As legal sales of recreational marijuana began in Washington on Tuesday, a South Florida technology company was also making history: BioTrackTHC, which offers software that tracks cannabis from seed to sale, is powering the Washington State Marijuana Traceability System.

BioTrackTHC, based in Fort Lauderdale, won the Washington state contract last fall to develop what it says is the first state seed-to-sale real-time monitoring system in the United States. The company, founded about seven years ago, develops software to enable governments and businesses to track legal cannabis production, testing, transportation, destruction and sales.

The state monitoring system tracks both the inventory and the taxable sales amounts associated with transactions, enabling the state to maximize revenue collections while holding legal cannabis growers and dispensaries accountable for the whereabouts of their inventories. The system allows the Washington government to view, in real time, every gram of legal cannabis in the life cycle within the state, said Patrick Vo, chief operating officer of BioTrackTHC and its parent company, Bio-Tech Medical Software.

When a business propagates a new plant, either by seed or clone, BioTrackTHC’s system generates a globally unique non-repeating 15-digit identifier.

“It’s not the same as tracking cantaloupes, because every single gram needs to be accounted for,” Vo explained. “There needs to be unbroken accountability from seed to sale and that is what our system does. . . . Whatever side you are on politically, everyone can get behind transparency.”

BioTrackTHC’s business software has already been used in nearly 500 medicinal cannabis cultivation and retail operations in eight U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Canada. And if Florida voters approve medicinal marijuana in the November election, “we definitely look forward to seeing a transparent, well-tracked, well-run industry in our home state,” Vo added.

The parent company was incorporated in 2007 and developed tracking software to combat the Oxycontin problem in Florida, Vo said. About five years ago, it also began targeting the legal marijuana industry, and its BioTrackTHC division has become its primary business. The companies have 40 employees and have offices in Fort Lauderdale, Colorado and Washington.

“We started from the ground up and built a system tackling the challenges unique to marijuana. It has been battle-tested and informed by industry best practices,” Vo said. “We definitely thought this through and anticipate scaling to a national and global level.”

©2014 The Miami Herald