Cannabis live video surveillance: the benefits and use cases

May 11, 2023

Cannabis dispensaries have many unique challenges. Government regulations limit what is allowed, which leads to distinct operational and security needs from other brick and mortar retail stores. For this reason, the right cannabis live video surveillance system can bring a lot of value to your dispensary.

See how Solink improves the security level of your business with live video surveillance.

Live video surveillance is a way to monitor your cannabis dispensary remotely in real time. Remote monitoring uses a combination of security cameras and advanced video analytics to keep an eye on your dispensary. There are many benefits to using this technology, including enhanced security, lower costs, improved efficiency, and a better understanding of your core metrics.


Indeed, while most cannabis businesses seek out live video surveillance to meet regulatory requirements, the benefits go far beyond legal compliance.

13 live video surveillance benefits for cannabis dispensaries

As mentioned above, being able to monitor your cannabis business in real time has both security and non-security benefits. Here are 13 benefits of live video surveillance:

  • Identify retraining needs
  • More effective onboarding
  • Respond to issues in real time
  • Remote monitoring
  • Optimal merchandising
  • Better asset protection/loss prevention
  • Add context to business metrics
  • Remote guarding
  • Better security
  • Alarm verification
  • Better customer service
  • Improved relationship with law enforcement
  • Regulatory compliance

Note that these benefits often open up great synergies. For example, using live video surveillance to identify retraining needs can reduce internal theft and increase sales.

To see all the ways Solink can help your business, book a demo today.

Identify retraining needs

Employees often find themselves in need of retraining. This can be due to individual needs or mistakes made during initial training. Whether malicious or because of training shortcomings, the results are the same for the business: reduced profitability.

Three common retraining needs often appear:

  • Time theft: Time theft is when employees are being paid to work but are doing something else instead. This can be simple productivity issues such as employees using their mobile phones during work hours. However, even these small lapses in productivity can lead to, for example, stores being cleaned less often than they should be.
  • A lack of customer engagement: The sale of recreational cannabis represents a new industry. This makes the butender a particularly important position for driving sales. Since customers may not know what they want or the differences between similar products, engaging with customers will boost sales.
  • Discount abuse: Discount abuse is when employees use discounts incorrectly. This can sometimes be malicious, for example someone using their employee discount to reduce the prices for friends and family. Often, though, it is an employee improperly stacking discounts, for example those meant for seniors and veterans, due to a training deficit. In either case, it costs the company money.

The biggest Cookies retailer uses Solink to prevent excessive discounting. Here’s how Ryan Dzwigalski, the Director of Loss Prevention for the largest Cookies operator, explains it:

“I use Solink to proactively monitor high-risk transactions. We don’t get a lot of refunds at Cookies because of the nature of the product. So any refund transaction is checked. Big discounts are more common, and I like to go through and check all of them. We offer a lot of discounts, and many customers want to stack all of the different discounts even though it is against our policy. There are also regulatory limits on total discounts for cannabis in some states that need to be followed. Once I identify an incorrect discount, I search for all transactions performed by that salesperson and I always find other cases.”


More effective onboarding

One common difficulty in onboarding new staff for dispensaries is a lack of real-world examples of what to do, as well as what not to do. Cannabis live video surveillance gives you the ability to find and save clips of employee interactions with customers, and all of the other tasks your staff is expected to perform on a daily basis.

This is especially valuable for loss prevention onboarding and training. You can save clips of employee theft events, mistakes during inventory management, and improper use of discounts. In the cannabis industry, where the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are often regulated, these errors could further compromise your business.

Simply showing new employees these clips gives them an understanding of how they should act as an employee in your dispensary. It also subtly reminds them that theft will be uncovered and there will be consequences.

The biggest Cookies retailer uses Solink to perform loss prevention onboarding. Here’s how Ryan Dzwigalski, the Director of Loss Prevention for the largest Cookies operator, explains it:

“During onboarding, I'll show off the Solink platform. New employees find it really cool, but it also helps create the impression that we are in control. It shows new employees that we are watching, and that we have the ability to find anything. I’ll show them videos from stores that are months old in crisp HD and follow a person through the store and zoom in on what they are doing. They think I'm just showing off our great security system, but in the back of their head, they now know I’m watching."

Respond to issues in real time

Issues tend to compound until they are solved. This means a small problem in the morning can spiral out of control leading to your business not meeting its goal. Cloud video surveillance gives dispensaries access to their security camera feeds from anywhere, 24 hours a day. One of the biggest benefits of cannabis live video surveillance is that you can identify and solve minor issues before they multiply.

