Did you know that every state has unique regulations for security camera video quality and surveillance in cannabis operations? If you work in the cannabis industry, you might not know the value of video surveillance for security, safety, law enforcement, and more.
Video security and compliance in the cannabis industry are of paramount importance, more so than almost any other industry. Technical, physical, and administrative safeguards and regular audits of your video surveillance probably feel like daunting tasks when you’re already dealing with setting up your cannabis business. That’s why we’re here to help.
In this article, you’ll learn about how and why your cannabis organization needs to approach video surveillance of your operations from a forward-thinking perspective, and why Woodrow Technology Solutions is the best team to help you.
We’re all hoping that federal legalization will arrive soon, so why not be prepared for that eventuality? We can ensure that your video surveillance and cannabis security plan is designed for the protection of your controlled substances and employees. Let’s dig into what you need to know before getting started…
Why Use Video Surveillance in Your Cannabis Operation?
Whether you’re growing, selling, or dispensing cannabis to medical patients, every inch of your operation needs to be on film at all times. Not only is this a legal requirement, but it’s best practice for any retail or agricultural business.
All cannabis operations are subject to a lot of foot traffic. One bad actor can do a lot of damage in a small time frame. Having your entire operation on film can help mitigate short and long-term issues such as theft, grow-cycle disruptions, and more. The government also likes to keep an eye on cannabis, so your recordings are as much for them as they are for you.
Your state of operation is almost moot when it comes to the type of video system you choose to use. As we said, we’re all hoping for federal legalization soon, so why not scale your operation to accommodate any potential future requirements now? Investing in top-quality camera surveillance is more likely to get your permits approved now, and will save you money in the long term.
Video Surveillance for Grow Operation and Dispensary Security
Cannabis dispensaries and grow operations are notoriously at-risk of theft. Though many break-ins and robberies never make the news, some medical and legal dispensaries in major cities can see at least one or more break-ins and/or armed robberies per month.
Grow operations can also be hit multiple times in a month, further empasizing the importance of cannabis grow room security. You’d be amazed how many criminals break into the same grow operation in the same month to try and steal products they’ve already stolen (most criminals are not the sharpest minds).
Though you shouldn’t keep cash on-site and your growth cycle can be upwards of eight weeks, criminals can still do serious damage to your property and make off with expensive equipment.
Video surveillance protects your assets, your team, and you by stopping repeat offenders and opportunists! There are also a lot of studies that suggest criminals are less likely to act when they know they’ll be filmed.
Plus, footage of criminals makes it easier for police to catch them afterward.
Keep Your Assets Safe
Not all cannabis operations lose product and cash from organized gangs of criminals. Sometimes loss is passive, particularly in dispensaries where opportunists can pocket products or steal cash while too many backs are turned.
High Definition (HD) camera surveillance in dispensaries should cover the entire square footage of your store and loop into a live feed that can be accessed from your cell phone or tablet. In some states, this is a legal requirement, but again, it really is best practice.
When criminals break into dispensaries, they’re after two things: product and cash. Having security cameras at every entrance and exit is the first place to start in limiting your loss. We recommend having visible camera surveillance, as well as strategically placed video systems that cover the entire store that might not be as obvious to thieves.
However, not all criminals are so obvious. Unfortunately, a lot of cannabis operations are targeted by people already working inside the operation.
Similarly, customers might try and walk out with products they haven’t purchased. You’ll have video of them stealing on camera, so an immediate ban can be issued along with any other legal action you wish to take.
Dispensary owners and managers can’t be in all places at all times. Video surveillance strategically placed throughout your business can help to prevent robberies by being the eyes in the back of your head.
We all want to think our team would never hurt us, but a huge number of robberies and thefts are carried out by dispensary staff. Placing video cameras over point-of-sale areas and wherever your cash and product are stored is essential. Being on camera will make any bad actor think twice about their actions.
Some employees may also offer unauthorized discounts to friends, family, and others. Security cameras will immediately reveal problem personnel, and you can stop them before it becomes a consistent issue.
Keeping Cannabis Grows Safe
Video surveillance in cannabis grow operations has two main purposes: security and product safety. Every cannabis grow operation needs superb live and recorded video surveillance quality.
Remote Check-in for Grow Personnel
Similar to dispensary employees, you want to keep an eye on your grow personnel. You don’t even have to be at the grow facility to do so!
With live video surveillance, you can check in on all aspects of your grow operation from the comfort of a tablet or smartphone. We recommend having as many HD-capable videos as possible in your grow in every area (except bathrooms, obviously).
Like with dispensaries, you don’t want to risk your staff making off with your product or equipment. You also can’t let your team make even the smallest mistake with your plants.
