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Software delay disrupts state's cannabis industry

The state's brand new "seed-to-sale" traceability software platform won't be ready to launch at the end of the month.

Washington state's cannabis industry is scrambling to find a temporary fix to a state software problem.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board notified businesses just last week. Its brand new "seed-to-sale" traceability software platform won't be ready to launch at the end of the month.

Inside every pot shop, every product it sells has detailed data that goes with it. The supplier, the brand, the SKU number -- all information that goes into the state database, to make sure every plant is accounted for.

Whether they grow pot or sell it, every business is required enter the data into the system. To help do this, the state offers free software, which was supposed to switch to a new vendor, MJ Freeway, at the end of the month.

When MJ Freeway announced a delay, business owners started to panic, fearing it could impact supply and sales.

In a statement to KING 5, the WSLCB said it "...made the critical decision to prepare to implement our contingency plan." On its website, it has provided a spreadsheet businesses can download, and fill out, by hand, for every item.

"That would be a nightmare," said Melissa Champoux, who is the inventory lead at Hashtag, a retailer in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. "It would be very easy to make a one-digit error in a 16 digit code."

It's not just a headache for the person in charge of inventory, but the business owner as well, who has to pay staff for the extra time it takes to enter the data.

"It raises the cost of everything we sell so we have to pass on a higher cost to the consumer," said Logan Bowers, Hashtag's owner.

"It increases the risk our business will be shut down by the federal government or be more thoroughly scrutinized," he said.

The LCB insists the impact is limited, saying only a quarter of the 1900 licensees uses the state's software. But members of its advisory board aren't certain it won't have widespread impact.

"We're all stressed out," said Jeremy Moberg of CannaSol Farms in Okanagan.

Moberg is worried about it disrupting the supply chain. He believes the state consider dumping the database and regulate the industry through audits instead.

"This has been quite a hassle," said Moberg. "It's going to continue to be quite a hassle and maybe they should leave it up to third parties to handle in the future."

The new traceability platform is expected to be ready on January 1, 2018. LCB and the advisory board said they're still working to come up with a better temporary solution.