MJBizMag August 2020 - 84

Green
Lockdown
" Most grows do use keycard or key-fob access control for tracking
employees' movement throughout a facility, " said Kevin Brown, sales
manager for Helix Security. " You want to be able to limit access to
individual rooms. For example, only manager-level employees should
have access to the vault room and security room. The access-control
system also produces an audit log. Should you have an incident, you'll
be able to see who accessed which rooms when. "
Some state regulations, including California's, require audit logs to
be stored in a secure environment. Experts recommend investing in
reliable, redundant storage for security records such as audit logs and
months to years of security-camera footage.
Cameras and video recording are a
vital security tool-and a core cost. Ali
Kafaii is co-founder and chief operations
officer of Source Cannabis in Los
Angeles, which operates two grows in the
city. " We have interactive cameras, which
people monitor 24/7. We do anything
anybody could imagine for securing the
safety of the building-including cameras
that cover certain hallways (and) areas
that would be dead spots, like angles and
turns or corners. We make sure we can
cover everything, including the roof. "
In addition to exterior and interior
visual cameras, Stuart's Albuquerque
facility includes drop cameras in specific
locations, including the vault, with
sound monitoring. If the vault camera hears a burglar working with
tools, it sets off an alarm.
Ali Kafaii
These kinds of camera installations aren't cheap if they're done right.
" If anyone charges less than $300 per camera installed, I'd be cautious-unless
it's a super-simple install, " Simon warned. " You're looking
at cabling costs, camera setup, miscellaneous materials, licensing costs
for software and storage, which may not be included in that cost. "
Simon estimates on-site storage at anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000,
depending on how much video a grower is required to keep. States such
as California and Pennsylvania, for instance, require growers to store up
to four years of video.
Instead of " a stack of 11 DVRs, " Simon advised growers to invest in a
professional, computer server-based solution.
Brown agreed. " There's a real benefit to backing up video to the cloud.
For one, you're eliminating the large capital expense of NVRs (network
video records) and local storage hardware. You're also protected from
hard-drive failure if video is stored redundantly in the cloud. And it
protects your data from being stolen (during a break-in). "
While buying hardware involves one initial capital expense, cloud video
involves a recurring monthly or yearly fee. The cost varies depending on
the resolution of stored video and the number of days stored.
An alarm system is standard these days and often required by
regulations. Every potential entrance point should be alarmed, from
fences to windows and doors.
82 Marijuana Business Magazine | August 2020
Eliminating Inside Jobs
Grant Whitus, president of Denver-based Helix
Security, says most cash and product loss at
cannabis companies is internal.
To help combat theft, Whitus recommends
employees don't enter the growing area until
they have changed into their work clothes, such
as scrubs or medical-style clothing without
pockets. Once changed, employees can enter
the secured area to do their work, including
cutting. When they leave, they change into street
clothes and cannot return into the secured area,
where the product is, until their next shift.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, High Desert Relief
co-owner Drew Stuart agrees with that general
approach. " We have employees change into
topcoats: no pockets, no bags, " he said. " You
can't completely micromanage-you have to have
people you can trust. But ... there are very few
times an individual is in a room by themselves.
They're in there with 10 other guys, so they will
be less inclined to try to do something. "
At Source Cannabis in Los Angeles, co-founder
and Chief Operating Officer Ali Kafaii takes
internal security a step further. His employees
change into scrubs when they're working.
When employees enter and exit, company
security searches them and their belongings.
" We get mixed responses, " Kafaii said. " There's
pushback from some and relief from others. "
Pay can be another theft deterrent. Stuart
said, " We pay really well, too, so people aren't
concerned with money; they don't feel they
have to help themselves. We think it's important
to invest in the people who are responsible for
these things. "
That doesn't mean growers should operate
on blind trust. After a painful loss early in the
life of the business-from an employee he
considered a close friend-Stuart and his team
learned their lesson. " I can't say we haven't
had anything taken, but not to the extent that
we've noticed-and we do check. "
Growers should weigh product wet and dry
and know their standard formula for dry-down,
Stuart recommended. " If anything's off, then we
investigate. There's no fixed standard-some
strains dry more than others, some hold
moisture, but we've got a good guide internally. "
Just as growers should monitor their alarms,
cameras and staff, they should evaluate and
update their security plans on a regular basis.
Helix Security recommends a twice yearly
review and evaluation.
" It's an ongoing basis for us, " Kafaii said. " We do
reevaluate it constantly-every couple weeks.
Usually, no major changes are made unless
they're needed. "
- Susanna Donato

MJBizMag August 2020

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