The crash of MJ Freeway, a widely-used cannabis business software, is making it difficult for budtenders to manage their jobs and to assist those they serve.
Budtenders are on the front lines when it comes to interaction with customers and patients. And although they may handle the register, budtenders are required to know a lot more than simply how to calculate the correct change.
A quality budtender listens to customers, notices trends, and makes recommendations. It is equal parts cannabis knowledge and understanding people.
Earlier this week, we reported on the mass outage of MJ Freeway, a cannabis business software used to facilitate transactions and manage inventory, and compliance issues. The outage has caused more than a bit of chaos throughout the cannabis industry.
“The MJ Freeway outage has dramatically impacted my job as a budtender,” said Emma Chasen, who works at Portland’s Farma dispensary. Farma dispenses cannabis to both recreational customers and medical patients.
“With MJFreeway down, all transactions must be manually recorded. This includes the customer’s name, birth date, all of the product they are purchasing with all of the product information (Product name, amount, sku, and METRC ID), the total (with tax and without),” she said.
Chasen feels her focus has been diverted from where it should be. “Recording this information requires meticulous attention from the budtender and absolutely detracts from the customer experience,” she noted. “I think the most important job of a budtender is to actively listen to the customer. Unfortunately, manual transactions require you to turn your attention away from the customer, so that you can make sure you are recording their order properly.”
Some shops felt the need to close, at least temporarily, due to the MJ Freeway crash. Farma has kept its doors open. “Luckily, we have the best customers and they have been incredibly understanding of the longer wait and transaction times,” Chasen said.
This morning Farma was able to access a scaled-down version of MJ Freeway. Of course, the headache for Chasen did not simply end there. “Just this morning I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to begin inputting information into this ‘skeleton system,'” she said.
Authorities are not exactly letting Oregon shops off the hook. “Due to state regulations, we still have to upload our sales report to METRC every day. That entails meticulously transcribing pages of written transaction spreadsheets into a CSV file, creating more overtime work,” she said.
Errors in properly recording data can get a cannabis shop in serious trouble with authorities. “If an order is not recorded properly it could be mean serious inventory and compliance problems,” Chasen explained.
To some, this may seem like a simple inconvenience for those looking to have fun with cannabis or for the individuals working in the industry. For those in desperate need of relief, the issue is more than a minor frustration. Medical cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Many patients rely on their buying history and recommendations that are recorded through MJ Freeway to identify their ideal medicine. Without that information, patients could be left guessing as to what they purchased on a previous visit.
MJ Freeway has attributed the outage to a cyber attack. “We are incredibly sorry for the impact this outage is having on our clients,” MJ Freeway stated on its web page.
“The MJ Freeway outage is stressful for everyone; dispensary staff, customers and MJFreeway. No one is benefiting from this,” Chasen said.