Oregon cannabis security mandates ready owners for sales explosion

Oct. 16, 2020
Savvy recreational cannabis business owners are securing facilities with extensive security systems

Oregon marijuana makes headlines every October when the state harvests thousands of acres of outdoor cannabis plants. But this fall, wildfires across the state overshadowed the phenomenon known as “Croptober.” 

Cannabis crops face destruction from massive wildfires, cultivators fear darkened skies clouded by smoke and ash will stunt plant growth, and retailers and dispensary operators fear their businesses will burn down.

As state cannabis businesses standoff against wildfire threats, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) released the “Business Readiness Guidebook for Oregon Recreational Marijuana Operations.” 

The guide helps applicants and licensees establish and operate OLCC-licensed recreational marijuana businesses. Following the book’s recommendations prepares businesses to operate responsibly, successfully, and comply with Oregon laws and OLCC rules. 

The document covers everything from business license types, the application process, developing a business plan, complying with local codes, worker health and safety, and more. What the guide doesn’t cover, however, is the security mandates found in Oregon Administrative Rules for recreational marijuana. 

But security plays an important role in the profitable Oregon cannabis market. The industry is growing as fast as wildfires are spreading. 

Oregon voters approved a measure in 2014 legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults. In 2016, the state issued its first recreational licenses for dispensaries, and since then, the industry becomes one of Oregon’s major revenue generators.

OLCC reported recreational sales totaled $452.4 million in 2017, $584.5 million in 2018, and $725.8 million in 2019. Oregon officials expect even higher totals in 2020 as sales escalate during the pandemic. 

Savvy recreational cannabis business owners are preparing their businesses for record sales but also are securing facilities with extensive security systems that include security cameras, alarms, and access control.

Build in Surveillance Security

Oregon legislators set stringent licensing, guidelines and laws pertaining to security cameras. We find these mandates in Oregon Administrative Rule 945-025-1460, which lists surveillance camera requirements for recreational marijuana. 

The legislation requires every licensed recreational marijuana business to have a fully operational video surveillance recording system that comprises of digital or network video recorders. 

The law also expects surveillance cameras to continually record at a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and at 10 frames per second. In addition, cameras must be capable of recording in all lighting conditions and users must be able to print a still photograph from any camera image. Licensees must equip the entire system with a failure notification system that notifies an authorized representative of a prolonged surveillance interruption or failure within one hour. The state also requires that the system have sufficient battery backup to support a minimum of one hour of recording time during a power outage. 

Under the law, cameras must capture video footage in all areas housing marijuana plants, usable marijuana, cannabinoid concentrates, extracts, products, or waste. Cameras also must cover all points of ingress and egress to and from areas where establishments keep marijuana plants, concentrates, extracts, products, or waste. 

The state requires licensees to keep video recordings a minimum of 90 calendar days in a locked secure area that only authorized personnel can access. Oregon also requires licensees to back up the video surveillance recordings off-site and in real-time for the surveillance room or surveillance area and keep these recordings for 30 days.

Businesses must maintain date- and time-stamped recordings in an OLCC-approved format that is easily reproduced and accessed for viewing.

Finally, the state permits off-site monitoring of surveillance cameras by the licensee or an independent third-party if the standards exercised at the remote location meet or exceed all standards for on-site monitoring.

Automate Alarms

OLCC also gets specific about the alarm system at recreational marijuana businesses. OAR 845-025-1420 requires a fully operational security alarm system that activates whenever the business is closed. 

This security alarm system must be able to detect unauthorized entry into the licensed premises and unauthorized entry within any limited access area where mature marijuana plants, usable marijuana, cannabinoid concentrates, extracts or products are present. Integrators also must program the system to notify the licensee and other authorized personnel when it detects unauthorized entry.

The state requires every alarm system to provide a way to immediately notify law enforcement or security company of unauthorized entry. OAR 845-025-1420 puts forth three ways to satisfy this requirement. Licensees can:

  • Install at least two panic buttons inside the premises that link to the alarm system and notify law enforcement or security of unauthorized entry.
  • They can provide operational panic buttons that employees carry. These panic buttons also must link to the alarm system and notify proper authorities during a breach.
  • Business owners can install a landline in all limited access areas to allow employees to call security or law enforcement when they detect unauthorized entry. 

Install Access Control

Oregon regulations say little about access control. The state requires businesses to restrict access to recreational marijuana outlets, but regulations do not mandate electronic access control systems. However, even without detailed requirements, installing access control remains a best practice for security. 

Oregon requires securing all entrances and limited access areas, storing products in a secure vault, and securing video storage devices. And record-keeping ranks high in Oregon’s recreational cannabis rules. The state requires licensees to keep a current list of all authorized employees and service personnel with access to the surveillance system and secure rooms on the licensed premises. They also must keep a surveillance equipment maintenance activity log on the licensed premises to record all service activity, including the identity of any individual performing the service, the service date and time, and the reason for service to the surveillance system.

Access control software helps licensees secure these areas and automates this record keeping. Access control software secures entrances and exits, lockers and cabinets, and storage and limited access areas while keeping a log of who enters and leaves.  

As recreational cannabis business owners ready themselves for record sales, they should also take steps to protect their people, products, and profits. Meet state mandates with security cameras and alarms, and protect access, then keep detailed records with access control.

About the author: Patrick Chown is the owner and president of the security integration company Seed to Sale Security, and the president of Safe and Sound Security, a national brand serving the cannabis industry in Oregon. Safe and Sound Security offers security system installation, compliant cannabis security plans, and cannabis security consulting to Oregon companies to safeguard crops and merchandise from theft.