biometric identification

How Cannabis Companies Can Utilize Biometric Identification

The modern cannabis space is marked by an ebb and flow of business opportunities within specific market locales; opportunities that arise out of market demand and operational requirements. This notion informs technological innovations in security, including the advent of biometric identification. As the industry continues to mature, business owners in cultivation, processing, and retail environments are entertaining the use of this technology once reserved for such applications as national security.

According to SearchSecurity, biometric identification is defined as any form of biological trait that uniquely identifies a person. For example, fingerprints are the original form of biometric verification, used to identify people in law enforcement and security applications. As biometric identification technology has advanced, it has started to utilize other genetic identifiers, such as retina shapes, iris profiles, DNA sequencing, hand geometry, and voice waves.

Thus far, biometric verification technology has seen innovations and applications in the private sector of the cannabis space. For starters, cannabis tech company American Green has developed a biometric marijuana vending machine. The idea behind American Green’s “ZaZZZ” vending machine is to use biometric technology to verify the age and legal status of a consumer in an unmanned retail exchange.

Due to obvious legal issues with cannabis sales and compliance, the ZaZZZ vending machine is still in its development phase. In a more operational application, safe manufacturers such as Brown Safe have created biometric locking mechanisms on their safes. These safes utilize biometric screening to keep cash and inventory secure from all but a few key employees at the business in question. Brown Safe is actively engaging the cannabis market with this technology.

While these sorts of applications of biometric technology are doubtlessly both innovative and exciting, they are not necessarily applicable across the cannabis industry. This is largely because, in each legal cannabis market in the United States, minimum security standards are set forth in accordance with state mandated compliance programs.

Looking to biometric identification technology, its most practical application is the within internal controls of a business, essentially regulating which employees, vendors, and visitors can access sensitive portions of the operation. To this end, states like Colorado have preordained badging systems that regulate the flow and access of people to different parts of a business. As such, cannabis businesses in Colorado must abide by this badge system to operate legally – stifling the need for biometric verification with internal controls. Currently, no state-mandated compliance programs require the use of biometric verification in their minimum-security standards.

For cannabis business owners and managers, the use of biometric identification boils down to preference rather than necessity. The technology is attractive on a couple of levels. For starters, retail operations like dispensaries generally have large sums of cash on hand, as well as an inventory of flowers and concentrates that can demand a healthy sum on the black market.

Therefore, cannabis business owners may choose to implement biometric identification protocols for internal controls as a proactive measure against criminal activity. This notion is especially attractive concerning employees and vendors, who could potentially circumvent a badging system with a simple exchange of IDs. For companies like Brown Safe, the offering of biometrically verified storage for assets like cash is a great option for those businesses interested in an extra level of security.

For cannabis business owners, security protocol boils down to local compliance standards as well as personal preference in securing their physical assets. Looking to potential applications of this technology in the cannabis space, cultivation, processing, and retail businesses must weigh their security infrastructure between these two criteria. However, in the race to legalization, more businesses may continue to adopt biometric identification technology in order to stay ahead of compliance standards.


  • Kent Gruetzmacher M.F.A. is a Colorado-based freelance writer and the Director of Business Development at Mac & Fulton Talent Partners (, a recruiting firm dedicated to the indoor gardening and cannabis space. He is interested in utilizing his M.A. in the Humanities to critically explore the many cultural and business facets of this youthful, emergent industry by way of his entrepreneurial projects.

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