Medical and legal marijuana growers, handlers and dispensaries, in all applicable states, are required to follow certain security requirements to be in compliance of their marijuana license. These requirements include identification badges, alarm systems, surveillance systems, traceability of products from start to finish and start up inventory. Today we are going to focus on the surveillance system requirements for most states.

There are even more requirements for some states, such as simultaneous on-site and cloud based off-site recording in case the Network Video Recorder is stolen, but we’re just going to cover the main overlap requirements today. The map below shows the current level of access to marijuana per state. Here’s a breakdown of each type in the U.S.

  • Medical use is determined by each state as to what will be allowed to medically approved patients. This can be a combination of marijuana based cannabinoid extracts and there are quite a few different ratios offered of the two main cannabis extracts. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis, is the main pain reliever and Cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-psychoactive component, and the main extract of cannabis is normally used for systemic inflammation. There are several delivery methods of medical cannabis such as vaporized, tinctures / oils, pills, edibles, dabs, patches etc.
  • Recreational marijuana has more options on strains and delivery methods including direct smoking of the marijuana plant material.
  • CBD only is allowed in almost all states since there are no psychoactive components and it is tested to be a very effective anti-inflammatory.
  • None is just that. In those states you will not have legal access to cannabis in any form or variety.

Now let’s start with what you’re required to have to protect your investment…

General Requirements For All States With Legal or Medically Legal Marijuana Grow-Ops and Dispensaries
To find the requirements on a state level you’ll just need to contact your state legislatures.

  • Minimum resolution of 640x470pixels for every camera.
    • This is an incredibly strange requirement because there has never been a camera created with these specs. I suspect that they are quoting the minimum size after capture. The resolution for D1 style analog cameras (resolution way lower than you need) is 976x494pixels. What you’re looking for is high resolution IP cameras with nothing lower than a 2MP chip (1920×1080) or preferably a 4MP chip in it (2592×1520)
  • Camera placement must allow clear and certain identification of any individual on the premises.
    • The higher the resolution the better for all areas of the premises but especially entrances and exits.
  • All fencing and gates enclosing an outdoor grow operation must have full video surveillance capable of clearly identifying any activities occurring within twenty feet of the exterior of the perimeter.
    • Depending on how large your perimeter is this requirement could require quite a few cameras. Just be prepared for this. And the expectations you have from watching CSI are not real. Those cameras can zoom in on a recorded image 200’ away and it’s perfect. It’s not realistic unfortunately.
  • All entrances and exits to an indoor facility shall be recorded from the inside and outside.
    • Two way coverage for all entrances and exits so you can see who’s coming and going from every direction.
  • Areas where marijuana is grown, cured or manufactured including destroying waste shall have a camera.
    • Just cover it all inside and outside, including greenhouses.
  • All point-of-sale (POS) areas much have a camera.
    • Anywhere money is exchanged must be covered.
  • Any room or area storing a surveillance system storage device (NVR or DVR).
    • So the room you have your recording equipment stored in will need to have a camera as well.
  • All cameras must record 24/7 and a minimum of 10 frames per second.
    • Most NVRs will give you the ability to record 10fps all the time and then if motion is detected you can increase to 20/25 or 30 fps. Once you install the system you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the kind of footage you’re looking for. For minimum compliance and for your security as well.
  • The recordings must be kept for a minimum of 45 days.
    • This is easy with H.265+ technology. This feature compressed the footage in such a way as to not strip out pertinent information but it saves a huge amount of hard drive space. A 16ch Enviro NVR running all 16 cameras at the highest 4MP settings and recording all the time at the highest fps will store 30 days per 8TB hard drive. With lower fps or lower MP cameras you could get 45 days per 8TB hard drive. Every location will be different so once the system is installed you need to check it consistently to make sure you’re recording as you need to, you’re getting the recordings you’re expecting, and that the system is saving enough time to meet at least your minimum requirements.
  • Time and date must clearly be displayed on all recordings.
    • I don’t know any NVR or DVR that doesn’t have this feature. It’s been standard for almost 2 decades.
  • All videos are subject to inspection by any liquor control board employee or law enforcement officer and must be copied and provided to the board or law enforcement officer upon request.
    • These could be on site copies that you can make off onto a removable USB stick or even off site via remote software. Remote access requires high speed internet at the site of the NVR, remote software Most of this software isn’t copyrighted so you can put it on as many systems as you need to. But no worries on security. Anyone accessing the system would need to have all of the proper credentials to be able to access your NVR successfully. (user name, password, IP / domain name, port, etc.)

