Understanding Cannabis in California Terms & Requirements

Marijuana, cannabis and pot may all be synonymous, but the way it’s handled and sold is not so simple. In fact, the cannabis industry is one that is heavily divided and regulated. As such, there are specific security requirements for marijuana businesses in Los Angeles, California and in a handful of states where it now legal for recreational use. These regulations define what cannabis businesses do and how they handle their inventory. AEGIS wants to help you understand what type of business you have (or want to have) and how you can meet security requirements for cannabis regulatory agencies.

Let’s start with the types of businesses that are operable within the cannabis industry in California.


Perhaps the largest category of the marijuana business types, cultivation licenses are granted to entities looking to grow and process the plant. These businesses are broken down into four categories based on the size of the growth and the type of light used. Ultimately, the Department of Food and Agriculture has oversight of cultivation businesses along with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city governments like in Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, and Long Beach.

For help navigating the requirements, request a chat with an expert at AEGIS.


Licenses under the manufacturing domain are managed by the Department of Public Health along with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city governments like in Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, and Long Beach. These are facilities that take marijuana plants and turn them into the strains of pot used by consumers.


Licenses granted for testing facilities are also managed by the Department of Public Health along with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city governments like in Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, and Long Beach and are held responsible for testing cannabis for consumption for strains of chemicals, including THC, cannabinoids, chemical and biological impurities and contaminants.


Probably the best known entities are marijuana dispensaries. These are the physical storefronts you see where people are able to purchase pot. Such locations include storage and points of sale that play largely into mandated and best-used security practices.

For help navigating the requirements, request a chat with an expert at AEGIS.


Another large entity within the cannabis industry is distribution licensees. Cultivation and manufacturing groups are mandated to send their product through this type of business. Distribution licensees are required to inspect the product for quality assurance and must send product to testing facilities.


The only group of licensees permitted to move cannabis products between other marijuana businesses are those who hold transportation licenses. Distribution businesses likely include transportation likening as well.

While a single business owner may have multiple licenses within the cannabis industry, there are state and local regulations as to which licenses may overlap under a single entity. For more legal information, check out ca.gov.

In order for all facilities to be compliant with California law, there are specific requirements that must be met. All businesses dealing with marijuana are subject to these guidelines.

Permitted individuals

In order to control who is allowed on the property and when, applicants and license holders must outline and implement procedure for how the premises can be accessed. Descriptions of restricted areas, and to whom they are restricted, and their accessibility must be detailed. Regulation of this access control must also be evidenced in the operation of the facility.

Video surveillance

This is a big one for all marijuana businesses. All licensed premises are required to have a digital video surveillance system with clear resolution (1280×720 pixels) that has transmission control protocol that is accessible through the internet at all times. This equipment needs to be on 24/7 and checked regularly to ensure proper operation. Additionally, all cameras must be permanently mounted (not movable) in a fixed location that can be noted on a site plan. Cameras should be pointed at all points of entry/exit and able to record within 20 feet of those access points. Lastly, dependent upon the type of facility and license association, cameras should monitor the following areas on a site:

  • Spaces where cannabis products are weighed, packed, stored, loaded/unloaded for transportation, prepared or moved within the premises
  • Restricted access areas
  • Security rooms and rooms in which surveillance system storage or recordings are kept
  • Entrances and exits to the premises from both inside and outside the access points

For help navigating the requirements, request a chat with an expert at AEGIS.

Security systems and personnel

All facilities will be required to have a three-fold security system. As discussed above, surveillance cameras are required to monitor the premises. Additionally, an alarm system must be utilized to ensure only permitted individuals are able to access the premises and facilities must hire security personnel who meet specific standards. Regarding the alarm system, licensees are required to use an alarm system that can be reacted to immediately. This means using a licensed alarm monitoring company or an audible alarm system that would alert personnel on the premises of a trespasser. Regarding security personnel, officers must be compliant with the State of California and City of Los Angeles and maintain an active American Red Cross First Aid card.


The premises must be secured with commercial-grade, non-residential door locks at all points of entry and exit. It is recommended that alarmed lock systems be considered to ensure facility security and restricted access.

Certain license types are subject to more specific security regulations.

Retail/dispensary locations

For video surveillance requirements, not only do all points of entry and exit need to be recorded, but points of sale must also be recorded. The placement of these cameras must allow for the clear recording of the facial features of all persons purchasing and selling cannabis products. Additionally, it is a requirement that these locations hire security personnel to be present during business hours at the least.

For help navigating the requirements, request a chat with an expert at AEGIS.

Micro-business licensees

Marijuana micro-businesses are small companies that blend cultivating and retail operations. Many of these mom-and-pop shops are places that are being grandfathered into the new license regulations; however, they will be subject to more stringent security regulations. To apply for such a license, candidates are required to include a “detailed description of the applicant’s operating procedures required by this section for each cannabis activity the applicant intends to engage in” (see the full text here). Additionally, they are required to contract security personnel who can provide security services for a licensed retail premises. These requirements are in addition to those set forth above regarding video surveillance, locks and alarm systems.

Sorting out the type of business you want to have and the specific security needs you will need can be a daunting task. Let AEGIS Security & Investigations help you. We specialize in marijuana industry consultation, assessment and physical security. Our team works with each client individually for the variety of services needed in the cannabis industry, taking you from start to finish on an annual basis.

AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people tracing, and background investigation. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit www.aegis.com.