Picture a cluster of buildings spread over thousands of square feet, sitting behind a ten foot high chain link and razor wire topped security fence.
The entry to the site is restricted to authorized personnel who have obtained security clearance from law enforcement after thorough background checks. All entry and exits points are heavily guarded and constantly under video surveillance.
The perimeter and the areas inside the buildings are monitored by CCTV cameras 24/7, as well as by infrared cameras that can record without ambient light.
Sensors on the fence alert security in case of any intrusion, and the cameras are rigged so that any attempt to tamper with them immediately triggers an alarm.
If you are anywhere else in the world this could be a hush- hush military location butif you are in Canada, you are likely looking at a medical marijuana facility.
Medical Marijuana- The New Gold
In April 2014, medical marijuana security rules for licensed providers were revised by Health Canada, mandating that only those with Level 7 security requirements[A1] and up would be able to do business.
These rules can be found in the Directive on Physical Security Requirements for Controlled Substances released by the agency.
One of the requirements mandated is the 24/7 video surveillance.
The reason for this is obvious —
Medical marijuana grown in these facilities has an extremely high street value-one gram costs between $5 to$13.50. Besides, marijuana in Canada is still illegal for recreational use and the police can arrest you for possession of pot.
Therefore, these facilities are designed and locked to ensure that weed growing inside is completely accounted for. One facility went to the extent of scrubbing the air coming out of the processing areas with carbon filters and ozone to remove any odors. They also used HEPA filters to remove particulate matter!
But it’s no easy task to make sure that a bud or a leaf of weed does not go missing. These facilities are vast and comprise. For instance, a 55,000 square foot facility has:
- Decontamination Rooms- Staff enters here, puts on clean room suits like the kind used by staff in traditional pharmaceutical facilities before passing through an airlock.
- Mother Room- Thousands of potted plants with different strains of pot are grown here until they reach maturity before being clipped.
- Clone Room- The clippings are put in trays in a high humidity area until they grow roots.
- Flower Room- These clones are grown into full size in another room under controlled conditions until harvest time, when leaves turn yellow and buds red.
- Trimming Room- The buds are trimmed with scissors in the trimming room. Everything going in and coming out of this room is carefully weighed so all is accounted for.
- Dry Room- The buds are hung out to dry. This is the finished product that will be tested by Health Canada.
The processed marijuana is kept in a locked vault or safe that complies with Health Canada regulations.
All these areas see daily footfalls, and one of the easiest ways to ensure that there is no pilferage, as well as monitor the sensitive environment in which the plants are grown, is to place the entire facility under 24/7 video surveillance.
Video Surveillance Tips for Medical Marijuana Facilities
Given that these processing plants are housed in such sprawling locations, would it be feasible to keep every square foot under video surveillance, 24/7?
To answer this question, use this simple rule of thumb: where there is cannabis, there has to be a camera.
To start off, you have to do a thorough security assessment of your entire facility; it may look secure to the naked eye but every strong chain has weak links. Check the perimeter, the entry and exit points to pick out the vulnerable spots so that they can be constantly monitored.
The interior of a hi-tech medical marijuana facility has areas with different lighting conditions. Accordingly, you can’t use a single type of surveillance solution or one type of camera:
- For the perimeter, as well as the main entry and exit points a normal CCTV camera and infrared cameras for surveillance after dark would have to be installed at different locations with overlapping arcs of view. They will have to be housed in vandal proof and weather-proof enclosures.
- For the brightly lit interior areas like the greenhouses, labs and the vault, or for areas with difference in foreground and background light levels, Wide Dynamic Range CCTV cameras are recommended. This is because normal cameras will not be able to capture the difference in exposure in such areas, causing the image on the screen to go dark or look washed out.
- All cameras should have full HD resolution (1080p) so that the image is crystal clear and there is no graininess. Anything less would defeat the entire purpose of surveillance. The focal length of the lens should be adjustable so that the operator can zoom in towards a specific location.
- Depending on technical assessment you can also opt for IP Video, where cameras record video and transmit it over say, Wi-Fi. This can be useful if you need to monitor difficult to wire locations.
You will also need to use video management software and cctv security systems toronto. For archiving, most facilities are integrating capacity to store two years worth of footage offsite, in accordance with disaster recovery and business continuity planning norms.
Investing in robust video surveillance solutions for your facilities will keep you on the right side of regulators, ensure high levels of security and aid in delivering quality product.
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