Threshold Notifications allows businesses to set limits on the metrics important to them: speed of service, hourly revenue, average transaction discount, or anything else you can track. Then you can get a proactive notification any time your core metrics are outside of your comfort zone.

Here’s an example. Your dispensary averages $1,000/hour in sales. You set up a Threshold Notification for hourly sales <$500. When alerted to the drop in sales, you review the video footage of the previous hour. You can instantly see, for example, that employees have spent much of the last hour chatting by the POS instead of engaging with customers.

Remote monitoring

Remote video monitoring gives you the ability to audit your dispensaries for company policy compliance without visiting in person. While on-premises audits are not going away—and they shouldn’t—for locations in remote areas or those with known issues that need to be checked up on more regularly, live video surveillance can make it possible to give them the care they need while saving time.

A person holding up a phone with a video on it.

Voids, no-sale till opens, cash returns, and high discount ratios are all high-risk transactions. Solink gives you the ability to search, sort, and video review every POS transaction remotely to make sure company policies are being followed.

Some regulatory organizations, including the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), require all cannabis returns to be submitted within 30 days. This is a tight deadline when you need to gather the evidence manually, making POS monitoring particularly important for cannabis dispensaries.

Canada Buds uses Solink to quickly process returns, gather the required evidence, and submit them to the AGCO within the 30-day deadline. Here’s what Aaron Zgud, the Chief Executive Officer of Canada Buds, has to say:

“The AGCO requires 30 days, and that wasn’t something that was easy to do with the system we had before. I was basically having to back it up every day because it takes a lot of storage space to have that much footage.”


Optimal merchandising

Solink has a heat map tool to show where people move through a location. Heat maps can give you an idea of where in your dispensaries attract the most people. Many might think that the displays closest to the entrance or by the front counter attract the most people and therefore should have the merchandise with the greatest margins.

However, in many dispensaries this is not the case. Using cannabis live video surveillance, it is possible to make decisions based on real data instead of intuition.

Canada Buds uses Solink to improve the merchandising in their dispensaries. Here’s what Aaron Zgud, the Chief Executive Officer of Canada Buds, has to say:

“At the beginning, the display closest to the entrance, where people felt less comfortable going, was where we put the best products. So we ended up moving those products to where everybody gathered. And then, by actually looking at the heat map, you could tell that it forced people to spread out. That was one of the most surprising benefits of Solink.”

Better asset protection/loss prevention

When discussing asset protection/loss prevention (AP/LP) for cannabis, it’s important to separate the internal and external threats. Both are major issues, but they often use different tactics and therefore require different strategies to prevent.

Internal theft is when people inside an organization steal from it. One common example of internal theft found in cannabis dispensaries is discount abuse. However, theft of products also occurs.

Conversely, external theft is when those outside the organization do. The most common type of external theft in dispensaries is shoplifting. In jurisdictions where all of the product must be kept in a backroom, shoplifting is less common but major nighttime burglaries or armed robberies can occur.

Here’s a helpful chart:

This helpful infographic summarizes all the different types of internal and external theft affecting businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

For external theft, video alarms are a great tool. Video alarms use your existing cameras to enhance or replace your panel alarm system. This has several advantages.

For example, Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service protects entire areas instead of just doors in windows. Then, when motion is detected, a real person reviews the live footage to confirm whether there is a real threat to your dispensary.

Only when a threat is detected is a request sent for law enforcement to be dispatched. The real-time video is then shared with dispatchers so they can respond more appropriately.

This leads to faster response times, making it more likely that a burglary will be interrupted, the stolen property recovered, and the perpetrators arrested.

Solink has several features that makes it easier to identify and investigate internal theft as well. For example, Solink connects to many other systems to pair data with matching video footage, including the point of sale (POS).

POS monitoring gives you the ability to quickly filter all of your transactions by type, size, date, employee number, products, or any other keywords. You can find all of your high-risk transactions (voids, no-sale till opens, cash returns, etc.) in minutes and then review the paired video to confirm they are legitimate.

The largest Cookies retailer uses Solink to improve their loss prevention. By pairing with the POS, using Solink means that if you find one instance of theft you often find dozens of similar events. Here’s what their Director of Loss Prevention, Ryan Dzwigalski, has to say:

“In a couple of stores, there have been instances where I find one person doing something, and then when I run a copy of that search in Solink for other employees I find they are doing the same thing. In one case, instead of finding one employee committing fraud, I was able to find four people committing the same form of fraud with Solink.”


Add context to business metrics

As mentioned above, POS monitoring can be used to mitigate the risk of employee theft. That’s just one of the ways it can provide context to your metrics. Let’s look at a simple example.

Your cannabis dispensary offers a discount to veterans. On average, 10% of sales have a veterans discount applied. However, you notice that 30% of sales yesterday were given a military discount.

