It's no secret that one of the next market segments to see exceptional growth in the United States is somewhat non-traditional: cannabis. The global cannabis market is projected to reach $60 billion by 2024, according to Ameri Research, fueled by the increasing legalisation and decriminalisation across much of the United States.

It is estimated that 22 million pounds of marijuana are grown each year in the United States, with 80 percent coming from California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington, according to Mother Jones. Unlike other products, this commodity is valuable from the moment the seeds go in the ground to the exchanging of money for end-user products - and at every point in between. Within large greenhouses, 360-degree cameras that show a wide field of view are essential for cannabis protection

From seedlings to selling, securing every point within the supply chain is vital to the assets being distributed, and companies are now realising how lucrative this endeavour can be. Critical to the success of the industry is keeping the merchandise secure and the workers safe. In this article, we explore each part of the supply chain within the cannabis market and address ways of implementing robust security measures. 

Plants, fields and greenhouses

This is one industry where money actually grows on trees! When cannabis crops are planted either in greenhouses or in fields, security becomes critical, since the plants themselves are worth a significant amount of money. A single truckload can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so securing the load is crucial to the process

Producers don't want plants stolen – especially high-end varieties that garner a bigger profit when harvested and sold – and the size of the plants make theft a greater possibility. Video surveillance becomes vital at this point and can be used in a variety of ways.

Within large greenhouses, single cameras that can cover a wide expanse of space, such as cameras that offer 360-degree views, are essential and can provide more coverage with less investment overall than traditional narrow field-of-view cameras. Advanced technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones), are also being used in open fields in an effort to protect these plants. 

the federal government doesn't recognise cannabis producers and retailers
Comprehensive video surveillance becomes the main tool for thwarting cannabis theft and addressing incidents as they arise

Transportation and protection

Once the plants are mature enough to be harvested, they must be transported to a production facility where they are either dried or cured based on the needs of the grower, as well as processed and transformed into edible products to be sold at retail locations.

There are already a range of companies that specialise in keeping these crop yields safe while they are transported: think Brinks armoured transportation used for cash, but for cannabis. A single truckload can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not more – so securing the load is crucial to the process. Losing one of these loads can lead to large-scale losses for a producer. Surveillance equipment that can withstand sanitation standards and power-washing is paramount for effective protection

After being transported, cannabis must be processed. In these environments, where strict handling processes are in place, surveillance equipment that can withstand sanitation standards and power-washing is paramount. This requires camera enclosures that are rated for resistance to high-pressure water jets, dust and vandalism/tampering.

Since edible processing requires stringent regulations be followed, it becomes more critical for security managers to identify solutions that carry the NSF Mark, making them compliant with standards set forth for commercial food equipment in North America, or the HCV EU, the equivalent in Europe. 

Since the federal government doesn't recognise cannabis producers and retailers, banks that are federally insured through the FDIC don't accept money from these establishments
Many of these locations handle and store large amounts of cash since customers have to pay with cash

Retail protection

As the final products come out of processing and go into storefronts to be sold by retailers in States that have recreational or medical facilities, there's another level of security that must be in place to protect these transactions. But careful considerations must be made. Traditional security tags cannot generally be used because of the small size of many of the end products, making it more difficult to track with tracking devices.Traditional security tags cannot generally be used because of the small size of many of the end products

In this instance, comprehensive video surveillance becomes the main tool for thwarting theft and addressing incidents as they arise. In these locations, a loss prevention or security officer has to be an integral part of the team. Another consideration is the careful screening of the potential employees. 

Since the federal government doesn't recognise cannabis producers and retailers, banks that are federally insured through the FDIC don't accept money from these establishments, meaning that many of these locations handle and store large amounts of cash since customers have to pay with cash.

There must be security measures in place for these kinds of transactions, including the ability for video surveillance to be played back instantaneously in the event of an incident at a cash register.

The cannabis market comes with a variety of challenges at each and every step of the operation, from growing to transport to production and sales. Video surveillance and business intelligence solutions are ideal for these applications, and as the market grows, more and more security companies will look to cater to the market. 

Download PDF version

Author profile

Jumbi Edulbehram Regional President, Americas, Oncam

Jumbi is currently the President, Americas for Oncam, a maker of 360 degrees cameras and software. He is responsible for all sales, marketing and business development activities in the Americas. Prior to Oncam, Jumbi served as the Director of Business Development for the security division of Samsung Techwin, where he was responsible for managing strategic partnerships with technology partners, consultants/A&Es, and large national integrators. His team was also responsible for developing new business in industry segments such as retail, government and transportation.

