9 Things You Need to Do for Cannabis Security

Posted by Mark Mariotti on November 13, 2019

Thanks to the tricky and ever-changing regulations, running a cannabis business has unique challenges. The success of your business relies on many factors. The first of which you have already established: location. Or if you are in the process of opening a cannabis dispensary, then start with a search for an ideal location.

Those who have a grow or manufacturing facility don't have to rely on location as much. However, you do want a site that is easily accessible for incoming and outgoing deliveries. Location is the easiest part of the equation.

The most challenging aspect of managing a cannabis business is protecting your assets. While the legalization of cannabis is supposed to help reduce black market activities, it remains a big problem. People involved in illegal activities may look to legal businesses to fill up their inventory. That's why cannabis security is critical. Besides, it's the law. Detailed regulations outline cannabis security requirements that businesses must follow.

When you address these nine things for cannabis security, it will help increase your chances of compliance and secure your inventory.

1. Document Cannabis Security Risks

Before diving into cannabis security, doing a security assessment and identifying the risks are invaluable in determining what you have in place and what needs adding. The information you gather from this will contribute to the creation of a cannabis security plan.

While conducting the assessment, draw the property's layout. The map should include any security features such as lighting, cameras, and landscaping. Show where employees, visitors, and vendors enter and exit the property. Note every possibility of who may come to your business including the mail carrier and package delivery.

Making this list ensures you have a security process for them. You want it to be easy for them to come to your business but without making your business vulnerable to theft, loitering, and other problems.

Although cannabis businesses have strict regulations to follow, it's worth prioritizing the security solutions. Of course, anything required by law goes first. You may have security solutions that don't need executing right away.

2. Understand That Employees Are a Threat to Cannabis Security

Before discussing cannabis security, it's important to understand the biggest threat to cannabis businesses does not come from outsiders. The Cannabis Business Times reports the real threat to a cannabis business is its own employees. They know the business's security weaknesses and how it works.

To counter this, the first thing to do is to vet every employee with a background check. It's the standard operating procedure for many companies. No one should view this as a sign of distrust.

The second thing is to be transparent about all security matters. Yes, even with employees. When they know what the business is doing from a security standpoint, it discourages criminal behavior. It should be mandatory for all new employees to undergo training and that includes processes and procedures for security and everything else. Hold refresher training to prevent them from becoming lax with security and processes.

Another possibility for reducing internal threats is to set up rotating shifts. It can make it harder for coworkers to collaborate and plan something.

3. Create a Cannabis Security Plan

Step 1 in creating a cannabis security plan is to review federal and state laws and regulations that apply to your cannabis business. These become your bible during the creation of your security plan. The laws can be challenging to understand and interpret. You may want to consider working with a security consultant that specializes in cannabis laws.

A standard security plan contains the following sections:

  • Introduction: Overview of the plan, its purpose, and objectives. Identify the roles of employees responsible for maintaining and updating the plan.
  • Policies and procedures: Describe the steps for how people enter and exit the business. Document all the processes including background checks, new employee onboarding, and access management.
  • Physical building design: This is a map that shows the landscaping, lighting, fencing, cameras, parking lot, and the property surrounding the business.
  • Security measures: Document all the cannabis security processes from customer entry and product storage to live video surveillance and cash management.
  • Signoffs: All employees must read the security plan and sign it to indicate they read it and will follow it. That way if anything happens, they cannot claim "I didn't know that." Every time there's an update to the document, they will need to re-read it and sign it again.

A security plan is a living document, meaning that it's never final. You'll finalize a draft, but it will continue undergoing revisions. The cannabis industry is always changing and so are the rules and regulations. As you get the hang of doing things, you and your employees will find faster and more efficient ways of operating.

The security plan sounds like a lot of work, but it pays off in many ways. It'll help with compliance and crime deterrent. A good option is to work with a cannabis security specialist who has helped other businesses. They can save you a lot of time and headaches.

4. Use a Cannabis Inventory Management System

Your inventory is your most prized asset. And it justifies the cost of investing in an inventory management system. Review your inventory several times a day especially between shift changes.

If possible, limit how much inventory you keep onsite and accessible. You may want to explore adding an access control system. This allows you to control who has access to specific areas and inventory. Also, keep the least amount of cash and inventory on property. It may not be possible depending on your business.

5. Review Landscape Design

Most businesses — whether a cannabis grower, manufacturer, or dispensary — tend to add landscaping to brighten up the property. The key is to ensure the landscape design has zero negative impact on cannabis security. Poorly designed and maintained landscaping can create hiding spots for people with bad intentions.

In reviewing the property and design, check for blind spots. If someone walks from the parking lot to the building, does it give a suspect the opportunity to surprise them?

6. Install Proper Lighting

Another factor that can affect the surprise element in perimeter security is lighting. Bright lighting is not always better. You want the right lighting. That means using the right type of bulb and placing lights in the right locations. Too far apart and you may end up with blind spots. Too close together and you may spend more than you need on lighting.

It's one of the cheapest and easiest cannabis security options, but many businesses do it wrong. A security consultant can advise you on the best options for your property. If you have multiple locations, it's unlikely what works for one property will work for the other. You must factor in the property layout, neighborhood, and other things. It will be improbably everything is identical between the two locations.

7. Display Business Name and Address

You want customers, vendors, and parcel delivery to find your business as easily as possible. If you're a grower or a manufacturer who does not have customers, you still want signage to identify your business and address because of delivery, a critical component. You don't want delivery trucks getting lost. Besides, if someone calls emergency personnel about your property, you want them to find you easily.

8. Post Security Signs

Another simple way to increase security is to post signs saying the area is under surveillance. It can deter some criminals. The more layers of security you have, the fewer the chances someone will try something. It's important to back up those signs with visible cameras. If someone does not see cameras, they may assume they're dummy signs and move forward with their plans.

9. Implement Video Surveillance

One of the requirements for cannabis security is to have remote video surveillance. The requirements differ by state and province. Laws vary on the length of retaining video footage, the camera frame rate and resolution, and camera placement. The longer you need to retain footage and the higher the resolution, the more storage space you will need. So, verify you have more than enough storage space.

Access control is also a requirement at facilities throughout North America. The specific regulations differ slightly depending upon the type of facility and its location. Coupled with a live video surveillance system, an access control solution can help you manage building activity and reduce the risk of unauthorized access, vandalism and theft.

Another necessity is to have a backup plan for power outages and other potential problems. Some regulations include this type of thing. A good feature to consider is a system health check. Regular system checks verify everything works or lead to finding a problem and fixing it before something happens.

You can have all the right equipment and yet a lot can go wrong with a poorly installed video surveillance system. Considering the strict cannabis regulations, most experts advise working with a security consultant in selecting, installing, and maintaining a video surveillance system. It can actually save you money because they will likely get it right the first time. You won't have to worry about having the wrong type of camera or a storm knocking a camera out of place. Ask the security vendor about an installation guarantee clause. It can protect you in case something goes wrong or fails compliance.

The great thing about live video surveillance is that it's a proactive solution and an effective deterrent that can minimize damage. Trained operators watching your property can see trouble before it happens and respond. They may call the police or alert the suspect on an audio speaker.

Implementing all nine items adds multiple layers of security and can help provide the best deterrent to protect your investment, your people, your peace of mind, and your business. For more information on solutions that work, pick up this cannabis security guide or contact us.

Posted in: Security Tips, Video Monitoring