Security Camera System Regulations for Cannabis Grow Ops, Marijuana Dispensaries, and Pot Farms

We have a separate guide for each state's rules and regulations, but since these laws are pretty similar, let's start with a general overview of these types of regulations and what you are typically going to deal with:

Understanding the Security Camera Video Quality Regulations for Cannabis Farms and Dispensaries

Almost every state that has passed some form of marijuana legalization, includes four basic types of regulations: video quality, camera placement, footage retention, and law enforcement access.

Here's an example of Video Quality regulations:

(3) Surveillance system. At a minimum, a complete video surveillance with minimum camera resolution of 640x470 pixel...

(b) Camera placement shall allow for the clear and certain identification of any individual on the licensed premises....

(d) All perimeter fencing and gates enclosing an outdoor grow operation must have full video surveillance capable of clearly identifying any activities occurring within twenty feet of the exterior of the perimeter...

Complying with the Video Quality Regulations

As you will see with most states. Video Quality regulations are pretty confusingly written and in some cases don't make much sense. This makes complying with them kind of a judgment call. About one-third of states use this 640x470 number and it really makes no sense. Here are the issues:

Issue Number 1: 640x470 is not a known recording resolution in surveillance.

Most states repeat this number and quite frankly, we don't know where they got it other than from other legislation. D1 DVRs (sold in the ‘80s and ‘90s) shoot in 720 x 480 (345,600 total pixels), which is slightly better than the regulation. However...

With someone 20 feet away, with D1 resolution, your footage would look like this:

Issue Number 2: You need to identify someone at 20 feet.

Now, you aren't going to be able to do that with the camera system that shoots in 640x470 (if that existed). You can only do that with HD cameras.

1080p is 1920x1080. (2,073,600 total pixels)

With someone 20 feet away, with 1080P resolution, your footage would look like this:

Our analysis: Choose a system that shoots in 1080P or above to make sure you comply with the regulation and because you might as well protect your property.

One of the really important things to keep in mind is that you don't just need to comply with the law, you also need to protect yourself. Most camera systems are recording in 1080P, 4MP (2x1080P), or 4K these days, because the lower resolution cameras never resulted in the footage you could use. You often have a lot of inventory and cash on hand, even if your state requirements hadn't mandated HD equipment, you should probably invest in it.

Here's an example of Camera Placement regulations:

(c) All entrances and exits to the facility shall be recorded...

(d) Any gate or other entry point that is part of the enclosure for an outdoor growing operation must have fixed camera coverage capable of identifying activity occurring within a minimum of twenty feet of the exterior....

(e) Areas where marijuana is grown, cured, or manufactured including destroying waste, shall have a camera placement...

Complying with the Camera Placement regulations

The easiest way to do this is to send us your floorplan and a description of what activities go on in each area, and we'll happily make sure that you meet your requirements.

cannabis dispensary security camera floorplan

Submit a Floorplan to get Professional Assistance

Feel free to submit a floorplan to get help. If you live in Washington, this floorplan is actually required, as you will need one that you can make available to the state, should they request it. This service is free and will help you determine what you need as well.

We'll work with you to develop a floorplan map and go over the regulations with you.

Here's an example of Video Retention regulations:

(g) All camera recordings must be continuously recorded twenty-four hours a day. All surveillance recordings must be kept for a minimum of forty-five days on the licensee's recording device...

Complying with the Video Retention regulations

The storage requirements are where this really gets nasty. For this example state, you're required to store forty-five days of footage. That's about the middle of the pack. Some states require less, some states want ninety days. What does that mean for hard drive space required?

Well, that's actually really complicated. Video takes different amounts of space when filming things that vary a lot. For example, a video of the sky (something that doesn't change much) won't take up as much space as a video of a busy intersection (something that changes a lot). This is because when a video does not change from frame “a” to frame “b,” it doesn't need to record as much information. It basically just needs to state "same as the first frame." Below are averages on what your hard drive space would need to be. However, if you get more traffic it can take more space, and if you get less traffic it will take less space. The forty-five day regulation places a burden on you, and we suggest monitoring it when you install it to see if these assumptions are correct.