In case you missed it

How Internet of Things (IoT) aids facility management and physical security
How Internet of Things (IoT) aids facility management and physical security

As buildings become more complex and smarter, the age-old traditional maintenance methods that are based mostly on hands-on human monitoring are becoming more and more inadequate. Instead, the world is fast adopting building automation as a key component of smarter and more proactive maintenance strategies. The aim is to free up maintenance staff and give them time to focus on other tasks while machines monitor the different systems that work together to make the facility functional. Specifically, Internet of Things - or, IoT - enablement appears set to transform the way facility managers deliver service to building occupants. The trends are many and the possibilities are almost mind-boggling, from inventory management, to work scheduling and energy efficiency, the list goes on and on. Below, we look at a few ways in which IoT is being used for Facility Management and Security. Revolutionise maintenance through condition-based maintenance For years now, the norm among maintenance professionals has been a time-based approach, or in simpler terms, performing maintenance operations after a set period of time. But a major flaw of this system is that components were being replaced periodically whether the parts were actually worn out or not. Of course, that meant some of these maintenance activities simply weren’t cost-effective. To avoid this waste from continuing, a subset of IoT known as IIoT can now be used to optimise the maintenance process. IIoT works as a centralised network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data Rather than changing parts on a time-based schedule, IIoT works as a centralised network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data. Selected equipment are fitted with sensors that monitor specific operational parameters and let maintenance professionals know how the machines under supervision are working, understand their current condition, and then pinpoint the optimum time they need to be maintained. The information generated this way is vital as it allows maintenance staff to intervene just in time to avoid costly downtime and other associated inconveniences. This is, in a nutshell, the basics of predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. These days, by implementing condition-based maintenance, IIoT is being used to effectively monitor a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC, fire suppression, security, etc. The applications are numerous and so are the benefits. On page 52 of this guide by the US Department of Energy, they state that a functional predictive maintenance program could yield up to 10 times ROI, reduce maintenance costs by 25% to 30%, and reduce downtime by 35% to 45% Along with fire suppression, IIoT is effectively monitoring a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC and security Remote monitoring of facilities Physical inspections have been a critical condition for the success of conventional maintenance programs, even in hazardous environments. But, with the increasing emphasis on personnel safety, organisations want alternative solutions that allow staff to examine assets without being physically present. Facility managers and their team working in industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining can relate with these constraints. And these industries can benefit greatly from deploying predictive maintenance solutions. For example, in the oil and gas industry, IIoT sensors can be used to monitor remote and highly critical assets. These sensors can be used on pipelines to detect anomalies (especially corrosion) and pass that information to supervisors for necessary action. By doing this, potential failures are quickly predicted to avoid often disastrous incidents. Managing energy consumption Sensors are also being embedded in building components and devices like HVAC systems, lights, doors, windows to understand energy consumption and proactively manage it. Facilities that use this technology could achieve substantial energy savings. In a press release by IT research and advisory company, Gartner, they stated that IoT can help reduce the cost of energy - as well as spatial management and building maintenance - by up to 30%. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building These sensors work by monitoring different conditions in the building and causing a power-saving action based on the data received. For instance, occupancy sensors can order lights to turn on when it senses motion in a room and then turn off the same lights when there is no presence there. That way, there is no need to wait for someone to remember to switch off the lights when they are not needed.   Another very common use is in HVAC monitoring. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building. So, the issue is how can one use IIoT to manage HVAC and possibly reduce their energy usage? Well, in its most common form, IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes then communicate with the rest of the HVAC equipment and make needed adjustments for occupants’ comfort. Not only that. IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes The technology can be configured to: Track energy consumption at different distribution points throughout the building. Track usage from the power source right down to the consumption point. Detect sudden voltage drops or spikes (usually an indication of some fault). These are essential benefits because HVAC units are notorious for consuming large amounts of energy when they are working inefficiently. Security and access control Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management. It takes several forms such as the monitoring of life-saving systems like intruder or fire alarms, invisible barriers, and other safety installations. Facility managers are using IoT across different industries to obtain live information about potential emergency situations with a view to responding before the issue escalates. In such cases, quick detection of any strange activity is key because many of these installations have tangible negative effects when they fail or when they are intentionally sabotaged.Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management Fortunately, the surveillance equipment can also be setup to send alerts to mobile phones to aid emergency response or evacuation as the case may be. Smart surveillance is also priceless for monitoring the situation in partially or fully automated remote facilities (especially oil and gas installations and mines), and in hostile environments with critical equipment where humans cannot work for extended periods of time. If you are not yet using IoT in your facility, you may be wondering where to start from. To avoid getting overwhelmed, a good place to start would be to try a small-scale deployment of this technology then review its ROI and impact on your operations before adopting a more widespread IoT implementation. This way you can gradually scale up as you and your staff come to understand and adapt and to this new way of doing things.

