by F. Thurston Pearson
Establishing a legal marijuana business is never an easy endeavor. In fact, just navigating the application requirements is often so daunting many people give up rather than endure what has been described not inaccurately as a cross between a mortgage loan document and an IRS audit. I’ve even seen I-502 paperwork submitted by expensive attorneys who whiffed so many answers the WSLCB kicked the Application Packet back for a do-over.
It ain’t easy, trying to be green.
Still, and with an almost exponential cadence, medical and recreational marijuana startups are exploding across the US. For most ganjatrepreneurs, getting through the application process is just the start of the fun.
One of the myriad byproducts of legalization in Colorado and Washington was a higher profile for the infrastructural components the states’ viewed as integral to a law-abiding, tax-paying marijuana business. The regulatory hurdles applicants have to clear puts a spotlight on the vendors of those services the state deems mandatory for licensure, and both legal and medical cannabis businesses increasingly embrace the legitimacy these marijuana industry-specific products and services bring to their operations, whether it’s mandated by rule or not.
Traceability, inventory management, security, insurance and accounting are just a few of the business disciplines marijuana licensees have to get right, not only to survive state scrutiny and get and keep their legal marijuana business permit, but to thrive while running a fully compliant, happily profitable, 21st century marijuana enterprise.
Last month we focused on Marijuana Enterprise Software (Traceability Titans, June 2014) and this month we’re exploring the world of marijuana business security systems. Specifically, the Northwest’s own CannaGuard Security.
CannaGuard Security is a specialized marijuana enterprise security firm in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Owner Noah Stokes and manager Andrew Bradford have been helping Oregon MMJ businesses for several years and the company now designs cannabis security schemes for both Oregon and Washington marijuana businesses, including systems that are compliant with both Washington’s I-502 rules and Oregon’s HB 3460 rules.
CannaGuard aggressively leverages cutting-edge technology to design and deploy wireless security strategies that grow with the needs of their clients. And they’re creative too—having installed Bond-worthy system features like wireless outdoor rated rooftop motion detectors, long-range point-to-point laser beams that trip when the beam is broken, portable panic buttons, fingerprint access control panels and camera systems with backup cloud storage. One of the benefits of dealing with a company skilled at such a wide variety of technology is that it allows them to precisely apply exactly, and only, that technology which your always-unique situation requires.
CannaGuard is among a growing number of cannabis security specialists throughout the US. And it’s a good thing too. Most states with formal marijuana rules include specific security requirements for licensees, so it’s increasingly important for cannabis businesses to work with industry-specific vendors. Specialized experts like CannaGuard set themselves apart from other security vendors in a number of ways, not the least of which is that they take the time to carefully study the security-specific regulatory requirements your marijuana business must satisfy in order to ensure your system is 100% compliant with state rules… and that is something you absolutely will not find in the Costco aisle.
Quality Over Costco
And speaking of Costco, most DIY systems feature inexpensive cameras with lower resolution and inferior lenses, and they offer zero expandability. Though you may be able to eek out a legally compliant, though definitely not upgradable, security setup with a DIY kit, the difference between that gear and the good stuff has a huge impact on the utility of the system—especially as it applies to imagery. Sure, inexpensive cameras will likely capture the criminals loading your merchandise into their getaway car. But a good camera will show you that one of those crooks was good ol’ cousin Steve and provide a nice sharp image of a license plate number.
Here are several more important considerations when selecting a security vendor for your marijuana business, all of which are offered by CannaGuard Security:
Know It Alls! Firms like CannaGuard security are more that just marijuana-friendly professionals offering OMMP and I-502-compliant security solutions. Their bonafides include providing security services to marijuana businesses in Oregon and Washington for years. They’ve protected grow sites, dispensaries and other marijuana related operations in Oregon Washington and have a greater regulatory know-how than your typical security firm. When selecting a security vendor, press them for both experience with marijuana related businesses and for expertise regarding the specific security rules required for your state.
I love this feature. Very Star Trekie. Access your system anytime, from anywhere. Use your net-enabled device to literally see everything going on at your site. Remote access also provides the ability to control your system, change settings etc. A must have
Cellular Driven Tech. Land lines and Net-based systems are easier to circumvent and less reliable than cellular technology. Most quality systems utilize cell tech and use landlines and Internet based communicators as a backup.
Custom Consideration. Look for a vendor that offers systems tailored to your specific business. Legal marijuana businesses often face very specific security system requirements and almost always require a custom fit. Find a company that’s happy providing exactly and only what your business needs.
Controllable NagWare. Legal marijuana businesses in both Oregon Washington usually are required to implement security systems which provide the ability to notify the business owner in the event the security system has failed or is otherwise inoperable. Look for a system with customizable real time notifications/alerts, such as whether the system is armed or not, when the system is disarmed, when a certain person disarms the system outside of the normal timeframe, when someone tampers with a sensor and much more. A good system will give you tons of options and provide you the ability to fine tune notifications and change them as needed.
Log Headed. Ensure your system provides a detailed log and history of all openings and closings of any sensor or motion detector whether the system is armed or not. Lets you know if someone has been in a room, or even a drawer.
Who Ya Gonna Call? Good systems let you define who gets a text message when an alarm is activated. And many services include a “central station” which comes over the panel onsite and can listen in to determine if it’s you, or an intruder which increases response time.
Hot or Not? You definitely want the ability to monitor temperature and receive real time alerts of changes.
Wireless and Scalable. Most modern systems are not dependent on hard wired connectivity, which significantly reduces installation costs and makes expanding your system in the future a much easier process. Make sure your system is scalable so that the growth of your business doesn’t make it obsolete. IP cameras are virtually future-proof and enterprise class servers ensure adequate storage needs (45 days of 24/7 coverage for I-502 stakeholders and 30 days for HB3460 dispensaries) and can be easily upgraded and expanded simply by purchasing more memory.
Quash Your Inner Cheapskate. Don’t skimp on gear or deployment. Use high quality equipment and professional installers. As compared to inexpensive DIY systems, high grade equipment like IP cameras and enterprise servers offer more security, are easier to learn how to use, and won’t be useless when the rules in your state change or you switch from using MJ Freeway to AgriSoft. Features like software/POS integration, cloud and on-camera micro SD card redundancies, superior resolution, tracking, license plate recognition and more are options most marijuana businesses need, but that typically only a professional can properly deploy.