Protecting Your Plants
Growing cannabis is one of the most delicate dances you’ll ever perform. Many growers compare the stages of a cannabis plant’s growth cycle to raising children. One wrong move and everything could go wrong.
Video surveillance throughout your grow means you can remotely monitor your plants 24/7. We highly recommend having HD cameras all over your grow rooms. Having at least 1080p/2MP is a good start, but nothing beats 4K/8MP.
The higher your resolution, the less likely you are to lose plants. Being able to zoom in to see how your leaves are doing, if your buds are looking good, and just about every physical aspect of growing your cannabis plants can save you thousands in the short and long term.
There is nothing like the freedom of not having to spend 24/7 inside your grow. If you have the right equipment and software hooked up to your cell phone and/or tablet, you can cultivate from a distance as your team makes minute adjustments to allow your flower to flourish.
The Law on Video Surveillance
The law on video surveillance of cannabis operations is probably the most ridiculous legislature in existence. In most states, the laws have clearly been written by people who have never even tried cannabis, let alone worked in the industry… or even have an iota of understanding video technology!
For example, some states have written into law that all cannabis operation video quality needs to be 640×470. The problem with this law is that 640×470 is not a recording resolution.
Each state has a fair amount of conflicting guidance, so covering all corners is what we at Woodrow Technologies do best.
In legal and medical states, there are typically four areas regulations cover:
- camera placement
- video quality
- law enforcement access
- footage retention
By meeting as many state regulations as possible, you’ll save yourself time and money in the future. California, for example, has three standards, only one of which requires stringent video surveillance and security protocols.
Of course, local jurisdictions further complicate the matter with their own guidelines. It’s almost not worth trying to read through California’s ridiculous regulations. Just start by getting the most comprehensive surveillance system so you meet all of the conflicting directions.
Video Surveillance Quality, Placement, and Best Practice
You should be recording at the highest possible level, so you can’t really go wrong legally. Along with monitoring plants, you should use a minimum 1080p/2MP in your dispensary. Again though, 4K/8MP is better.
Placement of your surveillance systems should cover every nook and cranny of your cannabis operation, but here are some essentials you have to ensure:
- Positive identification of every individual entering the premises
- Correct disposal of trash and cannabis products
- Secure every entrance and exit, including gated areas
- Cameras at every point-of-sale location that positively identifies every patient, customer, and salesperson
- Failure notification systems that alert you to any power outages or drops in video monitoring systems
- Battery backups in case of failure or power outages
- Safe storage of all cannabis products in a locked safe or vault
- Video surveillance should be running 24/7
- Retain footage for a minimum amount of time, usually more than 90 days
- (depending on your state, your storage options will vary)
Video Surveillance Retention and Storage
You’ll likely need a minimum of 25TB per storage cycle for your cannabis operation. If you’re recording video in 4K with more than 60 cameras, you’ll need upwards of 200TB of storage.
Your video quality of choice will dictate the amount of drive space required. In many states, you’re not able to store your cannabis operation video content on the cloud. As you’re also filming an ever-changing environment, busy days will take up more storage than slower. Weird, we know.
In some states, like Arizona, you only have to store your video for 30 days. After that, you can download the footage and store it for at least three years.
Is There a Difference in Laws for Medical versus Legal Marijuana?
While almost all the same laws exist for medical and for legal cannabis dispensaries, each state has unique HIPAA laws for medical dispensaries. Woodrow Technologies can ensure your medical facility meets all local and state requirements.
One of Woodrow Technology’s areas of expertise is in healthcare. As federal legalization of cannabis will likely mean a greater crossover between mainstream healthcare and cannabis, we’re more than ahead of any curves the industry might throw at us and our clients.
In healthcare, video surveillance and security mean great HIPAA compliance, medical record and patient confidentiality, and overall IT compliance.
Prepare Your Facility
Whether you’re a small dispensary or a huge grow operation, getting set up with compliant-friendly video surveillance should be your top priority. If you’re not entirely sure how many cameras you require, you can send us your floorplans.
From the floor plan schematics, we’ll be able to establish exactly how many cameras you’ll require to comply with your local state laws.
Why Use Woodrow Technologies For Cannabis Security?
We hope that this blog post has provided you with insightful knowledge, tips, and tricks on how to best prepare your cannabis operation’s video surveillance.
Woodrow Technology Solution’s Phoenix-based team has been in operation since 2014, winning consecutive Best of IT Services in Chandler for 5 years and counting.
Our guiding principle is “Do The Right Thing!” We treat every customer, client, and task as if it were for ourselves.
Creating Best Practices
When it comes down to it, you need a video surveillance security system no matter what type of cannabis operation you’re running.
Regardless of what government and law enforcement think and need, video surveillance is the best practice for any cannabis business owner.
If you still have questions, we can answer them all.