American cannabis flag
The decriminalisation of marijuana has left the security industry apprehensive to collaborate with the industry
If ever there was a market tailor-made for security companies, it’s the growing cannabis industry. Although only two states – Colorado and Washington – currently allow the sale of recreational marijuana and 22 other states permit limited medical use, many within the industry believe the tide has turned in favor of legalisation. [After the recent election, recreational sale of marijuana will become legal in Alaska and Oregon in 2015, and in the District of Columbia (subject to Congressional review).

Coming with the ability to cultivate, harvest, process and sell marijuana to the public is a complex set of regulations and strict oversight. The transition to open sale has been sometimes rocky as states have taken different approaches to ensuring the once illegal weed is safe and not diverted to fuel a black market.

Those requirements have heightened an already obvious need for professional security. In addition, this market is likely to grow – and perhaps grow quickly – in the coming years. For those security companies who have gotten in early, the prospect of gaining and keeping market share is a real incentive.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” declares Roger Ralston, chairman and CEO of New York-based security provider DirectView. “We’ve been really hitting the ground hard and leading the way in providing security in the cannabis space.”

Marijuana legalisation has drawn the attention of a number of companies. Many have marketed directly to operators, but others – including big names like ADT – have said they won’t serve the industry.

This new industry vertical represents challenges to any security company that wants to get in on the action. The most daunting is dealing with the specific and detailed governmental regulations on security for stores and grow houses. “One of the biggest inspections they face is for security,” adds Ralston.

Colorado devotes 15 tightly-spaced pages of regulations to describing the types of cameras, digital recorders and other security equipment dispensaries must have on site, even describing the placement and amount of backup footage needed.

Canna Security America Field Tech
Marijuana legalisation represents
challenges to any security company
that wants to get in on the action

“So if someone were to break in and destroy your digital video recorder, that video would in real time be pushed to an offsite cloud-based system,” explains Dan Williams, president and CEO of Denver-based Canna Security America, who assisted state regulators in drafting security requirements.

Passing inspection requires that stores use professional grade cameras and a select number of digital video recorders. The goal is to ensure that images are crisp and easily accessible to investigators and police, explains Williams.

A typical store needs about a dozen cameras, each located to survey a particular angle. At least one camera provides coverage of the monitoring room itself. This system is often complemented by motion detectors, infrared sensors and flood lights.

The states have also adopted a “seed to sale” approach to monitoring. Growers must be able to account for where their plants go, how they are processed into usable products and finally sold to customers. Along with RFID tracking of containers, growers and processors also install their own cameras.

Vendors use industrial scales to weight the product. A camera is positioned above to read the scale so that data can be recorded for record keeping.

“It’s a product that grows, and that’s probably the biggest problem in tracking,” says Williams.

While there have been relatively few reports of crimes committed against dispensaries, the potential is great. A pound of weed can go for as much as $2,000 and most stores have large amounts of cash on site, say industry insiders.

“There’s a strong physical threat, but trying to mitigate or combat it is difficult because of the state laws and the fact there’s no use of firearms (at dispensaries),” says Eric Young, president of the Seattle Cannabis Association. “Some of the guys feel they are under-protected.”

Finding out where dispensaries are located is an easy task despite many owners’ reluctance to speak to the press and advertise.

“The state actually provides a list of where these suppliers and producers and processors are located on a map,” says Young. “That is a big concern to a lot of folks in the industry, because for someone with criminal intent, here’s a road map.”

Download PDF version

Author Profile

Randy Southerland Special Assignment Contributor,

In case you missed it

BCDVideo Signs OEM Deal With Dell EMC: Positive Impact For Surveillance Storage
BCDVideo Signs OEM Deal With Dell EMC: Positive Impact For Surveillance Storage

