PITTSBURGH – When medical marijuana company Cresco Yeltrah became the first in Pennsylvania to receive state approval to begin growing cannabis last October, the security and surveillance system designed and installed at their facility by Dagostino Electronic Services was touted as a big reason why.
The facility in Brookville, Jefferson County, had to meet strict guidelines set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and experienced DES personnel worked closely with Cresco Yeltrah to make sure security camera and access control requirements were met along the way.
Since then, DES designed and installed the security at Cresco Yeltrah’s first dispensary in Butler. Much like the processing facility, the dispensary passed the rigid state inspection with ease and on Thursday, became the first in the state to open to patients anxiously awaiting relief.
It was DES, says Trent Hartley, one of Cresco Yeltrah’s co-founders, that set the security standard for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program.
“In all honestly, DES set the standard for this industry in the state,” he said. “The state was thoroughly impressed with what DES had done security-wise and that standard was carried through to all of their other inspections.”
Hartley continued, “I can tell you that a lot of people failed on their initial walk through with the Department of Health because they did not have security [like] DES installed for us in Brookville.”
The processing facility’s entire perimeter is fenced with an electronic gate.
High-definition interior and exterior cameras, strategically installed to create a 20 percent overlap, monitor every square inch of the property.
“There are absolutely no blind spots in any part of the inside of the building or blind spots on the outside of the building,” Hartley said.
Doors throughout the facility are equipped with key card control panels, restricting access to certain parts of the building. Other highly restricted areas are secured with biometrics.
“The key card access is probably one of the most important aspects when it comes to security,” Hartley explained. “It’s very important that we block certain employees off [from restricted areas].”
The entire system is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Genetec’s unified security platform Genetec Security Center.
An around-the-clock on-site security guard keeps a watchful eye on all cameras and doors. The system is programmed to alert the guard any time someone opens or attempts to open a door. When there’s an intrusion, an image from the camera associated with that door appears on screen as well as a map.
“It’s easier to get into the Pentagon than our facility,” Hartley said.
Genetec Security Center also allows secure remote access for state and local authorities and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
At Cresco Yeltrah’s Butler dispensary, the security isn’t as apparent but is very much in place.
“We don’t want them to feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of security looming over them but there actually is, they just don’t see it,” explained DES Security Sales Engineer Mark Gillenberger, who designed the systems for both Brookville and Butler.
A security guard is stationed at the front door during business hours. Patients must present their state-issued medical marijuana ID card for access to the showroom. From there, patients wait until they are directed into the consultation area.
The actual medical marijuana is kept in a vault in the back of the building. Access to the vault is controlled by biometrics, i.e. the employee’s fingerprint.
At both facilities, video footage must be stored for four years. To keep costs down and meet state regulations, DES designed a solution that’s partially cloud-based.
A mixture of silent and audible alarms, motion sensors, glass break detectors and wireless panic buttons round out the security measures.
When evaluating security system integrators, a process Hartley described as “intense,” it was DES’ depth of knowledge and high-quality equipment that stood out.
“After going through the process in Brookville and seeing the quality of the cameras and the quality of the equipment installed, to look at the other quotes you could tell that nothing was apples to apples,” Hartley explained.
“A lot of people have asked us ‘Who does your security?’ and I have recommended DES,” he continued, adding, “I enjoy the comradery and the people who work for DES. They’re great people.”
From the beginning, it was Creso Yeltrah’s intent to get medical marijuana to patients as quickly as possible.
“Our intention from day one was to be the first to market with the grow [and] first to market with the dispensaries,” Hartley said, adding, “And DES obviously helped us get there.”
About Cresco Yeltrah
Cresco Yeltrah is one of five medical marijuana companies in the state of Pennsylvania vertically licensed to operate a processing facility and dispensaries.
They’re growing 30 different strains of medical cannabis at their Brookville facility and will supply it, in the form of lotions, pills, tinctures and oils, to dispensaries across the state.
Hartley’s experience with medical marijuana is personal. His three children suffer from fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and for the last several years he’s used CBD or cannabidiol, a cannabis compound with anti-inflammatory properties, to treat them.
“It’s pretty much the best anti-inflammatory known to man,” Hartley said of CBD. Unable to find a product pure enough to meet his standards, he started his own CBD company in Kentucky five years ago and is planning to expand to South Carolina in the coming months.
In Pennsylvania, Hartley said initially they were only going to apply for a permit to open a grow facility but after being introduced to and partnering with Chicago-based Cresco Labs decided to apply for both.
Cresco Labs also brings a lot of experience to the table, owning three processing facilities in Illinois and holding licenses in Ohio and Puerto Rico.
Hartley says the response to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has been outstanding. He estimates more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians will have medical marijuana cards by mid-February with more than 600 doctors signed up for the program.
In order to receive medical marijuana, patients must have one of the following qualifying medical conditions:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intractable Seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
- Sickle Cell Anemia
Cresco Yeltrah has a wealth of resources for participants of the program on its website, stateofrelief.com, including frequently asked questions about their services.