.  
Additionally, when the same plant is harvested over multiple days, the same plant is assumed to be in a separate “batch” if it is not recorded in three days. 
Extend time to enter CCTT data to 14 days for cultivation activities that occur within the same license on the same premises. 
Transactions that result in a change of custody would still need to be recorded within three business days.  

4Physically attaching the tag to the base of each mature plantPhysically attaching a tag to the base of each plant, as required by CDFA 8403(b)(4), is not overly challenging in the context of outdoor cultivation. In greenhouse cultivation, however – where physical room to maneuver is limited, and plants are densely packed – attaching a tag to the base of a plant can be very challenging. 
For both outdoor and greenhouse plants, it is often difficult to keep the tag securely attached as the plant grows. Tags can easily become buried in the dirt if they’re placed too low, sun-bleached if they’re too high, or become insecure if the zip-tie is not large enough. 
Additionally, the required tamper-evident zip ties are non-recyclable, further adding to issues with plastic waste.
Allow tags to be physically attached somewhere in the vicinity of the plant, to the side of a greenhouse or other support structure, rather than on the base of the plant.  
5Labeling each immature plant with a UIDCDFA 8403(b)(1) requires a physical UID number to be attached to each immature plant. 
In nurseries, which can have tens of thousands of plants, this requires a tremendous amount of labor. Often, plants are only held in nursery inventory for 10-12 days, requiring the physical tagging of these plants as an intensive, ongoing process. 
Cultivators face similar challenges on a smaller scale. For cultivators, immature plants are often kept in quarantine for a very brief period on the farm before they are planted in the licensed cultivation area. Tagging each immature plant in this brief time is impractical. 
Our understanding is that other states do not require immature plants to be tagged at all, and instead classify these plants as in a “vegetative” phase exempt from tagging. 
Label immature plants collectively in lots of 100
6Holes on CCTT tags are not pre-punchedCCTT tags contain “chads” that must be manually punched out by the cultivator upon receipt of the tags. When there are many chads to punch out, this can add up to a labor-intensive task.  Pre-punch tags before distributing to licensees. 
7Technical issues, including rural connectivity issuesFarmers, particularly in more remote rural areas, frequently report either intermittent connectivity or total loss of connectivity to CCTT. Our members who operate manufacturing and distribution businesses in town also report frequent CCTT slowdowns and outages. In either case, connectivity issues cause significant frustration. 
Small farmers cannot hire separate CCTT staff and must set aside specific time in their day to upload CCTT data. As a result, when the interface is slow or not operational, it is not straightforward to simply upload data at a different time when other farm tasks need to be completed. 
Review and address the technical performance of the METRC system
Enable offline uploads in METRC, without the use of a third-party application
8Lack of communication and mutual understanding between METRC staff and rural cultivators As of November 24, 2020, according to CDFA data, 1,780 of California’s 2,578 independent cannabis farms (61%) were based in the counties of Humboldt, Mendocino, or Trinity. The small and independent farmers in these remote areas of Northern California comprise, by far, the greatest concentration of legal cannabis cultivation in the world. At the same time, however, the practical aspects of cultivation in this region – carried out on a small scale, outdoors, often by owner-operators, in regions with limited internet connectivity – are not comparable to cannabis cultivation in any other region in the U.S.
As a nationwide service provider, we are concerned that METRC staff have not had sufficient exposure to the unique conditions on the North Coast to develop a workable system for the unique conditions in our region. We encourage additional in-person interaction with METRC staff on the North Coast so that the unique conditions of our region can be better understood. 
Facilitate a two-way, in-person, educational process between small and legacy farmers, including North Coast farmers, and track-and-trace management and staff.
9Variety packs By helping consumers to better understand the nuances of different cultivars and product types, variety packs can be an important marketing tool for businesses selling small-batch craft products. For example, a variety pack could contain a range of cannabis cultivars with different terpene and cannabinoid profiles, or a range of edible and topical products with a common theme. 
As far as we understand, variety packs are not prevented by any existing regulation, but METRC currently has limited functionality to enable multiple test results to track with a single package.
Develop functionality for tracking multiple test results on a single package.
10Weighing cannabis stalks A regulatory interpretation requires the stalks of plants which remain in the ground to be weighed after harvest. Stalks are required to be weighed, and then immediately reported as destroyed as waste. This process can be time and labor-intensive, and does not provide meaningful data. Many farmers prefer to leave stalks in the ground to compost after harvest.  Don’t require stalks to be weighed. 
11Correction of data entry errorsAcross the supply chain, METRC makes it difficult to correct data entry errors. Correcting these errors often requires either manual workarounds, or direct communication with regulators. For example, from a cultivation perspective, harvest batch errors, such as inputting incorrect wet weight, can only be corrected within 48 hours. Outside of this window, the process to correct errors is extremely time-consuming. Our understanding is that other states do not maintain this 48 hour restriction. Extend the correction window to three business days
Streamline data entry corrections outside this window by enabling CCTT staff to waste out harvest batches to correct errors. 
12Time limits measured in hoursTime limits on performing CCTT tasks are currently measured in hours. On weekends, and during holidays, these time limits can be impractical. Many farmers have families and other obligations, and would appreciate the ability to take a weekend or holiday off without risking violation of state rules.  Establish time limits based on business days, rather than hours.

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