MJ Freeway is a widely-used business software that facilitates transactions at marijuana dispensaries.
Many patients and customers faced massive delays when trying to re-up their stash over the weekend. In some cases, shops were forced to outright close. MJ Freeway, a business software that helps dispensaries manage inventory, sales, and compliance recently experienced a mass outage. MJ Freeway is used in almost every step of the typical dispensary experience. The software is used to “check in” patients and customers. If a patient’s recommendation is out of date, MJ Freeway will prevent the individual from being checked in. The software also helps shops keep track of stock and records every transaction. It even follows customer trends and previous purchases. Without it, many dispensaries cannot even verify their patients.
Approximately 1,000 shops across 23 states experienced the outage. Some shops opened and operated with severe delays, while others kept their doors shut.
Botanica, a dispensary based out of Tuscon, tweeted “Our inventory system (@mjfreeway) is down & we are unable to process any transactions. We’ll post more updates as they become available!”
Our inventory system (@mjfreeway) is down & we are unable to process any transactions. We'll post more updates as they become available!
— Botanica (@BotanicaTucson) January 8, 2017
The outage may expose an overdependence on the software. One Las Vegas dispensary anticipated how severe a problem with MJ Freeway could be. Nevada Wellness designed a backup system even before they opened their doors.
“I knew from Day One that we could never be afforded to lose five days of business, or even one day of business,” said Frank Hawkins, owner of the Nevada Wellness Center according to MJBizDaily
Ryan H. Smith, director of retail operations for The Clinic in Denver, was also prepared for an MJ Freeway crash. “Certainly being down and having issues like this is not a good thing,” Smith said. “But we have a process in place to deal with times when the system goes down.”
Nevada Wellness and The Clinic resorted to manually tracking each transaction. Budtenders were recording each purchase by hand and will have to input the data once MJ Freeway is back online. “This creates a labor impact and a customer service impact, as it slows transaction times,” Smith said.
According to MJ Freeway, the software was the victim of a cyber-attack. “Our initial analysis indicates that this was a direct attack on MJ Freeway’s infrastructure,” Ward said. Ward insisted that no client data was stolen.
MJ Freeway had a similar issue in 2014 that impacted businesses for several days. The company has built new backup systems into its new platform that are designed to prevent mass outages. The new platform will be rolled out later this month.