Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Program Interrupted Due to Software Glitch

cbdtrendzSeptember 19, 20196min150
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Patients in Pennsylvania were denied access to medical marijuana on Tuesday, the result of a crash in the system used to track sales. 

All such transactions in the state are processed through a tracking software system called MJ Freeway, which is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under the medical cannabis law there. 

But the system suffered intermittent glitches for about 90 minutes on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for MJ Freeway, which stymied both producers and consumers. As a result, dispensaries throughout the state were unable to complete transactions to patients, and growers could not complete shipments to dispensaries because there was no way to log them in the system.

“It may have felt longer because it was intermittent,” MJ Freeway spokesperson Jeannette Horton told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re very apologetic for the issues they experienced. Today, we’re hearing it’s all been resolved.”

The state of Pennsylvania has an exclusive $11 million contract with MJ Freeway, which is based in Colorado, to track medical marijuana, but the Inquirer described the company’s software as being “prone to chronic glitches.”

Christina Visco, president of TerraVida Holistic Centers, a company that operates three dispensaries in the Philadelphia suburbs, told the Inquirer that Tuesday’s glitches were frustrating for many patients.

“We turned away literally hundreds of patients yesterday,” Visco said. “The system was down all morning, came back up for a couple of hours, then crashed again.”

“I had product I couldn’t sell to anyone yesterday,” she added. “It never left my vault.”

It’s not the first setback for MJ Freeway’s tracking software in Pennsylvania. Last year, a number of cannabis retailers in the state were forced to suspend sales due to glitches and slowdowns with the company’s system. MJ Freeway has also dealt with glitches in Washington, where it also has a contract to track medical marijuana. 

The company’s software platform was also the subject of an apparent hack in 2017, which triggered outages at 1,000 marijuana retailers across more than 20 states. 

In an interview last year, MJ Freeway co-founder Amy Poinsett defended the company’s products, and said that improvements were being made following the 2017 hack.

“Could the hack have been prevented? Yes and no,” Poinsett told Marijuana Business Daily. “Now we know the specific points of vulnerability, they’ve been fortified, and we’ve added many additional layers of security. However, as systems age and hackers get more sophisticated, the vulnerabilities are ever-changing. So, in theory, every hack is preventable, and yet hacks are never 100% preventable. No company can claim they will never have one. Any company that says so is either lying or unsophisticated. We suffered outages in 2017 that were not related to cyberattacks. We owned that and resolved that by launching MJ Platform, a much more stable, modern, elegant architecture.”

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016 after Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation allowing the treatment for more than a dozen qualifying conditions. MJ Freeway was awarded its contract with the state the following year.

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