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

Resolution, Placement, Retention, and Remote Viewing Requirements

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. This guide covers those main aspects of all state regulations.

We have a separate guide for each state's rules and regulations at the bottom of this page, 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

Resolution refers to the total pixels in an image. Regulators want to make sure that they can clearly see people and vehicles in video, so they usually require minimum standards to video quality.

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.

Camera Locations

Understanding the Security Camera Placement and Mounting Location Regulations for Cannabis Farms and Dispensaries

Regulators want to make sure that you can see activity in important locations, so they usually require cameras be placed in those areas.

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. An example of our approach can been seen in the Layered Security Section on our Cannabis Grow Industry Page.

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...


Understanding the Footage Storage Regulations for Cannabis Farms and Dispensaries

Surveillance devices record video in a first in first out method. As new recordings are made they replace older ones. Regulators want to make sure that footage can be reviewed if there's an incident and that the footage hasn't been deleted or overwritten by newer footage.

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)

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 Forward 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 Advanced Way

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.

Remote Access

Understanding the Law Enforcement Remote Access Regulations for Cannabis Farms and Dispensaries

Regulators want a way for law enforcement to be able to view your live feeds and recorded footage.

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.

State Level Regulations

A List of State or Municipality Regulations for for Cannabis Farms and Dispensaries Security Technology

Now that you know the type of rules you will be facing and generally how we solve for this requirements, let's look at the specific regulations for each state*

Washington Initiative I-502

Oregon OLCC

Colorado Medical Marijuana Code 6-14-10

Lansing, Michigan Municipal Ordinance §1300.05

Nevada LCB File No. R148-15

New York Chapter XIII, Part 1004

Delaware: 4470 State of Delaware Medical Marijuana Code


Massachusetts: Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, "An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana"

Arizona: R9-17-318. Security

Alaska 3 AAC 306: Security

Rhode Island Gen. Laws § 21-28.6-16(b)(4)

Arkansas ABC MM.


Florida 381.986 Medical use of marijuana.

Vermont 18 V.S.A. Chapter 86 Subchapter 2: Marijuana for Medical Symptom Use by Persons with Severe Illness.

*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.