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Michigan Chooses Florida-Based Company To Run Statewide Medical Marijuana 'seed-To-Sale' Tracking System


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LANSING — A Florida-based software company has been chosen for a nearly $450,000 contract to manage Michigan's new medical marijuana tracking system.

Lakeland, Fla.-based Franwell Inc. has been recommended for a $447,625 award from a pool of 11 companies that bid to run Michigan's statewide tracking system, which was created through legislation Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law last year.

A formal contract has not yet been completed, according to a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The system will require the "seed-to-sale" tracking of marijuana products. It was part of a three-bill package that also creates a new tiered licensing system for various segments of the state's medical marijuana industry, including growers, provisioning centers or dispensaries and compliance testing labs.

Franwell's proposal includes a hosting charge to the state of $35,000 per year for the first two years, as well as in each of five annual contract extension options. The company also noted an additional cost of required tags for tracking plants and packages.

The state licensing department will oversee the medical marijuana program through LARA's new Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation.

Franwell will run Michigan's program through a software program it developed called METRC, which stands for Marijuana Enforcement, Reporting, Tracking and Compliance, said Scott Denholm, executive director of METRC for Franwell. It will assign unique identification numbers to marijuana products starting with the grower until they arrive at dispensaries for sale or transfer to registered medical marijuana cardholders, per Michigan's law. The products will be able to be traced back to the grower and the plant from which they are sourced.

Franwell was founded in 1993 and provides software and support services for the agriculture and air cargo industries; for supply chains that handle cold items for grocery stores, such as produce, meat and vegetables; for property and evidence tracking for police departments; and for government agencies that track marijuana, both medical and recreational, Denholm said.

Franwell employs 65 people, according to its proposal, and has two offices in Lakeland and in Nashville, Tenn.

The company has contracted with government regulatory agencies in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Maryland to run marijuana tracking programs. Denholm said its marijuana business contracts only with government agencies and not with other industry groups, such as growers or dispensaries.

Denholm would not disclose revenue figures for the privately held company, though Franwell disclosed in its proposal to the state that its METRC division had $4.9 million in gross sales in 2016, up from roughly $3 million in 2015 and $2.6 million in 2014.

It is not immediately clear whether Franwell was the lowest bidder, or how it ranked against other bidding companies. The state did not make bid documents publicly available for all 11 companies that submitted proposals, and requested that a reporter file a request under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act to review them.

Other bidding companies include: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Bio-Tech Medical Software Inc. dba BioTrackTHC; Denver-based MJ Freeway LLC; Superior Technology Solutions Corp., which registered an address with the state in Macomb; Trusted Track LLC, which registered an address in Canton Township with the state; Jacksonville, Fla.-based Veritec Solutions LLC; Northumberland, Pa.-based Keystone Validation Group Inc.; CS Platform Technologies, Inc. (bid documents were not made publicly available and the company's website does not list a headquarters location); Florida-based Zeni Software LLC; Los Angeles-based Kind Agrisoft, LLC; and Redmond, Wash.-based Dauntless Software Inc.



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