Firm hired to track Pa.'s medical-marijuana sales suffers another website crash

MJ Freeway, the company awarded a $10.4 million contract to track all of Pennsylvania’s medical-marijuana commerce, suffered major disruptions over the weekend, causing some businesses in cannabis-legal states to suspend work for hours.

The state Department of Health contracted with MJ Freeway in April for software that will track all cannabis produced in the state from seed to sale. The software will also be used as the state’s registry for patients, caregivers, and practitioners who will participate in the program, which is expected to begin in early 2018.

The outages required retailers and dispensers to record all sales by hand. In an email received late Monday, a spokeswoman for Denver-based MJ Freeway said service had been restored.

“On Saturday afternoon and Monday afternoon, we observed performance issues with our legacy Tracker software product,” wrote Jeanette Ward. “All client sites were taken offline for a period of time on Saturday evening and Monday afternoon to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. On both days, service was restored within a few hours, and client sites are currently live.”

The affected software is not the same product that MJ Freeway sold to Pennsylvania, Ward said Tuesday.

The disruption — it was unclear if it was the result of a crash or a deliberate attack — was the latest of several setbacks for MJ Freeway, which has provided tracking software for several states and a point-of-sale system for about 1,000 marijuana retailers nationwide.

  • Last week, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced that MJ Freeway would fail to meet an Oct. 31 deadline to take over the state’s marijuana tracking software.
  • In September, Nevada abruptly canceled its agreement with MJ Freeway two years into a five-year contract.
  • The same month, an anonymous hacker circulated an offer to sell confidential information hacked from the Washington state and Nevada programs.
  • That followed a June incident in which the the company’s source code was stolen and posted on Reddit (the code was later removed).
  •  In January, MJ Freeway was the target of a “malicious” hack that caused cannabusinesses to lose data.

Pennsylvania’s contract with MJ Freeway was greeted with controversy when announced April 20. The company’s software ranked lower on technical merits than its Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based rival, BioTrackTHC, which earned a perfect score. MJ Freeway, however, undercut the competition on price, according to a state scoring document.