The legalized marijuana industry is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. And if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry. According to data by Ameri Research Inc., the global legal cannabis market was valued at $14.3 Billion in 2016 and is forecast to grow $63.5 billion by 2024. The rising demand of marijuana for recreational use and medical use is a key factor driving the growth.

The industry is also very tightly regulated, and some new cannabis operators are struggling with compliance. According to a report from the Brightfield Group, 72% of cannabis operators fail to comply with security and surveillance requirements. And with so many new businesses and operations in the market in the U.S., the field is beginning to adopt risk management best practices that are even above and beyond the myriad compliance requirements that cannabis product growers, producers and vendors must abide by.

Every farm or licensed cannabis grower must comply with state requirements for surveillance, access, camera positioning and the retrieval of video footage. In addition, the farming and dispensary of cannabis requires a specific standard of video quality and surveillance security. The requirements also vary from state to state. In California, for example, regulations require that video footage retrieved from the surveillance system produces recordings of more than 40 days. In the state of Washington, all surveillance recordings must be kept for a minimum 45 days. Oregon requires 90 days of retention 24/7, with a minimum of 1.3mp per camera at 10fps, exterior is 5fps. Regulations in Ohio require storage from between 30 to 90 days.

However, all state regulations have one thing in common: a requirement to make a solid investment in quality security equipment such as video surveillance cameras with reliable recording functions and a significant memory. This ensures the compliant footage is retained and easily presented to any official who may request the recordings.

Salient has achieved success with cannabis operators to help them with their surveillance and video storage needs, through its line of video management solutions. 

Christopher Dunn, Salient’s Regional Sales Manager for East Central, has worked in the security manufacturing industry for more than 10 years. “The regulations for video surveillance are very stringent and specific,” he says. “Even defective plants that are disposed and destroyed need to be under surveillance,” he says. “Overall, video surveillance and storage is an entire process, from the seed to the trimming, any movement, to the disposal process.”

Security regulations will continue to change, says Dunn, particularly as more states begin to legalize cannabis for recreation and medical use. “We’re keeping an eye on the regulations, particularly western U.S. states who were among the first states to legalize it. As the first wave of regulations is established, I do expect that security requirements will increase for newer markets and states.”

One benefit of the Salient solution, says Dunn, is its affordability. “Cannabis facility operators and owners don’t want a high-cost solution. And since this is a new industry, facilities are new – it’s a start up for most people involved. I see new companies struggle with the packaging, storage and transport of the product, all while cannabis is a Schedule I drug, so cash flow is a concern. But we make the total cost of ownership low.”

Another value with the Salient Systems solution is the operator’s ability to use the video surveillance system to track a plant’s movement throughout a facility as a video audit trail, which assists in compliance with ever-changing regulations.

The Salient system is easy to use and requires minimal training, Dunn notes, which is beneficial for cannabis dispensary and growers who are busy trying to begin and operate a new business. “Our specific technology helps a user to meet regulations. In addition, we are camera agnostic, so the customer can choose the camera that fits their needs. We also don’t charge mandatory annual fees just to keep a system running.”

Key Elements in a Security Plan for a Cannabis Business Operation

  1. Perimeter security such as fencing.
  2. Lighting – indoor and exterior, including motion sensing.
  3. Video surveillance: monitoring of exterior windows, exterior walls, roof hatches, entrances, exits. A key element is areas where cannabis products are weighed, packed, stored, loaded, and unloaded for transportation, prepared, or moved.
  4. Video management system that stores video recordings for the required amount of days, per your state regulations. The VMS may also need to be placed and operated in a secure room or area.
  5. An explanation of how the video surveillance system will be operated, including who is responsible for monitoring the video footage and storing any video recordings.
  6. A diagram showing where all cameras are located and assigning a number to each camera for identification purposes.
  7. Video intercom systems.
  8. Access control systems that provide video security and assist in communication throughout the facilities, in addition to systems that allow for the identification of visitors, unlocking doors, broadcasting of emergencies and announcements and forwarding of calls.
  9. Employee security training
  10. Security officers and guards
  11. Inventory tracking devices