Cannabis Dispensary Technology


Guide To Cannabis Dispensary Tech 101

Cannabis dispensaries require dispensary technology for seamless operations. But are aware of what dispensary technology you need, and how can you find the best fit for your needs?  
This eBook presents a detailed breakdown of the IT requirements necessary for your retail store to flourish. 

Join us as we delve into the realm of dispensary IT necessities, offering insights for a tech-forward approach to success in the cannabis industry. 

New York Cannabis Tech Requirements 

The Track and Trace system, managed by the New York Office of Cannabis Management, promises to revolutionize the way cannabis is monitored from seed to sale. Let’s delve into the essential components of this system and what it means for businesses in the Empire State. 

Software Systems 

New York has chosen BioTrack as its Track and Trace system software. It is a comprehensive tool for monitoring every stage of the cannabis journey. From the moment a seed finds its home in the soil to the final sale to a consumer, BioTrack ensures that every step is accounted for. This track-and-trace software is also known as traceability or seed-to-sale. 

Internet Connection 

A robust Wi-Fi connection is not just a luxury but a necessity for cannabis companies operating in New York. Especially so when you have to submit track and trace data daily. Not having an internet connection isn’t a valid excuse for not submitting your data on time as required. 

What Needs to Be Tracked 

The BioTrack software is designed to be all-encompassing, capturing a wealth of data related to cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation, and sale. Here’s a glimpse of what businesses need to track: 

  • Inventory Management 
  • Compliance Reporting 
  • Transport Movement 
  • Real-Time Product Recalls 
  • Personalized Labels 

This meticulous tracking not only ensures compliance but also optimizes inventory management for businesses, allowing for smoother operations and better decision-making. 

Surveillance System 

In compliance with New York’s cannabis regulations, businesses are required to maintain a vigilant surveillance system. Here are some key requirements: 

  • Video Cameras: Installed in all areas handling cannabis products. 
  • Clear Identification: Cameras must identify individuals at entry and exit points. 
  • Recording Standards: Date/time stamps on recordings, functional during power outages. 
  • Retention Period: Recordings must be kept for a minimum of 60 days. 

How Long Do You Need to Keep Records? 

According to New York’s cannabis laws, continuous recordings are mandatory during operational hours and whenever cannabis products are handled. Records must be retained for a minimum of 60 days, providing a detailed trail of operations for regulatory purposes. 

Any Other Requirements 

To maintain the integrity of the Track and Trace system, businesses must adhere to additional requirements: 

  • Security Equipment Testing: Conduct biannual tests on all security equipment. 
  • Record Keeping: Maintain records of security tests for five years. 
  • Access Control: Restrict access to security measures to authorized personnel. 
  • Failure Notification System: Promptly alert designated representatives of any surveillance system malfunctions. 

Know more about New York cannabis dispensary tech requirements here.

What’s A Track And Trace System, And How Does It Work 

The track-and-trace system monitors the complete journey of plants, from their initial stages as seeds to their final sale at dispensaries, involving growers, processors, dispensaries, and testing facilities. Regulators, responsible for ensuring the secure and safe transactions of cannabis products, have unrestricted access to this cloud-based system. 

Each plant receives unique identification numbers within the system, facilitating easy tracing back to the actual inventory available at dispensaries. Furthermore, the system seamlessly integrates HIPAA compliance, as certain sales are medically prescribed or linked to medical use. This ensures that any requirements for HIPAA compliance are automatically managed by the track-and-trace system. 

Types of Track and Trace Systems 

  1. Barcode or QR Code Systems – Each cannabis product is assigned a unique barcode or QR code that contains information about its origin, cultivation, processing, and distribution. This code is scanned at various points along the supply chain to track the product’s journey from seed to sale. 
  1. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags – RFID tags use radio waves to transmit data stored on a tag attached to each cannabis product. These tags can be scanned quickly and from a distance, allowing for efficient tracking and tracing of products through the supply chain. 
  1. Seed-to-Sale Software Platforms – Comprehensive software platforms are used to track cannabis products from the moment they are planted as seeds to the point of sale. These platforms often integrate various tracking technologies, including barcodes, RFID, and batch/lot numbers, and provide real-time visibility into inventory, production, and distribution processes. 
  1. GPS and Geolocation Tracking – Some track and trace systems utilize GPS and geolocation technologies to monitor the movement of cannabis products in real time. This is particularly useful for tracking shipments during transportation and ensuring compliance with regulations regarding the transportation of cannabis across state or national borders. 

What Does A Track And Trace System Do? 

A cannabis plant is given a unique ID at the time of sowing, and this ID is used to track the plant during all stages of its life, including harvesting, processing, packing, and distribution. 

How Do Track And Trace Systems Work? 

With the use of RFID tags, track and trace systems enable regulators to identify the origin of a particular product or plant by scanning it. The requirements for RFID tags will differ depending on your state. Operators must use an RFID tag on every plant and every packed final product in most states. 

