Jeff Hubbard is the owner of Constellation Cannabis, one of the largest cannabis grow facilities in Washington state. The Arlington facility is 42,000 square feet, of which 30,000 square feet is grow space. Because of the heavily regulated nature of the industry, the company would have to meet strict requirements before it began production and that meant developing a camera design with 100 cameras that would exceed regulatory requirements.

In a new industry with strict regulatory requirements, the video surveillance system is everything but ordinary. First, it had to be a modular system to allow the company to scale it through the multi-phase project. Also, it had to take into account the unique nature of the project. Before Constellation could even begin growing cannabis, it had to have a license for the property, then develop an operating plan- essentially an operational blueprint of the building for the Liquor Control Board (LCB).

Captured on camera

From seed to sale, everything that would occur must be captured on camera at all times

The plan clearly delineates where in the building seeds would be stored, where vegetative growth would take place, where the flower room and waste quarantine would be, and where concentrates production and processing would take place. From seed to sale, everything that would occur must be captured on camera at all times, and every recorded interaction of an employee with a plant must include visibility of the employee's head, hands, and feet at all times- and the footage must be maintained for at least 45 days.

Even plant waste and dead plants must be on camera at all times. “If we have a plant that dies, we can't just take that plant and throw it in the compost pile; the plant is tagged, so we scan the plant, we notify the LCB that the plant has died, and we remove the plant from our gardens,"  Hubbard said.

Video surveillance system

"But it needs to sit in our quarantine space for 72 hours because that gives the LCB three days to come out to our farm and do a spot check inspection if they are so inclined and say, 'Yep, you had one plant die- here it is.' And then we could go into the camera system, and we need to maintain footage of all our plants for 45 days."

Until all of this and more could be demonstrated to the LCB, Constellation could not grow a single plant, and therefore could not generate revenue. Clearly, the last thing they needed was for the video surveillance system to hold the process up. In phase one of the project, Constellation was using about a 50/50 mix of Dahua and other cameras.

Features and capabilities

It is often difficult for company owners to know who has the skill set necessary to follow through with meeting

They originally contracted for 80 cameras, but, due to some blind spots and some expansion during the initial phase, Hubbard says, they needed to upgrade to 100 and a partner to help them scale. Hubbard met with Blake Albertsen, Regional Sales Manager - Pacific Northwest/Western Canada, Salient Systems, who walked those at Constellation through the features and capabilities of the Salient system.

In an industry as new as the cannabis industry, it is often difficult for company owners to know who has the skill set necessary to deliver and follow through with meeting their unique needs. However, after meeting with Albertsen, Hubbard knew he had found the right partner.

Modular system

"Based on the strength of that presentation and of Blake himself as a person," Hubbard said. "We felt comfortable in engaging in a contract with Salient.” With the Salient server, they were able to seamlessly upgrade, get licenses in place and meet their phase one footprint.

Unfortunately, however, because of the size and scope of the project, the need for a modular system and the burdensome regulations, the integrator Constellation had initially been working with was unable to meet its needs, and so Constellation now found itself in search of a new integrator. Hubbard said he called Albertsen and expressed his frustration of having a capable Salient system but being unable to use it. Although Salient was not obligated to, Albertsen agreed to help Constellation find an integrator suited for the task.

Camera inspections

There is a steep learning curve, and that is why we decided to go with professionals"

"It was a very stressful time in the business," Hubbard said. "I am eternally grateful for the help in finding us a new integrator, lending us engineering time to get our system operational and get us past our camera inspections to allow us to activate our cannabis license."

And so, what had begun to look like a disaster was now back on track and humming along smoothly. Hubbard said Constellation plans to continue its relationship through the second and third phase of building out the facility. "Cannabis is a new industry, and a lot of people are trying to make a quick buck," Hubbard said. "There is a steep learning curve, and that is why we decided to go with professionals."

Clean Green Certified

Part of what makes Salient so successful is its commitment to being "Clean Green Certified”. Because the USDA does not recognize cannabis as a legitimate agricultural crop, cannabis cannot be legally called “organic.” Therefore, the Clean Green cannabis processor/ handler certification was established in 2004 as a way to regulate legal cannabis products that would otherwise have called their products organic.

Indeed, 40 percent of the cannabis licenses in Washington are inactive, Hubbard explains, because many people don't realize the regulatory burden placed on the industry and the capital costs required to navigate those burdens.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?

The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?

Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More
Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.