As the cannabis industry continues to grow exponentially, propelled by changing regulations and increasing acceptance, the focus on a 360 degree approach to security and IT planning has never been more crucial. State regulations continue to shift and heighten requiring video surveillance, access controls, and intrusion detection. In managed services, the digitization of various processes and the storage of sensitive data has put an emphasis on cyber security planning.
The journey from start to finish of a cultivation facility, retail dispensary, or processing facility creates a direct pathway from planning to doors open – and beyond. DEM360 had the opportunity to recently work side-by-side with the team at Stash Dispensary to open the doors on two new retail dispensaries located in Illinois. Known for creating a luxe environment with premium products and top-rated customer experience, the emphasis on incorporating security details into a specific aesthetic plan was only part of the job.
Guarding the Green: Security Planning that Works with the Brand and State
From financial losses to legal repercussions, the negative impact on a missed step in security planning for any cannabis facility type can be significant. Video Surveillance at Stash Dispensaries was a significant focus with emphasis on camera placement to license plate recognition. Systems have evolved significantly over the years, thanks to advancements in technology. Today, businesses can invest in state-of-the-art video surveillance systems that offer high-resolution imaging, remote monitoring capabilities, and intelligent analytics. These systems not only act as a deterrent to potential threats but also provide valuable evidence in the event of a security incident.
DEM360 was tasked with balancing the interior design aesthetics of these luxe dispensaries with the state video surveillance requirements. Cameras had to capture the necessary angles and images as required, but also could not compromise the interior design elements. The solution entailed installing conduits (painted black) to drop the cameras low enough and still blend in. A keen eye on equal measuring distance between the retail POS system cameras and turning the camera globes all the same direction, ensuring each one looks the same and is symmetrical.
The planning required at least two cameras in every room. Camera redundancy is a state requirement. In the case a camera goes down in a room and it is the only camera in that room, then the room must not be used until the camera is fixed. Illinois state inspectors are big on facial recognition – probably more so than other states we have worked in. The mounting height of the cameras was critical for this as cameras mounted too high only provide a view of the tops of customers or staff member heads. Yet too low could allow for tampering. Strategic placement was at the epicenter of meeting this requirement.
Outside of the facility, Illinois requires a video surveillance system that can read license plates of parked vehicles. Because of this requirement, DEM360 had to install both License Plate Recognition (LPR) and PTZ cameras to capture vehicles entering and exiting the premises. The PTZ cameras allow us to control the camera to pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) into any location on the property to read plates.
Stash Dispensaries invested in a cutting-edge intrusion detection and access control system allowing them to proactively identify and mitigate potential security threats both inside and outside of their facilities. DEM360’s partner relationships with companies like Barracuda, ConnectWise, and SentinelOne has allowed us to provide the best in industry cyber security solutions. By constantly monitoring network traffic, these systems can detect suspicious activities such as unauthorized logins or attempts to access restricted areas. These systems are designed to detect and respond to any unauthorized attempts to access a network or facility immediately – delivering direct access to law enforcement.
Innovative Managed Services to Protect Data Privacy, Access Controls and Brand
As the cannabis industry becomes more regulated, adherence to compliance standards is vital for companies seeking long-term success. Failure to comply with regulations can result in severe penalties and reputational damage. Managed IT security plays a crucial role in maintaining compliance by protecting data privacy, ensuring secure storage and transmission of information, and maintaining robust access controls.
DEM360 is managing all aspects of security for Stash Dispensaries through a managed services contract including the implementation of their own device and service monitoring application. This custom application checks the status of devices such as cameras, door controllers and network infrastructure equipment to report on its status. The application will continuously check the equipment on specified intervals to determine uptime. If the application detects a down device, a ticket is automatically created and sent to the security team for review. This application not only monitors and reports the status of events, but also acts a documentation system for the events. Any down camera or device must be immediately logged and reported to the state.
The cannabis sector is not immune to cyber threats that plague various industries. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in IT systems to gain unauthorized access, disrupt operations, or compromise sensitive data. At Stash, DEM360 has safeguarded data by implementing Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions through SentinelOne in conjunction with SIEM/SOC managed security to protect the various software systems and applications.
In an industry marked by intense competition, maintaining a strong brand reputation is crucial. A single data breach or cybersecurity incident can erode consumer trust and tarnish a company’s image. Prioritizing IT security not only protects sensitive data but also demonstrates a commitment to customer well-being.
In an era of digital transformation and brand reputation, the necessity of IT security both for the physical brick and mortar, data safety, and meeting state regulatory needs, poses a challenge for any sized facility. Working as trusted partners, DEM360 and Stash Dispensaries were able to navigate a planning process that led to two highly unique, on-brand facilities meeting all state requirements and beyond. DEM360 has secured over 155 cultivation, processing and retail facilities in 18 states – and growing.