A guide to Canadian cannabis barcodes, and how your store can best prepare for them

POSTED ON July 29, 2021

Lot number barcodes

Managing cannabis products can seem straightforward at first, but things change when you receive your first shipment of legal cannabis in their respective packaging. The packages will look something like the above.

The barcode below is what is known as a GS1 stacked databar, or a lot-tracked barcode. The lot-tracked barcode is a superset of a regular UPC barcode combined with other information, namely the lot number and the expiry number. The following image explains how the individual components can be broken down.

For convenience, we’ve attached a handy PDF resource from GS1, a non-profit organization that standardizes barcoding formats across different industries: https://www.gs1.org/standards/barcodes/databar

At Greenline, we propose the following steps to best prepare your store for stocking cannabis products.

1. Ensure that your POS system can integrate with 2D barcode scanners

Lot-tracked barcodes are often too long to fit in a single horizontal label, so they are often stacked 2, 3, or even 4 times on top of each other. As a result, regular 1D barcode scanners that are used for most industry-agnostic POS systems do not cut it. 2D barcodes scanners are able to read these barcode formats, but are often $100 to $200 more expensive than their 1D counterparts.

2. Ensure that your POS system can convert lot-tracked cannabis barcodes into their individual components

Some products only come with lot-tracked barcodes on the packaging, meaning that if your store has an initiative to scan as many products as possible, you cannot rely simply on the UPCs being available for you to scan.

It’s important for your cannabis POS system to be able to scan a full 2D lot-tracked barcode and break out the UPC to compare to your product catalogue. Because lot numbers are often different for every shipment you receive from your provincial distributor or LP, it’s important to identify products by UPC and not by lot.

GS1 barcodes

3. In the province of Alberta, it is important to track all incoming and outgoing lot numbers

Alberta cannabis retail regulations state that stores have to thoroughly track all lot numbers in their POS system of choice. In fact, some AGLC inspectors have been denying retail applications for not having a system to track them properly.

Lot tracking can add significant complexity to your store’s inventory management, so we at Greenline have optimized our system to make this process as easy as possible for stores just starting out. Don’t get caught off guard when your inspector asks whether you can track lot numbers down to individual sales receipts!


If you’d like to learn more, schedule a demo with our team.