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Cannabis Security vs Cannabis Compliance

A False Sense of Security

One of the biggest problems with regulatory standards today: they give businesses a false sense of security. Most companies fail to understand the difference between compliance and security. In fact, some organizations think they are the same. Some get so confused about complicated regulations that they stop focusing on security altogether.

Cannabis-Security-vs-Cannabis-Compliance-A-False-SenseCompliance means your business meets state regulations. On the other hand, security keeps your money, product, and people safe from theft, intrusion, disruption, and physical harm. Cannabis growers, retailers, and dispensaries need both: a system that keeps facilities, people, and assets secure, and a system that complies with state rules and regulations.

The market has introduced many new physical security technologies in the last decade. With IP video cameras and cloud services, cannabis businesses now have access to the best technologies for security and compliance.

What makes for a secure environment?

Secure environments require a minimum of three primary security features: surveillance, alarm, and access control systems. Take a look at the top requirements to assure the safety and security of your environment.

Surveillance System

  • Camera placement and positions allow for the desired field-of-view.
  • Camera programming includes appropriate access permissions with secure usernames and passwords.
  • Camera configuration provides uninterrupted data/video image storage.
  • Cameras function correctly and provide a live image.
  • Network infrastructure handles and supports high-resolution storage and large amounts of data transfer (the most common cause of lost video data).
  • IT properly maintains hard drives in good health to store video data.
  • Optional but highly recommended: An employee or video monitoring company continually watches live video, strengthening security by scanning for shoplifters and other nefarious individuals who can harm products, people, and facilities.

Alarm System

  • 24×7 Monitoring: The alarm system guarantees communications system delivery around the clock. Technology obsolescence or cut lines must not hinder business operations.
  • Alarm Response: If an intruder triggers a sensor inside the business, the alarm company responds immediately and contacts the company and the authorities.
  • Fast Assistance: The alarm solution contacts and dispatches emergency response services on the spot.

Access Control System

  • Installers physically secure door readers with specialty screws.
  • Installers tuck away and protect door reader wires.
  • Each door reader contains internal memory.
  • Door readers feature tamper alarms.
  • Door readers include credentials with some form of encryption.
  • Door readers offer multiple levels of authentication.
  • Access control system programmers use proprietary technology instead of open source.
  • The access control system features a lock-down mode.
  • Lock-down mode accommodates customized scenarios.
  • The access control system allows for some doors to be automatically open or locked, depending on the scenario.
  • Door hold alarms sound if a door remains open too long.
  • A detailed reporting interface permits monitoring staff and equipment to observe a person’s movement throughout the building.
  • The best systems integrate with surveillance cameras and store records indefinitely.

What assures a 24×7 compliant security system?

Compliance standards vary by state. Check with the local cannabis control board to assure that your business follows the specific regulatory mandates for each state in which it operates. We recommend the following “must haves” for compliant security systems.

Surveillance System

  • Cameras must cover all areas where cannabis items or waste will be present.
  • Cameras must cover all areas where cannabis items or waste is in transit.
  • Cameras must cover all areas within 15 feet of all entry points in all directions.
  • Cameras must record at a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels in all lighting conditions.
  • Cameras must record at a minimum of ten frames per second (five frames per second for exterior non-restricted areas).
  • Locations must incorporate a dedicated room for surveillance systems, including a list of all personnel with authorized access.
  • The surveillance system must include a backup battery that can independently power the system for at least one hour.
  • The surveillance system must provide automatic notifications in the event of a camera or other system component failure.
  • The surveillance system must include a monitor for viewing video from any camera.
  • The surveillance system must contain a digital archiving system.
  • The surveillance system must include a printer.
  • Companies must maintain recordings for 90 days on-site.
  • Companies must back up video continuously to a secure off-site location.

Alarm System

  • Must operate and activate fully during all non-business hours.
  • Must include 24×7 professional monitoring.
  • Must detect unauthorized entry onto premises.
  • Must detect unauthorized activity in limited-access areas.
  • Must notify authorized personnel of each unauthorized entry.
  • Must ensure that authorized personnel can immediately notify law enforcement or security personnel.
  • Must feature at least two operational “panic buttons” located on the premises that immediately inform law enforcement or security personnel.

Access Control System

  • Must operate fully 24×7.
  • Must include an electronic lock system.
  • Must connect to the alarm system.’
  • Must enable a security manager to set specific requirements on who can enter operations and retail spaces.
  • Must incorporate clearance levels and shift times.
  • Must differentiate between authorized users by including employee-specific access codes or fingerprint.
  • Must prohibit access by individuals not directly engaged in business.
  • Must detect unauthorized entry onto all premises.
  • Must catch unauthorized entry into limited access areas.
  • Must prevent public access to all areas used in marijuana production.
  • Must prevent public access to the composting area.

Now, here’s the catch. You can neither assure security nor verify compliance without an agnostic monitoring tool in place watching the entire system in real time, all the time. Why? Disparate digital technologies do not always work seamlessly together or behave predictably. When security systems include different digital technologies, the bits and bytes often collide and conflict, causing unpredictable behaviors. As a result, the system no longer meets “normal” conditions, putting both security and compliance at risk.

How do your security and compliance teams learn about these changes? How do they respond to these changes in network health? It’s simply too cumbersome, costly, and – quite frankly – impossible without a monitoring tool. Dependable monitoring technology will alert you instantly if any juncture of your security or compliance environment behaves abnormally. Having someone watching your video is not enough: staff cannot “view” digital performance and disruptions within your system. Nor can physical monitoring alone ensure that the system accurately records and stores video data. An independent monitoring tool like Vunetrix Network Monitor integrates your existing technologies, tracking their performance and bridging any gaps that might put your compliance and security at risk.

For more information on how to keep your cannabis environment secure and compliant, download our eBook: “The Root of Cannabis Security and Compliance.”