The Importance of Retail Video Surveillance for Cannabis Businesses

March 30, 2020

Cannabis retail and an outdated video surveillance system make for a poor combination – for reasons that extend beyond simply running afoul of regulatory requirements for how the premises must be secured.

Legalization of cannabis for recreational use has become a new growth business across North America. Recreational use became legal in Canada in October 2018. Despite its continued prohibition under federal U.S. law, 11 U.S. states to date have legalized recreational use.

While consumers in these jurisdictions may now be able to freely partake, retail cannabis dispensaries must abide by some hard-nosed regulatory requirements, not the least of which is how their premises are secured and monitored.

The requirements are clear

In Ontario, for example, the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores specify “a secure, high-resolution surveillance system must be in place at all times.” Surveillance cameras and lighting must be positioned to clearly capture 24-hour coverage of the interior of the premises and immediately outside the premises, including all entrances and exits, pick-up areas for orders placed online or by phone, the point of sale (POS), receiving areas for deliveries, storage areas and sales floor areas.

In other words, practically every square inch of the premises, short of the washroom, should be covered by video. Furthermore, all this video surveillance footage must be retained and made accessible for a minimum of 30 days.

Similar regulatory requirements exist across Canada and in the U.S. states that have legalized cannabis use under local statutes, with some variances depending on the state or province in question.

One of the easiest ways to keep up to date on the ever-changing regulatory environment is to attend cannabis conventions.

Surveillance video footage of a Cannabis plant.

In a class all of its own vs. conventional retail

Cannabis dispensaries face some unique challenges and threats versus traditional retail – the product inventory is arguably more susceptible to loss and shrinkage due to employee theft. Since this is early days, it’s fair to say that retailers that may have just recently secured a retail license are under extra scrutiny to demonstrate they can run a tight ship. And due to the nature of the product, there may be higher risk of internal thefts, break-ins and scraps with intoxicated customers.

Having a robust video surveillance system just isn’t about meeting regulatory requirements, it’s a vitally important way to ensure the business owner/manager has an extra measure of security and peace of mind for asset protection and enforce the good behaviour of employees and customers alike.

So what exactly do we mean by “robust?” Video surveillance today, given what it is being called on to do, requires far more than dumb sets of digital eyes that just record what they see. A modern digital video surveillance system combines a time and date stamped feed with collected video analytics and data.

Integration with other retail systems is key

Take, for example, the POS and inventory management. Data from inventory and POS systems can be connected directly with surveillance footage – every action taken with a product can be tracked and reviewed instantaneously. Today’s intuitive search features enable managers and owners to find in seconds the video footage from hours of recordings that corresponds with when a sale was voided, a refund given, a spillage recorded, or any area of the storage area accessed.

Many cannabis retailers are navigating uncharted territory. The convergence of surveillance video and data analytics gives them a new business intelligence tool. With all POS transactions, deliveries, and employee access to storage areas synchronized with video security footage, owners and managers can prevent loss, reduce shrinkage, identify the need for additional staff training, and ensure high brand standards and quality service.

A vital business investment

Investing in modern video surveillance technology isn’t just about meeting regulatory requirements. It also gives the retailer the insight for better risk management and proactive problem-solving that will help ensure the success of their new business.

At Solink, we can deliver a service package that’s been customized expressly for the unique needs of cannabis retail, backed up by a support team that is unmatched.

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