The emerging legalized marijuana industry

The growing market for legal marijuana (now available in some form in 24 states) has also generated a demand for security products and service to protect the industry from illegal activities.

“For the most part, companies are looking for what we call the traditional surveillance systems whereby you have visible deterrence,” says Monty Henry, president of DPL-Surveillance-Equipment.com LLC in Ventura, Calif.

Many companies are seeking more sophisticated systems that can help them deal with employee theft, as well as monitoring for outside break-ins, according to Henry.

“We put more emphasis on the (security) systems that you don’t see,” he explains. “If your employees are running off with cash or merchandise, then you need to focus on (preventing) inside jobs. Many of our clients come to us because they want to know what is going on with internal theft and shrinkage. They want us to give them the tools they need to know what is going on internally."

Along with cameras, Henry’s company also provides GPS devices to track the movement of company vehicles. He has also found a growing demand for services such as sweeps to detect listening devices placed within the store or facility by competitors.

“Like any business that makes money, competitors usually want to find out how you make money,” says Henry. “They want to know ‘why are you profitable compared to the other guy?’”

The prime advantage of working with established security companies is the opportunity to buy a complete package of security equipment along with the services needed to maintain and monitor them.

Each state with a cannabis industry has drafted strict guidelines for minimum security for dispensaries. These regulations demand commercial-grade II non-residential locks for all entry ways, professional grade cameras with minimum resolution and pixel levels and a host of other products such as panic alarms.

Colorado’s security manual specifies, “All entrances and exits to the facility shall be recorded from both indoor and outdoor vantage points, and capable of clearly identifying the individual entering or exiting the facility.”

Each state with a cannabis industry has drafted strict guidelines for minimum security for dispensaries

“The goal is make sure they don’t just buy something off the shelf at Costco,” says Dan Williams, CEO of Canna Security America (CSA).

DirectView recently entered the Colorado market earlier this year by winning a trio of contracts. These deals involved the installation of a comprehensive package of security and surveillance equipment at each facility. Among the products were IP megapixel security cameras, NVRs and intrusion alarm systems. The three deals generated $140,000 in revenue, according to a company press release.

The company has also expanded beyond the strictly security field to include installation of temperature and light monitoring devices for cannabis grow houses, according to president and CEO Roger Ralston.

When Canna Security America got into the market, it was strictly a product and service provider. Founded in 2009, the operation is now a $4.2 million company.

“We put in alarm systems, cameras and door access controls,” says Williams. “Those were our primary services apart from monitoring and providing the offsite video backup.”

Last year the company formed a subsidiary to provide armed security guards and physical transport of product and cash. Named the Cloverton Group (a play on the famous Pinkerton’s security), this division has recruited ex-military personnel including veterans of private security contractors such as Blackwater.

“We’re trying to position ourselves as a one stop shop for the cannabis industry,” says Williams.

With stores holding large amounts of cash, the need for armed guards has become an obvious growth area for companies.

"Those companies that can offer a complete solution are likely to garner more business and more market share," he adds.