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Brad Wareham

How to elevate your cannabis security plan

By Brad Wareham | Oct 18, 2021


There is no denying the opportunity for growth in the U.S. cannabis industry – in 2020 cannabis sales were up 71 percent over 2019 to the tune of $18.3 billion, according to a study conducted by Leafly. Some 19 states have already legalized marijuana recreationally, with 36 states still in the medicinal phase. 

While it may seem like an old-fashioned gold rush amongst the states, marijuana’s contradictory status as a federal Schedule I drug doesn’t make it an easy landscape for newcomers to navigate, particularly in the area of security and loss prevention. 

There are many best practices for new cannabis businesses to take advantage of, and one of the best tools to leverage is an open platform video management system (VMS) as part of an overall security plan.

Cannabis operations require stringent licensing

Like any business operation, cannabis requires certain licenses, approvals and audits before opening the doors. While every state’s regulations and security requirements differ, almost all require a security plan that includes electronic alarms, and surveillance systems and archived audit trails. 

These security plans are heavily weighted as part of the licensing application process. If the security plan is found to be lacking, applicants lose points. If an applicant’s overall grade/number fails to meet the threshold, a license won’t be issued. 

One requirement that is true for nearly all fully legalized states is that video surveillance is required 24/7 throughout the entire facility. For example, the average dispensary might have between to 25 to 40 cameras, and there can be no “dead zones,” where a camera’s field of view is obstructed. Operators must also securely archive video footage in the event of an audit by compliance officers.

The benefits of a VMS go beyond avoiding potential fines for non-compliance. While constant video surveillance helps to ensure that the rules are followed, it can also easily detect when crimes are committed – such as employee theft. Cameras can help reconcile the weights of product at different stages, and alert security personnel if the documented weight of a product doesn’t match.

Video analytics for enhanced facility security

Cannabis retail dispensaries faced some of the same challenges from COVID-19 as other retail markets did, including social distancing requirements. Video analytics can improve operations by using people counting to speed up queue lines and assist management in ensuring the facility is properly staffed. 

Video analytics can also be used in overall facility monitoring, with analytics that can alert operators when their attention is required to review an incident or respond to one in progress.

Cash management at retail stores

Because cannabis is still federally illegal, most banking institutions are hesitant to venture into the market, and cash management remains a major challenge to cannabis business operators. As such, cannabis is still largely cash-only, which presents some obvious security risks. 

Having large amounts of cash onsite should be a further incentive to ensure a comprehensive video surveillance solution is in place. Dispensaries must constantly capture POS register information and the entire point of purchase scene, including the buyer, to ensure each transaction has a video archive attached to the transaction. 

Additionally, the VMS, coupled with edge, internal or third-party analytics, can notify local or remote personnel of any suspicious behavior and, detect weapons and or other objects that might indicate a potential threat. Analytics can also monitor and record the movement of all cash and product through the entire facility.

For more on how Salient can assist cannabis businesses click here.