In a significant move for the video security market, BCDVideo has announced that it is set to become Dell EMC’s OEM partner in the video surveillance space. For nearly a decade, the Chicago-based company has been known as a key OEM partner of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), providing storage and networking technology to security integrators on a global scale. This latest partnership will allow BCDVideo to take their offerings to the next level. BCDVideo Vice President Tom Larson spoke to to discuss the reasoning behind the deal, and how the program will benefit partners, integrators, and end-users alike. Expanding BCDVideo's Product Offering For BCDVideo, the HPE OEM program has been widely acknowledged as a success, allowing the company to leverage a globally recognized brand and provide high-quality, reliable solutions across video networking and access control. Nevertheless, explains Larson, HPE server solutions are primarily suited to large-scale enterprise projects, and are therefore unable to accommodate for the growth in small- and medium-sized surveillance applications. The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering, building on success in the larger enterprise market to offer tailored solutions to SMEs. Our aim is to look at all best of breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships” Support For Integrators By leveraging Dell EMC’s sophisticated digital storage platforms, BCDVideo will now be able to offer a more cost-effective solution to integrators, without sacrificing the resilience and IT-level service that BCDVideo is known for. With access to Dell EMC’s expansive global sales and technical teams, the company hopes to expand its reach, all-the-while providing partners with around-the-clock technical support and a five-year on-site warranty. Customers should be reassured that BCDVideo will continue to offer HPE platforms, service, and support. “Our aim is to look at all best-of-breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships,” says Larson.  “The addition of Dell EMC to our portfolio is a major win for BCDVideo, for Dell EMC, and for our integrators.” The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering Meeting Surveillance Market Demands At the technology level, assures Larson, Dell EMC’s server offering is well suited to handle the increasing video resolution and growing camera count demanded by the surveillance industry. At the larger end of the spectrum, the company’s Isilon Scale-Out NAS solution can handle tens of petabytes of data, making it ideal for large-scale security applications such as city-wide surveillance and airport security. Dell EMC storage solutions are already proving successful at major international airports including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, each with a camera count in the 1000s.Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market” For Dell EMC, the new partnership means the ability to expand on this success in the enterprise market, leveraging BCDVideo’s surveillance expertise and high-level customer service to offer tailored solutions for lower-volume applications. Since its inception, BCDVideo has differentiated itself in the security space by providing a high level of IT service to integrators making the transition to IP systems. By combining resources, the partners will be able to service VMS and analytics companies, software vendors, and access control providers, as well as traditional business integrators. Ken Mills, General Manager Dell EMC Surveillance, explains: “Surveillance storage is not just about capacity, it is also about performance and reliability. Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market.” Accomodating For Growth BCDVideo is well placed to accommodate this anticipated growth. Last year, the company opened a new 51,000-square-foot global headquarters in Illinois, home to 90 separate stations within their Innovation Center where each system is customised according to integrator needs. The new facility allows for expanding business with new and existing partners in the security market.

How To Prepare For Active Shooter Incidents | Infographic
How To Prepare For Active Shooter Incidents | Infographic

This Active Shooter infographic summarises information about trends among active shooter incidents, and outlines how an organization can develop a plan before tragedy occurs, including:   Statistics on the numbers and types of recent active shooter incidents. A profile of common traits among active shooters. How to prepare beforehand, and what to do when the police arrive. How organizational planning ensures maximum preparedness. Pre-attack indicators to look for. Be sure to share this information with coworkers and managers. Awareness is key to preventing active shooter incidents, and to minimising their tragic consequences. When sharing this infographic on your website, please include attribution to More resources for active shooter preparedness: How hospitals can prepare for active shooter attacks Six steps to survive a mass shooting Technologies to manage emergency lockdowns  How robots can check for active shooters  Background checks to minimise insider threats Gunfire detection technologies for hospitals, retail and office buildings 21 ways to prevent workplace violence in your organisation Non-invasive security strategies for public spaces    

How Should Your Security Company Measure Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)?
How Should Your Security Company Measure Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)?

How much does a security system cost? We all know that total costs associated with systems are substantially higher than the “price tag.” There are many elements, tangible and intangible, that contribute to the costs of owning and operating a system. Taking a broad view and finding ways to measure these additional costs enables integrators and users to get the most value from a system at the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). However, measuring TCO can be easier said than done. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to share the benefit of their collective expertise on the subject. Specifically, we asked: How should integrators and/or end users measure total cost of ownership (TCO) when quantifying the value of security systems?