Number of Cameras






1080p Resolution (1920 x 1080)

25TB (H.264) 38TB (H.264) 50TB (H.264) 74TB (H.264) 100TB (H.264)

4MP Resolution (2560 x 1440)

32.5TB (H.264) 50TB (H.264) 65TB (H.264) 96TB (H.264) 130TB (H.264)

4K Resolution (3840 x 2160)

50TB (H.264) 74TB (H.264) 100TB (H.264) 148TB (H.264) 200TB (H.264)

These are our largest NVRs

  1. The Imperial 128 Channel 4K NVR - IMP128

    The Imperial 128 Channel 4K NVR - IMP128

    In stock


    128 1080P cameras at 30 FPS
    128 4MP cameras at 25 FPS
    100 4K cameras at 20 FPS

    512 Mbps incoming bitrate; 4 Mbps per channel

    H.265 encoding


    VCA: Motion Detection, Line Crossing, Face Detection, Intrusion Detection, People Counting, Vandalism Detection
    Video Content Analytics (VCA) Search
    VCA Event based Email Alerts
    Remote Footage Download
    1 Click Firmware Update
    Hot Spare Compatible


    4 x 4K, 16 x 1080p, 36 x 720p, 64 x D1

    Smartphone Apps
    Tablet Apps
    Windows Apps
    Mac Viewing Apps
    Chrome, Firefox, Edge Plugins (Windows)


    16 hard drive bays; supports RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60
    Rack Mount Ears Included - Tray/Slide Required
    4 RJ-45 10M/100M/1000M adaptive Ethernet Interface
    2 1000M SFP Ethernet Interface
    Standard 3-Prong Wall Plug
    VGA Monitor Out
    4K HDMI Out for TVs/Monitors
    Alarm Inputs and Outputs
    Footage Download via USB
    Hot Swap Hard Drives

The Imperial 128 channel NVR can have 128 Total TB of internal storage. The 64 channel can have a total of 64 TB of storage. So, very often you have to end up upgrading to a larger capacity unit to keep up with your storage requirements even if you don't need that many cameras.

With our cameras, you can also record in H.265 which cuts these storage requirements in half. Because H.265 is relatively new, some other companies don't have it.

So, How Do You Meet Your Storage Requirements? The Straight Way

Since even our largest units can pose some real challenges for this requirement, we also have some external storage options that allow you to extend how much hard drive space you can give your cameras to record:

1. NAS Backup


Our NVRs have the ability to store to a NAS as either a backup or extension of your internal drives.

A NAS, or Network Attached Storage, is an easy way to either increase the storage space available to your recorder or have a redundant, off recorder storage device allowing you to have two copies of recorded footage.

You set both the internal and NAS hard drives into groups and assign the cameras to groups. This way you can set some cameras to record longer than others.

2. eSata

esata drive array

Our Imperial 32, 64, and 128 NVRs have an eSata connection on the back which can function as either a backup or extension of your internal drives.

That's still a lot of data to store!

So, How Do You Meet Your Storage Requirements? The Loophole

Normally cameras take thirty pictures per second (FPS), but many state regulations only require 10 FPS per camera or they don't mention FPS at all.

If instead of doing 30 FPS per camera, you do 15FPS, you would be able to cut your storage requirements in half.

If instead of doing 30 FPS per camera, you do 10FPS, you would be able to cut your storage requirements to a third.

Here's an example of Law Enforcement Access Regulations:

(g)... All videos are subject to inspection by any liquor control board employee or law enforcement officer, and must be copied and provided to the board or law enforcement officer upon request.

Complying with the Law Enforcement Access Regulations

There are usually two different versions of these types of rules: either remote login credentials or the ability to access your recorder and download footage, on-demand. Sometimes these laws also require you to have a printer or monitor on location and internet access.

All our NVRs (and most of the other ones on the market) have remote access and footage download.

Now that you know the type of rules you will be facing, let's look at the specific regulations for each state*:

*We're not lawyers and laws do change. We try our best to keep this page updated with changes to the law, but you should always do your own research or hire your own lawyer to guarantee compliance with the law.

*We're not lawyers and laws do change. We try our best to keep this page updated with changes to the law, but you should always do your own research or hire your own lawyer to guarantee compliance with the law.