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Video solutions for cannabis operations must deliver the goods for both regulatory compliance and onsite security.




AT FIRST BLUSH, selecting a video surveillance and retention solution for a cannabis workplace environment seems pretty straightforward. Dig a little deeper and things start to get much more complicated, pretty fast. Surprise, surprise—most folks sourcing and managing technology products for cannabis know that implementing a new solution is rarely as easy as plug-and-play.

Crafting a video solution for your environment necessitates serving two masters. The first is compliance with government rules in the jurisdiction where your business operates. Then there is the security component—how will you balance best protecting your business versus threats like theft against other concerns, like keeping costs down?

Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these factors and then compare three video solutions that offer integrated compliance and security capabilities.

Compliance 101

Regulations at the federal level in Canada and varying by state in the U.S. require that cannabis business entities must record activity in nearly every space inside a dispensary or processing/manufacturing facility. That creates the need for onsite storage to retain the video. Cloud-based storage of so much data is often prohibited by law and very costly, besides.


Here are some video retention requirements in a few prominent U.S. states (Canada has broadly similar rules but requires that video be retained for a full year):

WASHINGTON. At a minimum, a licensed premises must have a complete video surveillance system with minimum camera resolution of 640 x 470 pixels or pixel equivalent for analog. The surveillance system storage device and/or the cameras must be internet protocol (IP) compatible. All cameras must be fixed, and placement must allow for the clear and certain identification of any persons and activities in controlled areas of the licensed premises. All entrances and exits to an indoor facility must be recorded from both inside and outside, or ingress and egress vantage points. You must maintain a required minimum of onsite storage with no cloud storage allowed.

CALIFORNIA. The state requires 24-hour continuous filming of cannabis operations, so that means motion detection-based camera activation is not allowed. Video must be captured at a minimum of 25 frames per second (fps) and have a minimum resolution of 720p. Storage retention is a minimum of 90 days onsite with no cloud allowed. Any outages exceeding four hours of downtime must be reported to the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).

COLORADO. Cannabis operations must retain footage for 40 days. Camera coverage must enable recording of customer and employee facial features with sufficient clarity to determine identity. All camera views of all limited access areas must be continuously recorded 24 hours a day. The use of motion detection is authorized when a licensee can demonstrate that monitored activities are adequately recorded.


Security 101

There are several elements to consider when choosing a video security system for a cannabis operation. At the most basic level, the solution must be able to record any wrongdoing that occurs, such as internal theft of product and cash, as well as external perpetrators of burglary, robbery and violence.

But a really good security solution should be much more dynamic and provide more layered security. You might want active management of your video security rather than just passive recording. This can involve live humans watching a feed, artificial intelligence-powered software, or both.

Other capabilities you may want include remote monitoring and management of your surveillance system. Discovery of the video clips you need in a swamp of retained footage might require smart search software as part of your video platform.

Harry Brelsford is a principal analyst at The CannaTech Group (CTG) and can be reached at harryb@thecanna or (206) 201-2944.

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