While the use of medical marijuana has been approved in 23 states as of June of this year, the recent legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington has been a proverbial game-changer for the cannabis industry. Of course, opening a dispensary, be it for medicinal purposes or otherwise, isn’t as simple as opening a local liquor store. Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. government, which makes growing it and selling it illegal under federal law. As such, a majority of banks remain reluctant to accept money generated from the sale of pot thereby essentially making the industry an all-cash business.
This creates a two-fold problem; not only do the growers and sellers of marijuana in states where its use is legal have to protect their product, but they also have to safeguard their profits from would-be robbers. Fortunately, for some of these cannabis business owners, there have been a handful of security companies willing to step in and help them mitigate their risks. One of these companies is DirectView Security, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DirectView Holdings that designs and installs security systems as well as manufacturers its own line of surveillance cameras and recorders.
“We saw this vertical market as a great vertical to get into because they need security,” said DirectView Chairman and CEO Roger Ralston. “The compliance (element) is huge for this market and we have the expertise to deliver what they need.”
According to Ralston, DirectView provides a comprehensive security solution to its customers in the cannabis industry. The company, which also counts some of the world’s largest corporations including AT&T, Coca-Cola, Marriott Corporation, TD Securities, Waste Management, Trump, and Sprint among its’ clients, opened an office in Colorado earlier this year with the purpose of supporting the burgeoning cannabis industry.
“We provide everything from general consulting, the design work, equipment procurement for everything that they need… as well as the ongoing support and monitoring,” explained Ralston. “The reason that we got into (the market) was because we were contacted by a couple of people looking for (security) and we really had the whole vertical introduced to us. The majority of our business has actually been more word of mouth than advertising even. We’re actually picking up the advertising side right now, but I had somebody come to me and say, ‘you know this is a great space and we’ve got a real need here; can you help us out with this?’ I started looking at this a little bit more and thought this was a fantastic opportunity for us. We’ve actually got a whole lot in the pipeline that were working on right now for it.”
Ralston emphasized, however, that DirectView is not “pigeonholing” itself into being just a provider of security services to the cannabis industry and pointed out the fact that they are a publicly-traded company that sells to all industries. “This just happens to be a terrific industry that needs our services,” he said.
Aside from securing product and cash on hand, Ralston said one thing that’s they’ve found unique in working in the cannabis industry is the need to provide constant monitoring of temperature and lighting within these marijuana growing facilities.
“Besides worrying about the cameras, perimeter security and who is coming in and who is going out, the access control and alarms, we also have to worry about the temperature and lighting inside because, obviously, the marijuana requires certain lighting and certain temperatures so if there is any variance in that, it could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
From an actual security perspective, Ralston said it’s paramount for these cannabis businesses to have high-quality surveillance systems.