Capital Bureau

SALEM — Oregon’s pot regulators want their seed-to-sale tracking system to use the same microchip technology that helps jewelry stores manage large inventories of valuables.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, said radio frequency identification signal, or RFID, technology will be the most efficient method for the agency to monitor recreational pot as it moves through the supply chain. So Patridge and other officials at the agency were surprised earlier this week when a new version of a broad bill to help set up the new legal pot system included a requirement for the commission to use barcodes, not RFID, to track marijuana.

“We just explained to legislators that bar coding won’t work for us,” Patridge said on Tuesday. “It will have a substantial effect on the number of people we have to hire. So it got changed back in the last draft (legislation).”

Patridge said he did not know who inserted the language that would have required a barcode tracking system, but the Oregon Liquor Control Commission had previous told lawmakers it intended to use RFID.

“The reason we asked for it is because it has substantial impact on our budget otherwise,” Patridge said. If the system relied only on barcodes, regulators would have to scan each individually whereas “with RFID they can scan the entire thing with a wand and then hand audit as well,” Patridge said.

Patridge said tags in Oregon’s tracking system will likely contain both RFID and barcodes so that growers who do not want to purchase RFID scanners can use the bar codes to track their inventory. Colorado’s cannabis tracking system uses RFID, while Washington uses barcodes.

Oregon’s selection of a pot tracking system has already become contentious. In May, the company BioTrackTHC filed a lawsuit against the state after officials selected a different company, Franwell, to provide the new pot tracking system. The contract is worth $1.7 million, according to Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokesman Tom Towslee.

Franwell provides the tracking system used by Colorado marijuana regulators while BioTrackTHC provides the pot tracking system used in Washington.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Insider newsletter. To subscribe, go to oregoncapitalinsider.com

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