The State of Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements in CA, OR, WA, AK and Canada

Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

Ever Changing Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

The cannabis industry is experiencing explosive growth, despite marijuana being illegal under U.S. federal law. Medical marijuana is often used to relieve pain caused from headaches and diseases like cancer, as well as to treat long-term conditions like glaucoma. Cultivation, promotion, and sales of marijuana for medical use are legal in 29 states in the United States and the District of Columbia, and eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of cannabis products. Recent legislation paved the way for full legalization of both medical and recreational use across all of Canada.

Despite the recent reversal of federal enforcement policies, nearly all industry experts expect that legal marijuana is here to stay and will continue to be legalized. The massive tax windfalls (expected to be over $6.7B in 2018 alone) combined with more effective public control of a previously uncontrolled process are too enticing to attempt to put back in the bottle.

Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements


Disgraced Attorney General John Mitchell of the Nixon administration placed marijuana as a Schedule I drug (naming it equal to Heroin, LSD and Ecstasy) in 1972 as part of the ranking or “scheduling” of all drugs under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana’s classification under the Controlled Substances Act has become increasingly out of step with scientific research, public opinion, medical use and state law. Citing marijuana’s potentially significant therapeutic potential for a number of serious ailments, including chronic pain and epilepsy, organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have called on the DEA to change the drug’s scheduling status to Schedule III which would decriminalize it federally.

It is unknown at this time how the states rights versus federal regulations battle will resolve in the case of marijuana. However the weight of scientific evidence, public pressure and now the shear economic value to states seems likely to force the DEA to move marijuana to schedule III, thereby making it fully legal.


Despite the disconnect with federal regulations, state regulations require all cannabis operations and dispensaries to implement and maintain effective video surveillance systems.

Forecasts show sales of $6 billion to $7 billion in 2018 and, when combined with sales of complementary products, may have a total economic impact of over $21 billion. By 2020, sales are projected to reach as high as $11 billion and have a total economic impact of over $40 billion. As more states pass legislation, sales for recreational use are expected to outpace sales for medical use over time.

Video surveillance is helping cannabis facility operators protect their retail stores, merchandise, warehouses, and growing operations. But it is not a luxury—it is required by state law.

Growth in Video Surveillance Footage

Every state has specific mandates for video surveillance systems. The state of California, for example, requires a minimum camera resolution of 1280 x 720 (720p) pixels and no less than 15 frames per second. Cameras and storage must be Internet Protocol (IP) compatible. And cameras must be placed at all entrances and exits, and record from both indoor and outdoor vantage points 24 hours a day with no interruptions regardless of lighting or conditions. In addition, fencing and gates surrounding growing operations must be monitored at least 20 feet beyond the perimeter.

Although today’s advanced camera technology—with multi-sensor, high-resolution quality— allows owners to provide better security and watch over their operations remotely, it creates a storage challenge. The California mandate required cameras generate approximately 13 GB of data per day, and most states require surveillance cameras to record continuously (24/7 year-round) wherever cannabis is present.

Retention time is also a concern. Regulations governing the cannabis industry in the state of California require video footage to be kept for a minimum of 90 days. There are other states that require footage to be kept for as long as a year. Insurance and legal coverage may require your operation to meet industry standard 1 year retention requirements for all video surveillance. Overcoming these challenges requires a flexible storage solution capable of delivering the capacity needed in a cost-effective way.

The cannabis industry is poised for growth. As of 2017, the estimated number of cannabis-related businesses in the United States totaled 7,800 to 11,000. When added to the number of ancillary services, technology, and product companies, the industry total was between 15,000 and 23,500. New business owners from outside states are joining the ranks. This increase is driving a trend toward intelligent enterprise surveillance systems that provide the capacity, scalability, and remote monitoring capability needed to operate large growing and production facilities. Getting the most from these systems requires a robust storage solution that scales as you grow.

Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

State by State Video Surveillance Requirements Summary

As the Cannabis industry goes from startup to established, new stricter requirements and regulations will continuously roll out. As of today the below requirements are accurate and compiled from each states statutes and laws. Expect them to be updated and amended as they encounter new scenarios and situations. Likely legal actions will directly impact both minimum requirements and best practices standards. Err towards best practices and assume the requirements will go up rather than lessen.

It is our expectation that the myriad and non-conforming laws on retention time for video will standardize to 1 year. That matches most law enforcement, corrections and manufacturing requirements. So even if your state is currently only mandating 45-90 days now, assume that they will start requiring 1 year retention times for every video. And just attempting to retain the video wont cut it, authorities are starting to roll out fines to organizations that can’t actually retrieve archived video. Not only should you expect to be required to archive 100% of all video footage for at least 1 year, smart organizations will also ensure that every frame of every video is protected and access is guaranteed with no downtime and no lost frames or data corruption.

A useful resource for overall Cannabis regulations and status for every state. (focused on end user impacts)


For the Western states and Canada more detailed information is outlined below:


California Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements:

§40205. Video Surveillance

  • 24 hour continuous- Motion detection is not allowed
  • min 15 fps
  • min 720p
  • min 90 days

with only 100 cameras at minimum that is 350TBs useable storage


Oregon Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements:


Video Recording Requirements for Licensed Facilities

  • 24 hour continuous- Motion detection is not allowed
  • min 10 fps
  • min 720p
  • min 90 days
  • Must be backed up to a location not in the surveillance room

with only 100 cameras at minimum that is 230TBs useable storage


Washington Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

WAC 314-55-083

What are the security requirements for a marijuana licensee?

  • 24 hour continuous- Motion detection is not allowed
  • min 10 fps
  • min VGA 640×470
  • min 45 days

with only 100 cameras at minimum that is 40TBs useable storage


Alaska Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

3 AAC 306.720. Video surveillance

  • 24 hour continuous
  • min 10 fps
  • min 720p
  • min 40 days

with only 100 cameras at minimum that is 36TBs useable storage


Canada Cannabis Video Surveillance Requirements

Guidance Document – Building and Production Security Requirements for Marihuana for Medical Purposes

  • 24 hour continuous- Motion detection is not allowed
  • min 15 fps
  • min 720p
  • min 2 years

with only 100 cameras at minimum that is 1,500TBs useable storage

Cannabis Video Surveillance RequirementsThe Growing Cannabis Industry Requires Growing Video Surveillance

By 2020 video surveillance is expected to generate over 859 Petabytes of new video every day. A 1080P HD resolution camera in a typical cannabis setting generates up to 10Gb of video every day. Video surveillance technology is leaping forward with real-time frame rates (20-30FPS), HD resolutions, PTZ and 360 degree IP cameras, motion detection, and AI based machine learning among many other intriguing technologies.

With the number of cameras increasing rapidly and mandated retention times stretching into years these modest baseline requirements can quickly consume Petabytes of storage. It’s not a question of if your storage and data protection needs will increase, it’s only will they grow 2x, 4x or 10x over the next 5-10 years?

This technological tidal wave is multiplied by increasing regulatory requirements impacting surveillance coverage, retention times, video analysis and even legal challenges. Some of these requirements and challenges are unique to cannabis and some are universal, but all of them are driving the need for smart storage systems that deliver scale as you grow technology and open standards solutions.

Arxys has been crafting data storage solutions for customers for over 25 years and has the experience and technology to ensure your cannabis operation is in compliance with video recording and protection requirements.

Keep up to date on Cannabis Surveillance Requirements




Luckily, the centrist think tank “Third Way” released a collection of charts showing the history of marijuana legalization in the United States. They also included an analysis of how all those laws came into existence and how future legalization efforts can learn from the past. But for now, we’ll just enjoy these charts.