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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).
In November 2017, the LCB changed the software provider for their traceability system. Since that date, due to problems rolling out the new system, traceability data has been unavailable.
When will the LCB provide full traceability data again?
According to LCB spokesman Brian Smith as of Jan 31, 2019: "The system is slated to be fully implemented by late spring". In our correspondence with the public records team at the LCB, we have not received an estimated date, but have received assurances that that the tech teams are working on fixing the implementation and that the LCB does fully intend to make this data available again, as required by Washington state law.
This excellent article discusses why the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board has not addressed the missing detailed data, and has released incorrect sales data: "A dearth of comprehensive price and sales data and incorrect figures about marijuana commerce have sowed confusion among cannabis businesses in Washington state since regulators rolled out a new traceability system more than a year ago."
How are you managing the data delays caused by the Nov 2017 LCB Traceability Switchover?
Washington State has not made full traceability data available since Nov 1, 2017. 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.
Is sales data accurate?
The LCB has continued to provide monthly total sales data for retailers, producers, and processors. However, since Nov 1, 2017 these numbers are less reliable because they often come via self-reported channels and are subject to human error in data entry. This is compounded by problems related to the Leaf traceability switchover. We have seen numbers as egregious as $8.6M revenue reported for a single month for a license that typically does $70-$100k in revenue per month.
When we have raised these concerns with the LCB, their position has been that the licensees incorrectly reported the figures, and that this is the official record. You can verify that this is the official number for your own license by doing the following:
  1. Visit the WA LCB's public records page
  2. Search for the report titled "Marijuana Sales Activity by License Number – Traceability Contingency Reporting" and click on it.
  3. This will download or open an Excel spreadsheet. Click on the sheet titled "Producers", and search for your license number. Find the row for the month you are concerned about, and note that the value there is the official record from the LCB that will be shared with anyone who asks (investors, banks, data companies, the general public, etc.).
We report the numbers as the LCB provides them. If you see a sales number that appears inaccurate, please follow the steps above to verify, and then notify the LCB and request that they correct the mistake. We will pick up any changes in our next data refresh.
Finally, these data errors are well documented and known by the LCB and 502 community to be problems. This excellent article sheds more light on why the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board has not addressed the missing detailed data, and has released incorrect sales data: "A dearth of comprehensive price and sales data and incorrect figures about marijuana commerce have sowed confusion among cannabis businesses in Washington state since regulators rolled out a new traceability system more than a year ago."
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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