Cannabis Security Laws That California Operations Need To Know

Due to their very valuable, and slightly controversial, nature, cannabis dispensaries and cultivation operations in the State of California must follow strict rules and fulfill certain requirements regarding security if they wish to operate legally – not to mention safely. While recreational use of cannabis has only been legal for a matter of months, there are over 300 operating dispensaries with recreational licenses within the state’s borders, and that number keeps growing. In fact, cannabis operations are required to create comprehensive security plans detailing how they will secure their business. Here are some of the mandatory cannabis security measures with which they need to comply.

Video Surveillance & CCTV

Video Surveillance & CCTV

The first, and one of the most important, cannabis security precautions that dispensaries must take is having a robust, comprehensive CCTV video surveillance system in place. This is dictated by both state and local law. In the city of Costa Mesa, in Orange County, for example, cannabis dispensaries will be required to submit their security plans to the city police force, who will review and approve it, or make recommended suggestions and fixes. Any plans submitted must contain, at least, “a “complete digital video surveillance system in accordance with the approved security plan with a minimum camera resolution of 1280 × 1024 pixels.”

The State of California mandates a minimum of at least 720P resolution (less than Full HD) and a minimum frame rate of 15 frames per second; they must be placed at both indoor and outdoor locations, record continuously all 24 hours a day; motion detection-activated cameras are not allowed. They also must maintain at least 13gb of storage capacity. Other states, such as neighboring Oregon and Washington, have similar rules. Furthermore, California dispensaries and cannabis growers must maintain their security footage for a minimum of 90 days; other states require over one year of video surveillance footage.

All surveillance systems will also need to be capable of being remotely accessed by the shop owner or licensee, whether on a computer or mobile device. All cameras are also to be placed in a way that prevents any kind of tampering or obstruction, e.g. high enough off the ground, in covert locations, etc.

Required locations for video cameras and cannabis security include locations on the property where cannabis is weighed, stored, packed, shipped or sold; areas with limited access; the room containing the storage for surveillance system itself, to ensure no footage is stolen or tampered with; and all entrances or exits. Surveillance devices and storage must be kept in a secure, locked room as well, inaccessible to customers and visitors.

While 720p resolution is enough for basic cannabis security needs, dispensaries looking to have more complete video security systems will likely want to upgrade to even higher-resolution camera systems – perhaps even 4k. Dispensaries in California will also likely wish to install enough storage for 180 days of video surveillance footage in case of break-ins or other security issues, while dispensaries in other states will likely need at least a year.

Furthermore, if budget allows, it’s a good idea to have an external monitoring company keeping an eye on the video feeds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Monitoring services will be able to respond to incidents captured on camera in real time, sending emergency personnel in response to any incidents.

Burglar Alarm System

Cannabis facilities must also, by law, be secured and protected by comprehensive burglar alarm systems covering entrances, exit points and the entire perimeter. Such a system will include door and window contacts in case of break-ins, glass break detectors in case of smashed windows, and motion detectors to alert to intruders already inside the building. They should also be protected by smoke and heat detectors.

Physical Security & Personnel Requirements

In addition to mandatory security camera and alarm systems, cannabis dispensaries will need to take certain steps and procedures to instill a strict and safe culture of security. These include creating and enforcing clear, detailed identification and sign-in/sign-out systems and logs of all personnel, suppliers and visitors who enter the facility; establishing strict inventory procedures for keeping track of cannabis and personnel throughout the growing, processing and selling process; and limiting personnel access to only those areas required for their specific job (through access control systems or security checklists and process).

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