Outdoor Video Surveillance Tips for Cannabis Dispensaries

Outdoor surveillance

Outdoor Video surveillance is to be to strictly comply at most legal cannabis states with stringent video surveillance regulations. These rules often span every department of dispensaries, from “seed-to-sale”.


Though they’re not applied uniformly across all the legal states and on all types of dispensaries, these patchworks of regulations share some commonalities. In general, dispensaries are required to have a video surveillance system that can capture and store crucial details of scenes and events in each department of the business, from the cannabis farms to the retail storefront and everything in-between.


We’ll take a closer look at these commonalities across legal cannabis states. We’ll also show you how best to keep to your state requirements and also ensure airtight security in your dispensary at all times.

Complying with Video Quality Regulations

Video quality regulations stipulate the minimum level of image quality that surveillance feeds of cannabis dispensaries must record with. In California, dispensaries are required to use a minimum camera resolution of 128×720. However, the lowest quality threshold among states stipulates that the image resolutions must capture a clear image of a person’s face from 20 feet away.


In some states, we doubt whether policymakers have consulted surveillance experts over these surveillance requirements. These states stipulate that the minimum shooting resolution that meets this 20 feet requirement is 640×470 – a standard that’s barely recognized in the video surveillance industry today. To provide more contexts, D1 DVR cameras from the 80s’ shoot 720×480.


Now, it’s practically impossible to comply with this average image quality requirement using old-fashioned cameras like those that shoot anything below 1024×1080. Ideally, you should opt for lenses shooting 1080P (1920×1080) and above, going the extra mile to ensure you always have crisp footages available to explain any incidence in your dispensary. Most modern cameras are either 1080P, 2x1080P (4MP), or 4K.

Complying with Camera Placement Regulations

Most legal states also stipulate common camera placement rules for cannabis dispensaries. In California, dispensaries are required to place video cameras in the following areas:


-Areas where cannabis goods are prepared, weighed, packed, stored, loaded, and unloaded

-All Restricted areas

-Security rooms

-Areas storing a surveillance-system storage device

-Entrances and exits to the dispensary

Outdoor security camera

Generally, dispensaries across legal states are required to keep all entrances and exits to their facilities monitored round the clock. They’re also required to constantly monitor the entries and exits to cannabis farm enclosures and other restricted areas.


Like in California, most states also require dispensaries to keep round-the-clock video records of activities in any department handling marijuana for any reason, from the cannabis farms, to the processing and production factories, and the cannabis waste management department. Note also that state image quality thresholds apply across every stipulated camera positioning.

Satisfying Video Retention Regulations

Cannabis dispensaries need to store surveillance video recordings for a set period. Most legal states require 24/7 surveillance video coverage of strategic points around dispensaries. That means you’ll most likely come in need of massive hard drives to keep up with retention requirements.


In some legal states, dispensaries are required to store all surveillance records for a minimum of 45 days. In California, the minimum is a staggering 90 days. However, a simple hack can help you store a whole lot more footage with less storage space.


First, you need to understand that the space consumption of videos varies depending on the changes in the scenes being recorded. For instance, videos taken after working hours with everywhere deserted consume less space compared to those of an active afternoon. To put things in perspective, with the deserted scene, the video doesn’t record new information most times in its frame-by-frame advancements.


Now, why is that important? Most modern cameras shoot an average of 30FPS (frames every second). However, in many states, the requirements for dispensaries are as low as 10FPS. So if you opt for cameras shooting around 10 – 15FPS (many states, including California, stipulate 15FPS as the minimum threshold), you can cut down your storage requirements significantly.

Dealing with In-House Security Threats

Security threats that face cannabis dispensaries take on a different dimension compared to those of other types of buildings. If your cannabis products fall into the wrong hands, we’re not just talking about financial losses but potential public health scandals with addictive substances from your dispensary looming large.


Security concerns are at the heart of state surveillance regulations for cannabis dispensaries. But since blanket requirements may not properly address the unique needs of your cannabis dispensary, you might need a


You need to set up high-resolution camera coverage not just around the entrance and exits of the facilities and growing areas, but also around the till or cash counters, the entire sales floor, as well as the parking and loading areas. 


You won’t just be guarding against intruders and thieves, you’ll also protect your company from employee thefts. For dispensaries where the manager isn’t always around to audit daily sales records, it’s crucial to install HD cameras directly above the cash register to prevent employees from digging into the till, doctoring sales reports, engaging in shady deals, or giving unauthorized discounts.

Deterring Crime with a Live Video Surveillance System with Proactive Response

Live video monitoring


Live video surveillance paired with a proactive response mechanism can help cannabis dispensaries to detect, deter, and resolve crimes in a timely fashion. Cannabis dispensaries need to be watched live at all times by surveillance experts who also collaborate with emergency response services to respond in time to any threats.

With a live video surveillance system, you’ll have experts looking out for any suspicious activities with well-trained eyes and sharing video feeds with the authority and emergency services to resolve threats more quickly.


Monitoring Operations

Surveillance systems can also help you monitor all your employees to make sure they adhere to company values and procedural standards, from the cannabis farm to retail and accounting. With this advantage, you can rest assured that your employees will not sabotage your efforts to keep up with high standards, whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally. Video surveillance cameras can be pivotal in your cannabis farm, enabling you to easily spot and correct poor growing practices.

Video surveillance systems also give you an ‘eagled-eyed’ perspective of your daily operations, making it much easier to spot inefficiencies and gain insights that’ll help improve your business. With the best security cameras, you can even do all that remotely at the comfort of your home, without having to be present on the premises at all times.

Video surveillance also makes it easier for you to track all your inventories – including those on transit. If your dispensary offers delivery services, you can use video surveillance systems to track your delivery trucks to ensure that your goods are always transported securely from one place to another.

Deploying Regular Site Patrol

In California as well as most other legal states, dispensaries are also required to hire security personnel to patrol the site. The security guard must have a state license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.

Some jurisdictions go further to stipulate the requirements for the patrol operations. In Sacramento, CA, for instance, the patrol guards must always be stationed within a 100 feet of the site.


Thanks to advancements in video surveillance technology, cannabis dispensaries can easily meet up with state surveillance requirements while also catering to unique security needs.

Aclarity provides a well-rounded surveillance services with response that helps cannabis dispensaries adhere to the highest production and delivery standards. We’ll help you easily keep track of your inventories, employee, and visitors.

Reach out to us today and let’s help you craft the best surveillance system for the unique floor plans of your dispensary.

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