Jeff Wells is the CEO of Metrc, the leading provider of track-and-trace systems for cannabis regulators, based in Lakeland, Florida. He answered the following questions for Business View Magazine’s Front of Book section.
BVM: What does Metrc do?
Wells: “We help regulators see where cannabis products are, where they came from, and what’s in them. In 1993 I started Franwell – our founding company – that provided supply chain solutions to the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Now, Metrc’s software, RFID technology, and support teams track cannabis products from seed to sale, ensuring a closed, legal ecosystem. Our solution ensures a secure supply chain, transparency, and public health and provides a safe marketplace for everyone. We support twelve states, the District of Columbia, and over 15,000 business licenses.”
BVM: How did the company fare in 2019?
Wells: “Last year was a busy one for us. We closed out a record year of business, serving more than 121,000 users and helping states record more than $11.5 billion in cannabis industry sales. And our team grew by 60 percent, now numbering over 100 employees. This includes key hires in the company’s executive suite: Lewis Koski as COO and Jesse Naranjo as CTO. Koski was director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, where he helped build the first state agency to develop and implement medical and adult-use cannabis policy. Naranjo was promoted to CTO after serving as the company’s leading software developer since 2012. I truly believe that our continued investment in our people will make 2020 another banner year for us.”
BVM: How does Metrc serve its employees, as well as the emerging cannabis industry?
Wells: “Metrc is a small business based in central Florida. We are proud of how much we’ve grown our team and are committed to their financial wellness, raising the wages of our frontline support staff by 25 percent, and launching a 401(k) program and generous company match last year.
“But outside of our company, I like to think that we’ve had a positive impact on the industry. We’ve helped normalize cannabis in every state where we operate by bringing transparency to a marketplace that had only operated underground. No two states have the same legal framework, and Metrc’s technology helps regulators monitor their unique industry and protect public safety in an ever-evolving landscape. Just last year, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor called Metrc the ‘cornerstone of the state’s regulatory structure for medical and retail marijuana,’ and multiple states used our system to identify and prevent harmful cannabis vaping products from being sold during the statewide ban. For a 120-person firm, I think that’s pretty impressive.”
BVM: What’s in the future for Metrc?
Wells: “It’s safe to say medical and adult-use cannabis will continue to be legalized within the United States and around the world, presenting new markets for companies across the board. But as the cannabis industry matures, data will become the most prized commodity for both industry and regulators. Right now, there’s just not the same amount of information as other industries on things like production benchmarks, health impacts, and product provenance. For our part, we’re looking forward to partnering with new states and countries on the cannabis supply chain, offering world-class regulatory advice, training, customer support, and – of course – technology.”