 Track and trace systems use the following elements to function: 

  1. Unique Identifiers – Each cannabis plant or batch of products is assigned a unique identifier, such as a serial number, barcode, or RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tag. This identifier is used to track the product from cultivation to sale. 
  1. Data Capture – At various points in the supply chain, such as cultivation facilities, processing centers, and distribution hubs, relevant data about the product is captured and recorded. This data can include information about the plant’s origin, growth conditions, testing results, and more. 

How Do You Use Track And Trace System? 

It depends on the state and whether or not you’re using third-party software or not and what exactly you’re doing at your business, but in general, track and trace systems work like this: 

  • Log in to the platform or your integrated third-party software 
  • You enter tracking data as you work.  
  • You place RFID tags and labels on your products as required. 
  • You must ensure that the data is submitted, either instantly or at the end of the day. If the system is down, the state may allow you to submit your data once the system comes back online.  

Most People Use Third-Party Software To Integrate With It 

By integrating a track and trace system with third-party software, businesses can increase productivity and optimize their operations. Several tasks, including data entry and reporting, can be automated by third-party software, saving time and reducing the risk of human error. 

Beyond what is provided by track and trace systems, third-party software solutions can offer additional analytics and reporting features. Businesses may make data-driven decisions and gain greater insights into their operations with the help of these features. 


You should get in touch with your third-party integrator if you have any issues or are having trouble integrating. They will be able to assist with the troubleshooting of the API. 

Know more about track and trace systems here

What You Need In Your Dispensary Tech Stack 

POS Software 

For cannabis businesses to maximize their inventory management and successfully navigate the complex realm of regulatory compliance in every state, a robust point-of-sale (POS) system is required. Additionally, all POS systems need software to work, so pick the best one for your company. 

POS Hardware 

Cannabis Point of Sale (POS) hardware facilitates transactions in dispensaries and retail stores. It includes: 

  • Touchscreen Monitor 
  • Cash Drawer 
  • Barcode Scanner 
  • Receipt Printer 
  • Label Printer 
  • Card Reader/EMV Terminal 
  • Customer Display 
  • Weighing Scale 
  • Security Features 

Barcode Scanners 

Barcode scanners are essential for retail operations. They offer easy, quick item scanning at the point of sale, greatly enhancing the efficiency and speed of the sales process. Additionally, they’re quite beneficial when managing cannabis retail inventory. 

Receipt Printers 

Receipt printers are needed to complete a transaction. As the name implies, these devices print payment receipts for customers that contain purchase-related data such as the product name and number, price, date and time of purchase, and more. These receipts act as written documentation of the transaction and maintain customer transparency. 

Cash Drawers 

Until banks are given federal permission to accept payments, cash will continue to be the primary means of payment for cannabis businesses. Therefore, dispensaries will require cash drawers. 

Card Readers 

Card readers serve as essential tools for facilitating electronic payments. These devices play a pivotal role in ensuring smooth and secure transactions for both customers and businesses. Cannabis card readers are equipped to handle credit and debit card payments, adhering to strict industry standards and regulations to safeguard sensitive financial information. 

Menu Board Displays and Software 

Cannabis retail stores require software and menu board displays to provide customers with complete product information, costs, and deals. With their dynamic, real-time updates, these digital displays display products in an engaging manner. 

Surveillance System Hardware and Software 

For safety reasons, every cannabis dispensary must have 24/7 video surveillance. Implement surveillance for key areas, such as the sales floor, entrance, point of sale (POS) area, and safe storage areas. 

Networking Hardware 

Here’s a breakdown of network hardware essential components: 

Firewall- It serves as a line of defense between your internal network and outside threats by monitoring and managing all network traffic incoming and outgoing. 

UPS – Provides backup power in case of electrical outages, ensuring continuous operation of critical networking equipment like the firewall, switches, and servers. 

Switch – Facilitates communication between devices within your network, allowing them to share data and resources effectively. 

Rack – Provides a structured framework for organizing and mounting your networking hardware, optimizing space and ensuring easy access for maintenance and upgrades. 

Back office IT – Encompasses the personnel, software, and systems responsible for managing and maintaining your network infrastructure, including configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, and security management. 

Know more about the cannabis tech stack here

Setting Up Your Dispensary’s Network  

Setting up your dispensary’s network involves several key components to ensure smooth operations and security. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need: 

Electrical – Ensure your dispensary has adequate electrical infrastructure to support the network equipment without overloading circuits. Consider consulting with an electrician to assess and potentially upgrade your electrical setup. 

Low Voltage – Low voltage wiring is essential for connecting various network components such as security cameras, access control systems, and VoIP phones. Plan and install low-voltage wiring strategically to accommodate these devices throughout your dispensary. 

