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The advent of a truly new market for the physical security industry is a rare occurrence. Particularly rare is a new market that is both fast-growing and provides an environment that is not just conducive to application of physical security technologies but that actually demands it. Such is the case with the market for legalized marijuana. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting the cannabis industry?

Cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., even as it is legal for recreational use in 11 states and the District of Columbia, decriminalized in 15 states, and legal for medical use in 33 states.


On the ballot in November 2020, the U.S. could also see up to 11 states approve some form of medical or recreational use, additional decriminalization and/or social equity initiatives.


Various jurisdictions have dissimilar regulations and penalties on implementation, or lack thereof, of electronic physical security (EPS). There is no nationwide “definitive” set of regulations regarding EPS in the cannabis space. The “Security Plan” is typically the heaviest weighted aspect of the myriad of licensing requirements.


Without the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declassification and getting a specific exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (akin to alcohol and tobacco), the burden of EPS implementation can leave licensees exposed.

Meeting regulatory requirements is a major challenge in the cannabis industry, especially when it comes to video systems to oversee facilities and operations. Cannabis business owners are also particularly vulnerable to crime, given their cash-only business model and high-value inventory of goods that could easily be sold on the street. The physical security market is rising to the challenge of delivering solutions to meet the needs of this fast-growing sector, which represents a rare opportunity for the security industry – a lucrative emerging market.

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