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. 

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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.

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