Industry News

Tracing Cannabis from Seed to Extraction to Sale

Written by Nicholas Demski

Do cannabis tracing systems work, what purpose do they serve, and does cannabis tracking create a safer industry?

You haven’t eaten in 18 hours, but you will soon. Your belly grumbles. You focus on the ground, looking for shifts in the dirt, misplaced leaves, and broken twigs. Your wolf companion strolls just behind you, bent low and sniffing the ground. You pass through some brush, push past a few low branches and the landscape opens up. There you see it: a whitetail deer roughly 40 yards away. The bow and quiver on your back are why you’ve been tracking this animal from the first sight of its fresh feces through its muddled tracks to now.

Learning how to track something would be an important skill if you were a solitary hunter living 10,000 years ago with the wolf you befriended. Learning to track things now is just as important in the cannabis industry. Here’s what you need to know about tracking cannabis from seed to extraction to sale.

In order to trace the origins of cannabis on the market, it’s possible to look for certain hydrogen and carbon isotope ratios. [1] That’s what one report in the International Journal on Drug Policy did when it sought the origins of black market cannabis for sale in the United States. They identified imported cannabis from Canada and Mexico as well as indoor-grown cannabis from throughout the USA.

However, that’s not the kind of cannabis tracing that we’re discussing in this article. To follow precisely the seed-to-sale movement of cannabis requires detailed record-keeping and specialized software.

Some companies have their own cannabis tracing systems. Companies like MJ Freeway created a proprietary software that allows producers, processors, distributors, and retailers to have access to data-driven software. It can help manage yields and test results in an extraction lab, as well as handle the profit projections and expense reductions of a cultivator. Since they can even keep track of deliveries, that means that the regulatory bodies can keep an eye on where cannabis is moving from seed to extraction to sale.

The regulatory control involved with seed-to-sale tracking systems helps customers know where their products are coming from and who’s handled them. It’s also a requirement in most states, including California, where it’s claimed the software makes it easier to block the “illegal inversion and diversion” of cannabis products.

While it may not be as exciting as tracking down a 150-lb animal with your wolf sidekick, Track and Trace is a good way for the industry to empower the consumer and help ensure seed-to-sale traceability should a product’s history need to be investigated.


  1. Hurley, et al. “Tracing retail cannabis in the United States: geographic origin and cultivation patterns”. Int J. Drug Policy. 2010. 21; 3: 222-8. [Times Cited = 26; Journal Impact Factor = 4.244]

About the author

Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski's latest venture is He's a poet, author, cannabis writer, and budding entrepreneur. You can follow his travels with his daughter on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram @TheSingleDadNoma