A Lakeland company is playing an important role in the regulation of legal medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado. Franwell and its company Metrc have an exclusive state contract to supply the tracking technology for pot.

Franwell supplies tags with small computer chips included. Those tags are placed on each individual marijuana plant when it first starts to grow. The RFID chips follow the plants all the way to the sale to the consumer.

“So nothing moves between facilities in Colorado that’s not tracked with a serial number and RFID tag," said Jeff Wells, the president and CEO of Franwell.

Franwell has printed more than 7 million of the RFID tags for Colorado since 2014. State inspectors can check a company's entire inventory in just minutes because they use scanners that communicate with the chips in the tags with a radio signal.

Many large companies use similar RFID technology to keep track of their products through an entire supply chain.

There are several goals of the RFID tracking system: to keep marijuana from coming into Colorado from outside the state, to keep legal marijuana from leaving the state and to make sure that all proper state taxes are collected. It is very difficult for legal marijuana operations in Colorado to get around the system.

“If somebody comes into this market and they don’t want to do what it takes to exist in a legal manner, these systems like Colorado…you will be found out very quickly," said Wells.

Franwell has won a contract to provide a similar tracking system in Oregon.