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Security Tips for Cannabis Dispensaries

Cannabis is a cash business, primarily because federal laws still list marijuana as an illegal substance. This presents huge problems for dispensary security. With all that cash exchanging hands, dispensaries are a prime target for theft.
Security Tips for Cannabis Dispensaries

Thieves know that cannabusiness sales will reach $25 billion in the U.S. by 2025. Currently, 18 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, allow the recreational purchase of cannabis. Medicinal use of marijuana is allowed in 37 states currently. More than 145 million Americans live in a state that has legalized cannabis use.

Despite these successes, cannabis business owners face big challenges. 

Video surveillance can help increase security for cannabis dispensaries. Here are some cannabis security tips to help keep these businesses safe.

Cannabis Video Security 101: What Does the Law Say?

Cannabis Video Security Law

Cannabis businesses work with cash—and lots of it—every day. Since these businesses can’t have bank accounts, there is usually cash on hand. That makes them vulnerable to theft from employees in addition to external burglary.

“Video security is one of the most important aspects of the legal cannabis business.”
Security Infowatch

Dispensaries in some states have been hit hard by criminals seeking cash. California has seen a wave of smash and grabs; 20 in November 2021 alone. However, the annual rate of robbery at cannabis dispensaries seems to be somewhere between 12% to 20%.

Security for these cannabis dispensaries relies heavily on video surveillance tools.

In fact, many state laws mandate that all cannabis facilities install and maintain video surveillance systems.

Cannabis video security systems protect all elements of the business, from retail dispensaries to storage warehouses, and growing operations.

Every state has a different set of security rules for video surveillance in cannabis dispensaries. Let’s take California as an example. The state currently mandates:

  • Minimum camera resolution of 1280 x 720 (720p) HD.

  • No less than 15 frames per second.

  • Cameras and storage must be internet protocol (IP), meaning, cloud-connected.

  • Cameras must be at all exits and entrances.

  • Cameras must operate 24/7.

  • Video surveillance footage must be kept for at least 90 days.

Most states also regulate fencing and some require video surveillance to integrate with other security systems. However, rules governing the security of cannabis dispensaries are constantly changing. When considering dispensary security, research the laws of your state.

Cannabis Security System Challenges and Solutions

Cannabis Video Surveillance

Also, consider the different facets of your business. The cannabis industry brings together several disparate business models. First, there is the agricultural expertise required to cultivate and grow the product. Then, there is the logistics and transportation necessary to transport the product to the dispensary. Finally, there is the retail storefront where the product is sold. 

From a security perspective, the cannabis business presents some unique challenges. For example, these facets of your business could be spread out over multiple geographic areas. Or, everything could come together in one large facility. The video security for cannabis dispensaries, as well as behind-the-scenes operations should include these considerations:

  • Cannabis security for grow facilities requires access-control measures. They also require monitored video surveillance to ensure the product isn’t tampered with. The cameras may need hardening for humid growing conditions. You may also need motion-activated cameras to monitor restricted areas.

  • Cannabis security systems for back-office operations should include warehousing, packaging facilities, loading docks, or even office administration. Video surveillance features such as night vision or artificial intelligence tools can help protect your investment. Video security systems may be both hidden and visible, depending on your goals.

  • Dispensary security cameras should be highly visible to deter criminals—and to comply with the law. Video storage should be off-site, preferably in the cloud. This eliminates the worry that a thief will steal camera footage, product, and cash. Consider integrating video tools with your access control systems. AI software can help these security systems work smarter and keep you safer.

All of these systems should have mobile access that alerts you if there is a problem. In addition to on-site physical security, consider after-hours remote monitoring of your video feed. This can provide you with an immediate response should a break-in occur.

Cannabis Security Best Practices

Developing a security plan for your cannabis dispensary should be your first step in keeping your business, property, and employees safe. We recommend the following processes for shoring up existing cannabis security or when building a new business:

  • Conduct a security audit of your entire operations. Look with fresh eyes at access points on your property. Check the rules governing video surveillance in your state. Also, consider some of the latest camera features and integration options for your cannabis security systems.

  • Leverage cloud storage and the latest mobile access apps. Consider remote access to a cloud-based dashboard where you can see your facility in real-time. These system upgrades pay you back in peace of mind.

  • Rethink your business as zones. Divide the functional areas by dispensary, cultivation, storage, transport, and operations. Determine access and then develop a video surveillance footprint to maximize safety.

  • Make sure your video surveillance can scale up as your business grows. The cannabis industry is predicting massive growth in the coming years. Make sure your video surveillance system can keep up.

  • Consider the interoperability of all your cannabis security systems. How can your video surveillance enhance your access control system? Can remote video monitoring replace live guards at certain times of the day? Is your data stored securely in the cloud and not on-premise?

  • Work closely with your legal team to ensure that the video surveillance laws of your state are carefully followed.

The cannabis industry is vulnerable to theft from both inside and outside the business. As a primarily cash business, cannabis dispensaries are particularly vulnerable. But a well-thought-out security plan featuring video surveillance can help protect these businesses.

Pro-Vigil is a leading provider of video surveillance security for cannabis operations, production, and retail dispensaries. To find out how we can help your growing business, chat with us today.

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