Internet – Choose a reliable internet service provider (ISP) that offers sufficient bandwidth and uptime for your dispensary’s needs. Opt for a business-grade internet connection with speeds suitable for handling both customer transactions and internal operations. 

Local Network Components 

Firewall – Install a robust firewall to protect your dispensary’s network from unauthorized access, malware, and other cyber threats. Configure the firewall to enforce security policies and control traffic entering and leaving your network. 

Switches – Deploy managed switches to connect various devices within your dispensary’s network. Managed switches offer advanced features such as VLAN support, Quality of Service (QoS) prioritization, and port mirroring for enhanced network management and performance. 

Hardwire Connections – Utilize Ethernet cables for hardwired connections between network devices, including computers, POS systems, printers, and security appliances. Hardwired connections offer greater reliability and security compared to wireless connections. 

Wi-Fi – Set up secure Wi-Fi access points to provide wireless connectivity for employees and guests within your dispensary. Implement strong encryption, such as WPA3, and regularly update Wi-Fi passwords to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. 

Know more about IT setup for dispensaries here

What To Look For In An IT Company For Your Dispensary   

When considering an IT company for your dispensary, several key factors should be taken into account to ensure optimal support for your business operations: 

  1. Industry Experience – Look for an IT company with significant experience in serving businesses within the cannabis industry. Familiarity with the unique challenges, regulations, and technology needs specific to dispensaries will ensure tailored solutions and smoother integration processes. 
  1. Track Record – Evaluate the company’s track record by examining past projects and client testimonials. A proven record of successfully implementing IT solutions, addressing issues promptly, and providing ongoing support is essential for reliability and peace of mind. 
  1. Cannabis Specific Expertise – Seek out an IT company that understands the nuances of the cannabis industry, including compliance requirements, security concerns, and specialized software needs. This expertise will enable them to offer tailored solutions that align with your business goals and regulatory obligations. 
  1. 24/7 Availability – Choose an IT company that offers round-the-clock support to address any technical issues or emergencies promptly. Given the nature of the cannabis business, downtime can result in significant losses, making responsive support crucial for minimizing disruptions. 
  1. Scalability – Choose an IT partner capable of supporting your dispensary’s growth and expansion plans. Scalability in terms of infrastructure, software solutions, and support services ensures that your IT systems can accommodate increased demand and evolving business needs without major disruptions. 

Learn more about choosing an IT company for your dispensary here

Common Dispensary IT Mistakes To Avoid  

Buying Consumer-Grade Hardware 

Choosing consumer-grade computers, tablets, or networking equipment for a dispensary might seem cost-effective, but these devices are not designed for the demands of a commercial setting. Dispensaries need sturdy hardware capable of continuous operation, data processing, and security. Opting for business-grade equipment guarantees reliability and durability, leading to long-term cost savings. 

Reinventing the IT Wheel In Every Store 

Dispensary chains and businesses with multiple locations benefit from standardizing IT systems and procedures. Creating uniform IT setups across stores minimizes complexity, eases management, and simplifies troubleshooting. Implementing standardized protocols, hardware configurations, and software applications ensures streamlined operations, cost reduction, and consistent service delivery. 

Not Planning Ahead 

Successful IT management for dispensaries involves proactive planning. Rather than waiting for system failures or security breaches, businesses should have a well-rounded IT plan. This plan should include regular maintenance, upgrades, data backups, and security audits. 

Reacting to IT, Not Managing It 

Tech should not be a fire-fighting exercise where businesses only address problems as they arise. Instead, dispensaries should take a proactive approach to IT management. This includes regular assessments of technology needs, software updates, employee training on IT best practices, and strategic planning for future growth. 

Thinking an IT Helpdesk Is a Nice-To-Have, Not a Must-Have 

An IT helpdesk is not just a luxury for dispensaries; it is a necessity. Whether it’s assisting employees with software issues, troubleshooting hardware problems, or addressing security concerns, a dedicated IT support team is invaluable. Outsourcing IT support to a managed service provider (MSP) can provide cost-effective solutions while ensuring timely assistance when needed. 

Assuming You’re Not a Target for Hackers 

Dispensaries are prime targets for cybercriminals due to the sensitive customer data they store, such as personal information and payment details. Many businesses make the mistake of assuming they are too small to be of interest to hackers. However, any organization that processes transactions or stores customer data is at risk. Investing in robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, encryption, and regular security assessments, is essential for safeguarding sensitive information. 

Hiring In-House 

While having an in-house IT team may seem beneficial, it can be costly and inefficient for smaller dispensaries. Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled IT professionals can strain budgets and resources. Alternatively, outsourcing IT services to specialized providers allows dispensaries to access a team of experts at a fraction of the cost. These external partners bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and industry best practices to enhance the dispensary’s IT infrastructure. 

Know more about Common Dispensary IT Mistakes To Avoid by subscribing to the eBook.                                                             

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