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Frequenty Asked Questions

Where do you get your data?
All Washington State marijuana producers, processors, and retailers are required to track every step of production from "seed to sale" (chapter 314-55 WAC). These businesses must regularly upload data feeds about plants, harvests, processing, transfers between businesses, and retail sales to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).
Washington State makes this data available as a matter of public record. We regularly ingest the raw tracking data, analyze it, and match it with additional external data (such as maps or strain information).
How often is this data updated?
We get high-level summaries about total business sales about a week after the end of each month. For example, sometime in the first week of December we should be able to tell you the November revenue numbers.
The much more detailed reports on product sales, plant harvests, etc. are released about two months after the fact. This means that in early December, we can give you a detailed report about what happened in September (but not yet October or November).
How are you managing the data delays caused by the Nov 2017 LCB Traceability Switchover?
WA state started the process of switching to a new traceability system on Nov 1, 2017. That project has been delayed by 3 months, with a new launch date of Feb 1, 2018. The state has indicated that full traceability data may be further delayed. Some interim contingency data has been made available, but we have not been able to get guarantees about how often this will be updated, its completeness, or its accuracy.
We realize that some paying customers would rather not use our system until fresh data is available. Customers may opt to suspend their accounts; this will refund the prorated remainder of the current subscription billing cycle. Once the LCB provides us with traceability data from their new system, we will automatically re-activate suspended accounts and start a new billing cycle. Visit your account page for details.
Why should I pay for data that is publicly available?
While we strive to keep charts and reports and easy-to-read and clean, the simplicity can be a bit misleading; under the hood there is a lot of data analytics and processing. Our paid plans give you access to deeper analysis and reporting, which saves you the (massive) effort of converting the raw public record information into a usable report by yourself.
How reliable is your data?
We do our best to provide you with accurate data and insights, but we cannot guarantee everything is "the truth." The source data itself isn't perfect - we've seen places where different companies enter data differently, or there are typos. That being said, variances should generally be small, in the ± 1% range.
Our data pipeline cleans-up the data as best we can, but this is a process of continual improvement. It's also possible that we didn't fully understand the nuances of your business or there is a quirk in the tracking vendor's system. Please feel free to contact us and let us know if something doesn't look right.
Should I be concerned that my business data is in the public record?
We understand that there may be misgivings about the information the state makes available. Our stance is that if everyone else has access to this data, you should too. There are other data companies out there that expose the public LCB tracability system data, and other cannabis business that take advantage of that information to gain a competitive edge. What differentiates Top Shelf Data is the depth of analysis, reporting, and ease of use we provide to you.
Where do violations come from? Can you remove ones we think are in error?
We show violations exactly as reported by the "Violatons Dataset" made public by the Liquor and Cannabis Board. As the LCB notes, "this information may not be the final disposition of the violation" because these are often investigations in-progress. If you disagree with a reported violation, please contact your LCB examiner; we will automatically pick up any changes they make when we do our next refresh.
Why do some retail prices differ from the menu price?
Sometimes we show a slightly different average retail price than the menu price - and often, it's not a tidy round number like customers would usually see. This is because many retail stores offer employee discounts which impact the average.
Do sales numbers include tax?
Except when explicitly noted, our sales numbers and prices are pre-tax revenue, not the end price shown to customers. This is because businesses often want to see their wholesale margins, and showing tax would make it more confusing. (But please let us know if you'd rather see the post-tax price).
In Washington state, the tax on cannabis products is 37% plus state and local retail taxes. For example, if a customer pays $10 for a one-gram flower pack in Seattle, the pre-tax price on that item is $6.82 with an effective tax rate of 46.6% (37% + 9.6%).
Who are you?
We are a duo of experienced software entrepreneurs with a combined 20+ years of experience. Our passions are helping businesses thrive and technology. We've started and sold two successful companies; and we have worked at businesses of all sizes, ranging from 10-person startups to 500-person pre-IPO businesses to corporate behemoths.
This is our first foray into the cannabis space. We're eager to learn from folks in the business; we've loved attending the trade shows and conferences, and regularly talk with local retailers and producer-processors to get their feedback and ideas for making this the best possible resource.
We live in Seattle and would be happy to get coffee with you!


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