Washington State Drops BioTrack

It's now official, confirmed on multiple accounts and the contract negotiations are proceeding. The replacement for BioTrackTHC in Washington State will be MJ Freeway using their Leaf Data Systems product.

MJ Freeway has until October 31st to get their replacement system in place. This is a pretty large software project and has a very, very aggressive schedule. The Leaf Data system is barely ready for prime time, we've got thousands of businesses to migrate, three years of data and at least six third party API vendors. And do it all in five months.

We're predicting disaster.

Data migration will be the first issue, there are loads of old records that don't follow the same data-patterns as the newer records. This is a result of BioTrack updating their system and fixing bugs over the deployment period. Somehow, MJ Freeway will have to identify and patch, or simply drop the data-migration entirely. And if they don't migrate, well, let's hope that no one was depending on the State keeping historical records.

Their API is not ready. The documentation is incomplete, it contradicts itself. There is a Test interface that is terribly incomplete. You can see it all here: https://nevadatest.leafdatazone.com/api_docs/test

Did we mention that the Leaf Data Systems is a completely new project for MJ Freeway? Their existing solutions were just not suitable for the government use, so Leaf Data is brand new code. It's just a fact that in the software game, young code is buggy and incomplete. That is what is deployed in Nevada and is what we'll be getting in Washington.

There are over a thousand marijuana licensed businesses in Washington. That need to “flip a switch” to a new systems. Many of these businesses use a third party software (such as ours) to operate. So, this is really a task of getting thousands of things to “work right”, not just one or two. It's a big lift. And everyone, across the board, will need to training on brand new software.

Did we mention this new “enforcement” software doesn't actually provide enforcement? Our current BioTrackTHC system prevents farmers from entering data or doing operations that are not allowed. When that happens the licensed operators are PREVENTED from taking action that is not allowed. This is a Good Thing. This forcing function provides a hard-stop where the operator is forced to address and learn the regulations, it improves the integrity of the entire system. BioTrackTHC wasn't perfect at this, but it did cover a good portion (and I'm sure it could have been extended). Our new system will not provide any checks. It will allow more garbage to go in; it won't even warn operators if what they are doing is not allowed. This leads to data inconsistencies which complicate enforcement and since the rules are not codified the enforcement can be way more subjective than it stands today.

The rollout of BioTrack in Washington could have gone better; there were loads of problems back in 2014q1 when it was just rolling off the production line here. Now, we're doing it all over again but rather than ramping up we'll be smashing into a BIG WALL of change hitting thousands of people almost all at once moving to a new system that is new, unproven, aggressively scheduled and going to be deployed on a large scale. What could go wrong?

In calendar year 2016 the State of Washington received more than $200,000,000 dollars in excise taxes from marijuana. To deploy this new system they had to levy new fees and assessments against the licensed operators (WTF!) You'd think they could have sliced off 1% of the excise taxes and simply paid BioTrackTHC to improve the existing system. Instead of using existing revenues to improve an existing revenue collecting infrastructure the WSLCB has basically hit a big reset button.