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4 Best Security Tips for Cannabis Dispensaries

Posted by Mark Mariotti on Jun 14, 2022

Cannabis dispensaries face unique challenges due to the constantly evolving regulations. Many factors affect their success. One of the most critical is protecting their assets. Even though the legalization of cannabis helps fight black market activities, they continue to be a major problem. The reason is that not all states have legalized cannabis, and they all have different laws.

Those running illegal businesses take advantage of cannabis dispensaries to aid their activities. They may buy up stock and transport it to areas that have not legalized marijuana at all or for non-medical use. This is why cannabis security is essential. Moreover, most regulations require cannabis dispensaries to follow strict guidelines when it comes to security.

When a cannabis dispensary fails compliance, the root cause is often due to not following security regulations according to Top 5 Medical Marijuana Dispensary Infractions. To help you avoid failing compliance, review these four best cannabis dispensary security tips. They will help reduce your risk while increasing the chances of being compliant.

1. Understand Cannabis-Related Laws

One of the first things to do when starting a cannabis dispensary is to find a lawyer to help you understand the laws that affect cannabis businesses. These laws vary based on geographical location. In North America, the U.S. and Canada have detailed requirements for cannabis dispensary security that includes video surveillance.

Rules affecting cannabis dispensaries in Canada vary by province. In America, laws fluctuate by state and municipality. For example, the municipalities of California list different requirements for security cameras. Cannabis dispensaries in El Monte must retain video footage for 45 days as well as provide the Chief of Police or a designee with remote access to the recordings. Long Beach, on the other hand, only requires keeping recordings for 30 days.

In some locales, security may not be limited to the area around the cannabis dispensary. Colorado, for instance, requires video-monitored lockboxes in vehicles delivering products. To make matters worse, the laws change often. That’s because lawmakers do not know the outcome of a law until after it goes into effect. It could cause problems or provide opportunities. Whichever the case, they revise the law.

The constantly evolving laws can be hard for the police department to track. Remember, they must know all laws, not just those affecting the marijuana business. As a result, they may opt to spend time driving by other businesses rather than yours. Their priority is to protect citizens and maintain public safety. They tend to spend more time monitoring the roads for citizens who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol than going shopping for it.

Therefore, cannabis dispensaries are on their own in protecting their business. And a lawyer who knows the laws will be invaluable.

2. Create a Cannabis Dispensary Security Plan

Before building a marijuana business security plan, conduct a security assessment and identify the risks. These will help you determine what you have in place and what you need to add. You’ll use this information in creating the cannabis security plan.

Now that you have a lawyer familiar with the federal and state laws that apply to your cannabis dispensary, create the cannabis dispensary security plan. Not only do you want to work with a lawyer who knows marijuana laws but also a security company with experience in securing marijuana-related businesses.

Here are the sections you should have in your cannabis dispensary security plan:

  • Introduction: Describe the plan, its purpose, and its objectives. Identify the roles of employees who will be responsible for creating, maintaining, and updating the plan. They will also oversee any security-related training for employees.
  • Policies and procedures: List out the steps for how employees, vendors, and customers enter and exit the dispensary. Document all processes including background checks for new employees, training and onboarding of new employees, and access control management.
  • Physical building design: Map out the property including fencing, lighting, landscaping, security cameras, parking lot, and the area around the dispensary.
  • Security measures: Specify all the security processes from people entering and storing products to remote video surveillance and managing cash.
  • Sign-offs: All employees must read the security plan and sign it to show they read it, understand it, and will follow it. If anything happens, they can’t make any excuses. Each time there’s an update to the security plan, they will need to undergo training, read it, and sign it again.

A cannabis dispensary security plan is never final. It’s a living document. The cannabis industry is always evolving along with the rules and regulations. The security plan sounds like a lot of work. However, it goes a long way in helping you be in compliance and deter crime, both internally and externally.

3. Prepare for Employee Theft

According to MJ Biz Daily, the biggest security concern comes from employees. The article reveals about 90% of the loss of products in the cannabis industry is due to employee theft. This could be attributed to the business being cash heavy. Employees would pocket a few dollars here and a few dollars there. It’s hard to prove who took the cash.

In just a two-week period, 25 marijuana businesses in Oakland have been burglarized to the tune of $5 million in damage per a Forbes article. This is why it’s critical to train employees on security and have them sign off on the security plan. The more they know about security, the better. It sounds counter-productive but it’s not when they know there are cameras watching the cash registers and products.

4. Add Cannabis Dispensary Remote Video Surveillance

Most laws require cannabis dispensaries to have remote video surveillance. Again, the requirements differ by country, province, state, and municipality. These laws actually go into detail covering things like the requirements for camera frame rate and resolution, the placement of the security cameras, and how long to retain video recordings. The higher the video resolution and the longer you need to retain footage, the more storage space you will need. So, ensure you have plenty of storage space.

Another must-have is a backup plan for power outages and other potential problems. You don’t want to take a chance that the cameras stop working when a crime occurs. A company experienced with cannabis dispensary security will include a system health check as part of its services. Consistent system checks can confirm everything is working or identify a problem to be fixed before anything happens.

The Key to Choosing the Right Security for Your Cannabis Dispensary

You can have the right technology and yet fail compliance due to a poorly implemented remote video surveillance system. Due to the nature of the cannabis regulations, most experts advise working with a cannabis security consultant to select, install, and maintain video surveillance technology. That’s why it’s very important for cannabis dispensaries to choose the right security consultant.

You will save money when you choose the right company because they will do the job correctly the first time. Ask the cannabis dispensary security vendor about an installation guarantee clause. This can help protect you in case something goes wrong or fails to comply with the laws and regulations.

“When it comes to securing your cannabis facility, compliance is key,” writes Security Info Watch in How video surveillance can keep an eye on your supply. “Not all security consultants are the same, in fact, many of these professionals lack experience in the cannabis industry which is highly regulated and varies state-by-state. It is strongly recommended to work with a consultant and/or systems integrator who has experience doing design-build work in the cannabis sector in your specific state. These professionals understand the unique requirements, pitfalls and caveats and more importantly, they are more likely to work with security product manufacturers that cater to your needs.”

The article recommends looking to technology that can manage intrusion, access control, video, and video verification all within a single resource. Any information needs to be tagged and includes a timestamp for later referencing. Video analytics should report any suspicious real-time events to the on-call monitoring operators. Stealth Monitoring can provide all of these as a part of its service.

Moreover, the company works with cannabis dispensaries in geographical areas across North America including the U.S. and Canada. We have experience in the industry and in complying with laws that apply to your cannabis dispensary.

The advantage of remote video surveillance is that it’s a proactive solution. It’s an effective deterrent that can help prevent or minimize damage. The pairing of video analytics and trained monitoring operators surveilling your property can help spot potential problems and take action.

The monitoring personnel may issue a warning on an on-site audio speaker. This warning may send intruders running away from the cannabis dispensary. If they don’t, then the next step can be to call law enforcement.

Apply these four best ways to ensure your security protects your investment, your employees, and your expensive assets. To find a qualified cannabis dispensary security provider with experience in the cannabis industry, ask for client referrals and cannabis case studies. For more information on effective cannabis dispensary security technologies solutions that comply with regulations, pick up this cannabis security guide.