I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Messenger, Partner Development &Inside Channel Manager at Milestone Systems, one of Quantum’s video surveillance Advantage Partners. We talked about the medical marijuana industry and how the legalization of marijuana is transitioning security and surveillance solutions to help tackle the challenges that grow houses, production facilities, and dispensaries face every day.
Whether you are for or against the legalization of marijuana, the reality is that the market is changing. We can choose to ignore this conversation or embrace it by becoming part of the solution for the security challenges they face. Here is a snapshot of my conversation with Paul to help answer some of the buzz that we are hearing about the medical marijuana industry.
Heidi: Tell me about the cannabis industry and why surveillance and security solution providers are seeing an uptick.
Paul: First, I would like to confirm that yes, I am seeing an uptick in the amount of businesses looking for security solutions that are growing, processing, or selling cannabis. This is happening for both medical and recreational use. As to why we are seeing this, it ultimately boils down to more and more states legalizing cannabis. The legislation around surveillance and security for grow houses, production facilities, and dispensaries require businesses to have these types of systems in place prior to operation. Individual states are mandating high-definition monitoring cameras and requirements for video frames rates, and defining recording retention requirements. What is even more interesting is that each state has its own set of requirements that they are building into legislation.
Heidi: How have you seen this industry evolve over the last few years?
Paul: We didn’t really hear much about it [the cannabis industry] until recently. When cannabis became more widely accepted for medicinal usage, we began to see an industry transformation here in the US. Sterile grow houses and production facilities were required, which then led business owners to search out other areas for market expansion. An increase in general acceptance of recreational usage then added another segment of dispensaries to join the market. This has also led to another industry and a specific set of system integrators emerged. They are up-to-date on the latest laws around this industry as well as the best security solutions to serve this market.
Heidi: What are some of the challenges you are trying to solve for grow houses?
Paul: Typically, when they first come to us they are looking for security solutions. Once they understand the capabilities of surveillance video and analytics, clients also become interested in using the video data collected for business intelligence beyond security. With their video footage, companies are able to monitor the health of plants, internal thefts, shrink (loss) during the cutting process, and to track revenue better, since this is primarily a cash-based industry.
Heidi: Are the challenges different between grow houses, production facilities, and dispensaries?
Paul: I see similar challenges. However, one that all organizations in this industry focus around is a very cash-rich environment. The fact that marijuana is illegal under US federal law makes for an interesting dynamic. Most of the business nationwide is cash based, which adds a complexity when making and documenting transactions. The use of banks is prohibited as federal law does not allow banking transactions to occur where federal law is not followed.
Heidi: What makes this industry different than those you have previously sold into?
Paul: This entire industry is unchartered territory with a social, political, and legal stigma attached to it. Change is coming slowly, but it will take time for greater acceptance. Even as large as it is, national suppliers, logistic companies, and banks avoid working with businesses associated with this industry. Not to mention there are some major concerns with the current administration and its intentions on how to react with the number of states coming online to legalize cannabis in one way or another.
As Paul and I talked more about the “budding” cannabis industry. we discussed the “high” expectations that the states have either implemented or are planning to implement with respect to video surveillance systems. More than half of the states in the US have already legalized marijuana in one form or another, and many others have legislation in the “pipeline” ready to be executed. We agreed that Milestone and Quantum are becoming part of the solution. Together, we can help educate the cannabis industry to solve the surveillance and security challenges they face every day.
Paul Messenger, a Milestone Systems employee of six years, is manager of Partner Development & Inside Channel Management (ICM). After two years with Partner Service & Sales Support, he took on the first ICM position at Milestone Systems in 2012 and has been instrumental in making the role a vital part of the sales organization. In 2016, Paul took on the leadership of the ICM team, which focuses on developing Milestone reseller partners to increase their sales across the company’s full product line.