Cannabis Real-Time Video Monitoring

A month ago, if someone asked how COVID-19 might affect the cannabis industry, the answer would differ greatly from today.

Today, shelter-in-place orders have closed businesses deemed non-essential, and in some areas, that includes cannabis operations. San Francisco, for example, closed dispensaries initially. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker shuttered recreational facilities until May 4, but declared medical marijuana operations essential.

Cannabis security systems

Lawmakers may not agree whether cannabis operations are essential, but cannabis operators can agree that changes brought on by COVID-19 amp up the need for cannabis real-time video monitoring.  

However, even if the coronavirus were not closing cannabis operations, real-time video surveillance is not a luxury, it’s required. The law mandates that cannabis operators be able to watch and know what is going on at their facilities, even when they are not there. 

First Things First

To get a license, most states require cannabis grow operations and dispensaries to install video surveillance. The exact requirements differ from state to state, but in most cases, businesses need surveillance cameras: 

  • Wherever employees weigh, pack, store, load and unload cannabis goods 
  • Wherever cannabis is prepared or moved within the premises 
  • In limited-access areas and security rooms
  • Where surveillance-system storage devices are located
  • At entrances and exits.

These complex cannabis remote video surveillance systems must use cameras with a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels and capable of capturing at least 15 frames per second. They also must store footage for a minimum of 90 days (though this timeframe varies by state).

Technology that allows 24/7 remote monitoring—in real time—is a definite plus. This capability allows owners to monitor employee activity, to avoid employee theft—a widespread issue for cannabis businesses. With outdoor grows, it allows operators to see the entire property from all angles.

What Technology is Needed for Cannabis Remote Video Surveillance?

The first level of a cannabis remote video surveillance system begins with Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. An IP security camera is a small computer that receives control data and sends image data via the Internet. 

IP cameras offer higher frame rates than analog security cameras, work well in areas with a lot of motion and in low light, and in situations where high detail is needed. They produce sharp images and allow users to focus and zoom in remotely. Smart IP cameras use advanced video analytics to help operators detect, verify and act on events. 

The next level is Video Management Software (VMS), which integrators can install on a camera, on the NVR, or as a separate software system.

VMS allows users to record and view live video from multiple surveillance cameras. The software can be appliance- or Windows-based, depending on the manufacturer, and used with either IP-based or analog cameras with an encoder. 


However, if an operator desires real-time viewing, a server-based system works best. An appliance-based system, even one with VMS on it, records video for later viewing. A server-based VMS lets users toggle between multiple locations through a single interface to view video in real time. 

Both VMS types help cannabis operators meet state requirements for remote access to their surveillance systems. But server-based VMS lets users manage all parts of their video surveillance system from a single interface.

Add in remote monitoring services and a cannabis operation has 24/7 coverage. Installing smart IP cameras with VMS analytics capabilities, then adding 24/7 live monitoring helps companies keep a constant eye on their cannabis operations. 

Here, using an external monitoring company can be beneficial. This company will keep constant watch over video feeds, respond to incidents in real-time, and dispatch emergency personnel as needed. 

Key Questions to Ask About Cannabis Remote Video Surveillance

When adding cannabis live security camera surveillance, there are key questions to ask:

I own on-site cameras already. Do I need all new cameras for cannabis real-time video monitoring? 

If the security cameras are smart IP surveillance cameras or IP cameras, it is very easy to integrate VMS technology that allows real-time monitoring of security events. If older analog surveillance cameras are in place, integration becomes more difficult, but not impossible. Your cannabis security system installer will assess your existing system and recommend the technology mix that works best.

Cannabis live security camera surveillance sounds expensive. Where is the ROI?

Being able to view operations at your cannabis business remotely will save you money. Real-time video monitoring technology costs far less than employing security guards. Further, a well monitored cannabis operation experiences less loss of crops, cash and products. Keep in mind that cannabis triples in value when diverted to states where it is illegal.

My cannabis operation is very remote. Will on-site cameras allow live video monitoring?

The answer is yes. By using wireless technology and cellular networks, users can view security systems installed in remote locations in real-time. It’s important to work with your security system integrator and installer, who can assess your site and recommend the right mix of technology for cannabis live video monitoring in remote areas.

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Can cannabis real-time video monitoring eliminate the need for security guards?

A cannabis real-time video monitoring service uses trained video monitoring professionals to watch your property 24/7. Further, VMS systems also let cannabis operators log in from wherever they are to observe operations in real-time.

Can I watch multiple locations at the same time? 

A remotely monitored application allows users to observe several locations through the same interface. Users log into this interface to simultaneously watch marijuana video surveillance systems in multiple locations. 

The question today is not if cannabis operations require real-time video surveillance. The question is how we can get it done. The best place to find the answer to that question is by contacting a security system installer today.

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