You now know what you have to have so let’s switch to what you need to protect yourself and your business from. The things owners / operators are looking for are a bit more far reaching than a simple list of requirements the state department put together. A system that will cover the compliance requirements as well as security. Yes you’re adding a system because you have to in this kind of business, but make sure the system you get fits your needs for real life as well as the requirements set forth on paper by your state legislation. When choosing a system you need security and compliance. The bare minimum isn’t the way to go.

Here are a few things to keep in mind…

Vandalism can cost thousands in lost product, repair costs, and downed business. Vandalism can come at the hands of other growers, zealots who don’t approve of the marijuana industry in general, neighbors with a grudge, kids in the area interested in what you’re doing and a bit too curious for your own good, and outright baddies who just like to cause trouble. You need a good system to cover all of these eventualities and the ones you don’t even know exist yet.

Theft can kill a great business – from without and within. Employee theft can be a huge issue. At the growing level, transport or the dispensary level. You want to make sure shrinkage is not something you have to deal with. One extra thing to keep in mind. Anyone who steals product from you is a thief. Even if they’re a “friend” going way back. Want to keep it from happening after you find out someone is stealing? Prosecute. You have to send a message to everyone out there to make a buck off of your investment. And don’t give everyone and they’re Mama the keys to your candy store AKA the passwords to your NVR. Trusting everyone with information could just be handing them the means to steal from you. Don’t make it easy for anyone.

Growth monitoring is something else you can track via surveillance footage. Some owners use their cameras in a special area with one of several plants of different species with inches or feet marks on the wall behind them. Save off a picture a day, a week, a month and put them together into a video. You know what they say – a picture speaks a thousand words.

Remote access to live and recorded footage is something everyone needs. High speed internet access at the site of your business will give you access to all of your footage and most of your settings as well. This can be accessed from another networked computer, off site computer (say at your house or another business) and most importantly your phone or tablet. Make sure whatever kind of system you get has this feature built in. You should be able to access your system day or night, rain or snow, and from any device you have in your arsenal.

Don’t hide your system. Use it as a deterrent as well. Put your cameras front and center. Hidden cameras can be great when you’re trying to catch a particular person but overall you want EVERYONE to know you have cameras. Tends to keep the baddies away because they’re looking for an easier target and the good people / employees with you longer because they feel safer.

Room to grow #1. When you’re adding cameras right at the start make sure cameras are placed with FULL GROWN plants in mind. You don’t want it to be great now but useless months down the road when the cameras can’t see past the higher product.

Room to grow #2. And this time we’re not talking about the plants themselves. Future proof your installation and get an NVR big enough to add to in the future when you’re ready. Make sure your system can grow with you. So if you’re starting with 16 cameras get a 32 ch NVR so you can add cameras easily down the road.

Whether or not marijuana is legal for recreational use or medical use only or not at all the laws per state have been changing rapidly. A slightly different map than the one above is provided to show the laws applicable per state.

Advantages going with an Enviro Cams system.

  • Time and Date stamp on all video is standard.
  • Records 24/7, can ramp up when motion is detected to save on hard drive space.
  • Works with all ONVIF standard IP cameras running on an H.264, H.265 and H.265+ compressions.
  • Can meet any retention requirements due to H.265+ compression and multiple hard drive bays per system.
  • Supports cameras that record 4MP and higher.
  • Access to camera footage for live and playback locally and remotely through PCs and smart devices.
  • Event notification for the cameras themselves and if your alarm system is tied into the NVR.
  • Knowledgeable pro-marijuana staff ready to make sure you’re getting the system you need on the first try.
  • Free US based tech support for the life of the equipment.

Need a custom system designed for your facility? Call Jennifer today Toll-Free at 866-264-0041!

Didn’t get enough awesome info above?? Then here are a few more links you might enjoy! – Medical Marijuana Laws by State – General Information by State on finding a doctor or dispensary and how to apply for a medical marijuana program. – General camera system requirements – CNN report on statistics