Is the physical security industry doing enough to prevent school shootings?
Is the physical security industry doing enough to prevent school shootings?

School shootings continue, as does a search for answers. What solutions are there to prevent school shootings and/or to improve the response (and thus minimise the death toll)?  In the physical security industry, we like to think we have solutions that can help, if not “solve”, the problem, but realistically speaking, how effective are they at the end of the day? We like to think we have solutions that can help, if not “solve”, the problem: but how effective are they at the end of the day? The sad answer – even after dozens of school shootings and even in the wrenching aftermath of the latest one – is that we don’t know. There is a gaping lack of knowledge and research when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of preventative measures as they relate to school shootings. Scarce resources on preventative measures The dearth of knowledge on the subject leaves schools at risk of spending scarce resources on measures that don’t have any real impact, or worse, that have a negative effect on education environments. The natural impulse following a school shooting is to do something – anything – to prevent the tragedy from happening again at any school, but especially at my school. But how is money best spent?Successful businesses are a good thing, but not at the expense of misspending education resources on solutions that don’t solve anything Congress has passed the Stop School Violence Act of 2018 to provide $50 million per year to develop programs to train students, teachers and law enforcement to prevent violence, and to create anonymous reporting systems, such as hot lines, for school violence threats. The bill authorises another $25 million for improvements to school’s physical security infrastructures. Congress also provides $1.1 billion in Title IV block grants, which districts can use to pay for diverse needs such as security systems. Several states are providing additional funding for physical safety measures and campus police, and local districts are also stretching their budgets to address security concerns. But is that money being targeted to measures that will help the situation? What is the role of technology in preventing school violence, and are we as an industry at risk of over-selling our preventative capabilities and diverting money from other measures that might have more impact? Successful businesses are a good thing, but not at the expense of misspending education resources on solutions that don’t solve anything. More metal detectors, armed guards and police officers could cause anxiety in some students and even interfere with the learning process Studies on school safety and protection Researchers, advocates and educators gathered this fall at American University to consider the need for better research to inform decision-making on safety, reported Education Week.The field is in desperate need of more evidence on what works, and schools want this information presented to them" A 2016 study by the Rand Corp. points to the problem: Lack of data and research on what works and what doesn’t. “Despite growth in the school safety-technology sector, rigorous research about the effectiveness of these technologies is virtually non-existent,” according to Rand. “The field is in desperate need of more evidence on what works, and schools want this information presented to them in vetted, digestible ways to help them with procurement.” Jeremy Finn, a professor of education at the University of Buffalo, has pointed out the difficulty of assessing the effectiveness of measures designed to deter events that likely won’t occur anyway. “How do you know when you have deterred a school shooting?” he asks. “It didn’t happen.” The effects on our students  Might technologies aimed at making schools more secure have an adverse effect on the learning environment? More metal detectors, armed guards and police officers could cause anxiety in some students and even interfere with the learning process. The physical security industry should freely acknowledge that the technologies we offer are only part of the solution to school violence Do security measures aimed at preventing active shooting incidents absorb resources that might better be used to address a more general and/or likely security threat such as vandalism or student discipline? Theoretically, security measures in general should help to prevent the probability of an active shooter at the same time they are addressing a wider range of concerns and threats. But do they? At the very least, we in the physical security market should be aware, and should freely acknowledge, that the technologies we offer are only part of the solution to school violence. Schools should take the broadest possible approach to the range of security challenges, and technology should be one tool among many. Furthermore, better data to measure what works is sorely needed to illuminate the best path forward.

How can the physical security market promote better employee retention?
How can the physical security market promote better employee retention?

Employee turnover is a problem for many companies, especially among younger employees who have not developed the philosophy of employer loyalty that was common in previous generations. Nowadays, changing jobs is the norm. The idea of spending decades working for a single employer seems almost quaint in today’s economy. However, excessive employee turnover can be expensive for employers, who are looking for ways to keep their brightest and best employees happily toiling away as long as possible. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can the physical security market promote better employee retention in a competitive employment environment?