By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission met on Thursday to select software company METRC for seed-to-sale tracking.
Now that the commission has backed this choice, the state can move forward with contract negotiations. If solidified, the contract would be subject to approval though the legislative contract review process.
METRC’s software system will keep track of cannabis use and production around the state from the time it’s planted until it’s sold. AMCC Director John McMillan said it will also “ensure regulatory compliance and protect consumer safety.”
“METRC is by far one of the best companies in the country regarding this,” commission member Sam Blakemore said.
Brittany Peters, Communications Director for AMCC, said that the decision to choose METRC was unanimous among the team of evaluators who studied the proposals. She said they scored METRC the highest in every category, from experience to functional requirements and pricing of the software.
Peters also said that 16 states already have contracts with METRC for their tracking system, and the company has a 100% contract renewal rate with other entities. Alabama’s contract with the company would be for three years.
Commission member Judge Charles Price said that he preferred the contract be granted to an Alabama company. However, McMillan said no Alabama companies submitted proposals.
The only vote against the contract approval was Loree Skelton. She opposed on the grounds that the evaluation team should not have been anonymous and all the proposals that were submitted should be available for the public to see.
“I have some serious concerns and considerations about the transparency,” Skelton said. “I do not have sufficient information [to vote to approve METRC].”
McMillan responded that anonymity is often the protocol when working with requests for proposals like this. He said that this ensures the state’s ability to work with some of these companies on other projects in the future.
Regarding the evaluation team, Peters said that members were chosen specifically for their background and experience and that they were all state employees.
“We tried to pick members who were familiar with these types of software systems and who would be needing them,” she said.
Since Alabama legalized medical cannabis in May of 2021 and created the AMCC, the commission has been working to have everything ready by Sept. for people to begin applying for licenses.
“We don’t have any downtime. We cannot wait,” Rex Vaughn, vice chairman, said.
The commission is now working to solidify the rules and regulations for medical cannabis use in the state. They heard some concerns over the current rules at a public hearing on Thursday. Commission members will continue to review and possibly amend those rules and meet again on Aug. 11 to vote on them.