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Simplifying Metrc Terms and Best Practices

Written by Amanda Drapes on Apr 26, 2021

As we all know, the terminology across the cannabis industry is inconsistent and often vague. Enter Metrc where at times it may seem like half the battle is figuring out what it is exactly you are expected to put in each line item, or what button creates clones, vs packages, vs split plant groups. Luckily, we have already been through that learning curve and are here to help guide you. 

As we've experienced the Metrc rollout across California, Oregon, Michigan, Oklahoma and other states over the past year, we've found recurring confusion on the same terms within Metrc and how those terms apply to Metrc, the physical cultivation process, and management tools like GroLens, so we built a digestible quick look guide to the 6 most questioned and misunderstood terms we've encountered. 


6 Confusing Metrc Terms Simplified

RFID Tags:

RFID tags refer to the physical plant and package tags you order through Metrc that allow states the ability to automatically and uniquely identify and track and trace inventory and assets. RFID technology makes tags so they are able to be read without a line of sight and, depending on the type of RFID, having a read range between a few centimeters to over 20+ meters. The COTS RFID tags assigned to you are programmed by Metrc and are specifically assigned to that facility. Tags cannot be moved, reassigned, or reused. 

The RFID tag is made up of several components, the RFID chip, the antenna the chip uses to send and receive its unique ID number with the substrate the RFID tag is attached to. This assembly is referred to as an RFID inlay and shown in the figure below.

Cultivations will receive two types of RFID tags, plant and package, with plant packages utilized to track your plants pre-harvest, and package post-harvest.

You can learn more about your tags lifecycle, how to order tags, and how to receive and activate your tags on our blog

Zones / Rooms / Locations

Zones, Rooms, and Locations are all used interchangeably to reference the locations used to house your plants and product throughout any part of the growth process. These locations should be created in your GroLens upon creation of your account and will push to Metrc automatically, but can also also be added at any time. Some best practices to help keep you compliant:

  • Your Zones/Rooms/Locations should correlate directly with the site map provided to the state during your application process. If/when there are changes or updated to your zones/rooms/locations, you should always submit an updated site map to the state. A good rule of thumb for correlation would be if anyone was given your plant information from GroLens/Metrc and your state submitted site map, they would be able to easily locate your plant group without aid. 
  • Zones/Rooms/Locations must be kept up to date at all times. Any time during the cultivation process that a plant/plant group is moved.
  • Don't overcomplicate it. Overcomplication of your rooms will create more work. Keep it simple, broad, and just stick with assigning plants to an overall Zone. Dont break the zone down into smaller zones just for the sake of adding detail. Only do this should it be required for a reason of compliance or efficiency.

Source Package Tag ID:

'Source Package Tag IDs' are the Metrc package tag numbers assigned to your clones/seeds/flower while in package form. These tag numbers are located by going to Metrc > Packages > Active. The request for these would apply to multiple situations and serve different but similar functions as outlined below:

  • Creating New Plant Groups 
    When creating new plant groups you will need to provide the tag number from the package you are pulling your clones or seeds from
  • Creating Clones from Mothers 
    When cloning, Metrc requires cultivations to "package" their clones prior to placing them into a plant group in order to ensure they have a source package number assigned. To make things easier on our users, GroLens automatically packages the clones, then unpacks them into plant groups keeping our users from having to manually create the packages, then create the plant groups from the packages. NOTE: The package tags "used" in this process can be marked as used and then stored with the other used tags.
    Learn more about how to manage your tags here.
  • Repackaging of Existing Packages 
    When repackaging any packages (splitting, repacking, merging) you will be required to provide the original package tag numbers - aka the 'Source Package Tag IDs' - from all existing packages included in the action. 

Metrc 'Items': 

'Items' are what defines the contents of your Metrc packages and are specific to each package's strain, category, and unit of measure.  The Item 'category' options vary from state to state but in general all will include: flower, immature plants, kief, seeds, shake (trim), whole wet plant (fresh frozen), waste etc.

Learn more about Metrc's Items guidelines here.


Immature and Mature Plants

Plants are designated as immature and mature differently by state, however, in all states it is referring to the age and current state of growth the plants are actively in.


Immature Plants

All new plantings (seed and clone) populate as Immature plants upon creation and are grouped and identified in plant groups to manage the high-loss probability within this phase. 

  • California, Colorado, Oregon | 
  • Michigan, Oklahoma |

Mature Plants

Mature plants are considered plants post veg while in the Flowering stage and are found under the Flower tab/column in both Metrc and GroLens. In states like California, Colorado, and Oregon, individual tags are applied as plants are moved into the Mature/Flower phase, while in states like MI and OK, individual tags would have already been applied in the Vegetative phase.



Waste is defined as any byproduct removed from a cannabis plant to be disposed of. Waste must be rendered 'unrecognizable' prior to disposal, and the methods for disposal are defined by each state. Waste must be recorded in Metrc, most states allow submission within 3 days of waste creation, but in Oklahoma, OMMA requires it be recorded same-day. Waste can be reported by Immature Batch, individual plant, groups of plants, or Room. So basically, any part of a cannabis plant disposed of should be treated as waste and weighed, recorded, and rendered unrecognizable. 




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