You may have seen the news footage last week. Boisterous Canadians lined up to be among the first to purchase recreational marijuana legally. Canada is only the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use nationally. Not surprisingly, the industry is growing rapidly, even in the U.S., where cannabis remains largely illegal. And where high-value items are produced, transported and sold, thieves are bound to come.
In February 2018, Canopy Growth Corp. moved 100,000 marijuana plants from its Smith Falls, Ontario facility to its 1.3 million-square-foot joint venture facility in Langley, B.C. The plants were delivered by armoured vehicles. Jordan Sinclair of Canopy Growth, pointed out the tight security, “There’s fences and only a couple entry points, cameras everywhere. Also, the site itself is difficult to access: once you get in, you need swipe cards and biometric information.”
Security Measures for Growers and Retailers
Part of the reason for the tight security is Canadian law. Even before recreational cannabis was legalized, medical marijuana producers had strict security requirements to qualify for a license. Previous regulations required:
- Physical barriers and signage securing the site
- Minimal, secured entry points, openings, ducts etc.
- Secured, monitored glazing for greenhouses
- Solid walls (eg concrete and steel mesh) and other structural defences
And security cameras. Lots and lots of video cameras. Monitored 24/7.
While Health Canada has indicated it won’t require cannabis to be stored as a controlled substance and areas where it is grown won’t need to be visually monitored, licensed producers will still need
- Strict inventory control measures
- Secured and visually monitored site perimeters
- Intrusion detection systems
Indoor areas where cannabis is present must have physical barriers, intrusion detection systems, visual monitoring and recordings, and restricted-access entry and exit logs.
An article in the Montreal Gazette detailed some of the security measures Quebec growers and retailers have put in place to protect their valuable assets. These include:
- Barbed wire fences
- Metal cages and curtains
- Armed guards
- Bullet-proof vehicles
- Biometric locks
- Motion sensors
- 12-inch concrete walls
And of course, security cameras. Lots and lots of video cameras. Monitored 24/7.
Why Remote Video Monitoring Works for Grow Ops
Unlike traditional CCTV security cameras, remotely monitored event-triggered security cameras are ideal for marijuana grow ops. Video-analytics software can detect human movement in outdoor environments while filtering for weather, animals and other natural elements. Sophisticated security cameras, intruder detection and access control also form part of a 24/7 monitored security solution for production, storage and retail facilities, indoor and out. Trained operators at a central command centre can respond to any alerts from this security system and notify police of a verified crime in progress. Police dispatch usually assigns such verified reports top priority and respond within minutes and catch the crooks red-handed.
Thinking Outside the Box
While remote video monitoring solutions like Radius’ Redhanded Human Detection Technology remain popular with construction sites and auto dealership, it is effective in many situations involving high-value assets stored outdoors, including farming and cannabis production. In future blogs, we will take a look at other less-well-known applications.
Health Canada Brings Down the Cannabis Vault. Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Feb 1, 2018.
Butler, Patrick. Cannabis is legal in Canada: Here’s what you need to know. CBC News, October 17, 2018.
Curtis, Christopher. Barbed wire & bullets: Quebec’s multi-million-dollar cannabis security. Montreal Gazette, July 13, 2018.
Cannabis in Canada: What industry needs to know about cannabis. Government of Canada.
Guidance Document – Building and Production Security Requirements for Marihuana for Medical Purposes (archived). Government of Canada.
Licensing: An overview of the Canadian landscape. Cannabis Compliance Inc.