What happened?

  • Did an employee accidentally apply the veterans discount to all of their sales?
  • Was the staff applying the veterans and senior citizens discounts simultaneously?
  • Was there a large influx of veterans by chance on that day?

The only way to know exactly what is going on—and therefore what you need to do to rectify the situation—is to watch the real-time security footage. Retail video surveillance for cannabis dispensaries gives you the needed context to not just know about a problem but to solve it.

To see all the ways Solink can help your business, book a demo today.

Better security

Solink is a complete video management system (VMS). With all of the included tools, you can now search for theft or other security incidents, save the videos, organize all the evidence gathered for an event, and share it internally and with law enforcement in one platform.

That makes Solink the best way to perform remote video surveillance for cannabis. In addition to helping with internal and external theft, Solink can help with other security incidents as well. This includes watching your business at night.

Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service can better protect your business. Since trained professionals review the real-time footage of alarm events, they know exactly what is happening. When an emergency response is required, the video feeds can even be shared with law enforcement to improve their response.

In a recent independent comparison of Solink Video Alarms and traditional panel alarms, video alarms led to multiple arrests while traditional alarms led to zero apprehensions.

Alarm verification

Alarm verification gives trained professionals the ability to review in real time what is happening on a site before deciding whether an emergency response is warranted.

Since an emergency response is only requested when necessary, verified alarms save you money. While many police forces no longer respond to unverified alarms, where they do false alarm fines are increasing.

In the same head-to-head comparison mentioned above, Solink Video Alarms led to a 100% decrease in false alarm fines across multiple restaurant locations. This amounts to thousands of dollars in savings per year per location, often paying for the entire live video surveillance system contract alone.

A mobile app showing the status of a store.

Better customer service

Employees should be engaging with every visitor as they enter your dispensary. This is an effective sales tactic that will help increase your revenue. Especially in the cannabis industry, trusted budtenders providing useful information about products are crucial to driving revenue.

Cannabis live video surveillance can be used in many ways to improve customer service in your dispensaries. For example, you can review video to see whether employees are engaging with visitors as they enter the dispensary. If you have audio equipment, you can even listen in to hear whether budtenders are consistently pushing the right upsells to get more revenue per sale.

Improved relationship with law enforcement

Retailers try to build strong relationships with local law enforcement. They want responses to their stores to be prompt and appropriate. This is especially true for cannabis dispensaries, which are popular targets for burglaries and robberies. One of the easiest ways to build a strong relationship with the police is to provide them with the evidence they need to help you.

When an incident occurs, Solink’s live video surveillance platform makes it easy to find, save, and share video footage of the event. Use motion search to find the incident, save the clips including multiple angles where necessary, and then send them to the police via email.

When police trust you to provide evidence, they are more inclined to fully investigate every incident. In fact, they might start coming to you looking for video feeds that have street views to help with investigations.

The largest Cookies retailer uses Solink to build their relationship with law enforcement. Here’s what their Director of Loss Prevention, Ryan Dzwigalski, has to say:

“I’ve been in loss prevention for 20 years. I wish I had something like Solink before because being able to share video with the police so easily is huge. It was always such a hassle before. You’d have to find a USB stick, get their address, put it in a bubbled envelope, and drop it off at the police dropbox. Then, the police might not be able to open the file. If you get a reputation of not providing the needed evidence, police can become less responsive to non-emergency calls like theft. Now, Solink has helped me create a good relationship with law enforcement. It is such a huge benefit, especially in the cannabis industry because it is so tightly regulated.”

Regulatory compliance

Most cannabis security plans must include security cameras and an alarm system to be approved. Live video surveillance helps your cannabis business meet regulatory compliance so you can open your dispensary.

While this is why most cannabis dispensaries install a video surveillance system, as you can see from the above, the benefits go way beyond meeting your legal requirements to open for business.

Solink provides a customizable cloud-first video analytics platform. Most cannabis dispensaries install security systems for regulatory compliance. However, the benefits go way beyond security.

Productivity and training, health and safety, cleanliness, security, and customer service can all be monitored with cannabis live video surveillance. This can improve profitability through both increased revenue and decreased expenses.

To see how Solink can help you monitor all of your dispensaries, sign up for a demo today.

To see all the ways Solink can help your business, book a demo today.

Tim Ware headshot

Timothy Ware |

Timothy Ware is Solink’s Content Manager. He brings over ten years of writing and editing experience to the job. When he isn’t writing about security, loss prevention, and asset protection, he’s enjoying his newest board game. His work has appeared on many B2B SaaS websites including Baremetrics, Security Today, TeamPassword, Cova, and SignTime.