As the cannabis industry expands, so does the demand for robust physical security solutions to protect businesses from seed to sale and to meet the strict compliance requirement of each state. Regulatory bodies are advancing standards that dictate how products are cultivated, produced, transported, sold and protected.
Security Compliance Checklist
– Reduce hardware and software upfront costs, IT support and staff training by unifying video, access control and intrusion systems into a single, open architecture platform
– Unify point-of-sale reporting, inventory management and identity management with video to streamline auditing, reporting and investigation
– Manage video retention on-premises and in the cloud to minimize cost, optimize storage and stay in compliance
– Manage identity and access rights for all locations and employees through the unified security platform
– Monitor energy consumption, temperature variation and water operation in your facilities
– Protect your video, cardholder and system data with secure communications between clients, servers and edge devices
– Utilize system hardening tools, support and updates for enhanced cybersecurity
– Automated health monitoring and notifications of cameras, access control and intrusion systems, to meet compliance regulations
– Track assets from seed to sale by integrating barcode or RFID inventory tracking into your unified security system to quickly find specific products and associated video throughout the supply chain
— Scott Thomas
Having the ability to secure cultivation and retail facilities, oversee the production process, provide audit reports, monitor operations and remain in compliance cannot be understated. Video retention, employee access and intrusions regulations vary by location and must be strictly adhered to. A unified, physical security solution can do more than protect people and assets; it also fulfills requirements for security and operational procedures, reports and video evidence for compliance audits.
Physical Security Solutions
Cannabis growing facilities and dispensaries need scalable, reliable security for myriad reasons. Protecting employees, customers, the product and currency are the primary objectives. In addition to compliance, cannabis cultivators market a high-value product in a cash-intensive environment, making them potential criminal targets. Intrusion detection, panic alarms and access control are all critical components of security system design. Operators also need to consider their long-term expansion goals, so the system design should be scalable for additional stores and/or cultivation locations. As regulations evolve and companies grow, an initial investment in unified, open architecture security solutions will save reinvestment in the long term.
Specific security design components that every cannabis provider needs to be compliant with include video surveillance inside and outside cultivation facilities. Video is also a mandated requirement in processing, production and packaging areas as well as stockrooms and throughout the dispensary, including at the point of sale.
Access control is also required throughout the enterprise, with only specific individuals having authorization to certain restricted areas. Regulators in various states and cities may require audit logs of these areas, as well as video verification that only authorized employees are using their assigned credentials. Failure to meet these requirements can result in entire harvests being destroyed, substantial fines and/or suspension of operating licenses.
Intrusion detection systems are also a mandated staple in cannabis security design. The regulations may include active monitoring of perimeter fencing around the growing facility and the cultivation center itself, as well as any production, processing and storage facilities if housed in separate physical locations. Dispensaries require a full intrusion system, including duress alarms to monitor potential forced entry, burglary and armed robbery.
Most operators unify both the access control and intrusion systems with video surveillance. In some areas, this is mandated in the regulations. In all cases, it is a best practice that verifies policies and procedures, augments audits, expedites investigations and mitigates risk.
Video surveillance can also unify with point-of-sale transactions, ID verification and inventory management systems in the dispensaries. These capabilities help protect the operators’ product and transactional cash and validate regulated sales quantity and age check compliance.
A unified security system can add additional value from an operational standpoint as well. Notifications from facility management systems like temperature control, water flow and energy consumption in cultivation can alert operators of potential issues that may require immediate response.
Seeing is Believing
In system design, camera placement that maximizes viewing areas is recommended. Regulations in many states dictate the specific camera resolution and frame rates in addition to video retention requirements. Retention requirements vary by jurisdiction and range from 30 days to 24 months. Options for both on-premises and cloud video retention can minimize upfront storage deployment costs.
Some jurisdictions mandate 24-hour continuous camera coverage with no video loss. Real-time camera health status and offline notifications should be an essential consideration for the unified security platform.
In addition to recording video, a unified system can also provide early detection and notification of a potential intrusion. Cameras can send a real-time alert to key personnel if someone approaches the property during off hours.
When evaluating security solution providers, cannabis operators should ask about the firm’s experience and understanding of local cannabis regulatory requirements. System components need to meet these requirements, so it’s important to weigh the security provider’s background in your final decision.
Unified Systems and Open Architecture
Experienced physical security professionals agree that video management, access control, intrusion detection and other functions are far more efficient in a unified platform. For multi-site operations, having a single, unified view of the entire enterprise increases efficiency and ensures compliance audits, reports and evidence can be produced easily.
Open architecture security platforms support different camera manufacturers, access control, intrusion panels, facility management and more. They allow third-party cameras and access control hardware to be reused when the enterprise expands. Open architecture security platforms systems also allow the use of commercial off-the-shelf components and reduce server hardware by combining video, access control and intrusion monitoring onto a single machine.
Strengthen trust by focusing on privacy
Keeping customer and financial data secure maintains trust in the operator’s brand as well as regulatory requirements. Many states have regulations around data as concerns over privacy increase. It’s important to choose a unified security platform with a strong commitment to cybersecurity and the resources to identify, maintain and support your investment as the threat landscape evolves.
Your unified security platform must also keep data safe from employees who don’t have authorized access, as well as mitigate your exposure to outside cyber risks like camera hacking, password theft and ransomware.
Cannabis operators are competing in a rapidly growing industry, and regulations in this new market are constantly evolving. The complicated nature of these regulations can make securing new and expanding businesses difficult.
To succeed, cannabis businesses should invest in an open architecture, unified security platform that scales for future growth, maximizes operational efficiency, protects their data, and meets compliance in all jurisdictions.