Legal Marijuana enterprises are growing tremendously. Cannabis dispensaries, specifically, can generate huge profits. The legal marijuana industry in the United States last year generated massive sales to the tune of $10 billion. These kinds of profits make cannabis dispensaries a high-value target for theft. All cannabis dispensaries require a security strategy in operation to secure the products they are offering, the money present on site, and the various items stored in the facility. Having a Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan that is measurable is necessary because the industry is progressively growing. Before cannabis was legalized for recreation use, authorities required stores to have a medical marijuana security plan.
In particular, Dispensaries are continuously monitored compared to other businesses, mainly regarding security practices. When it comes to the attention of the cannabis industry and the overall security of your products and other properties, coming up with a security plan is a must.
Table of Contents
- Security Regulations for Marijuana Dispensaries
- Best Security Practices
- Determining the best cannabis security services
- Requirements in Provinces Allowing Private Dispensaries
- Common Compliance Requirements for Dispensaries
- There should be 5 Sections to your Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan
Security Regulations for Marijuana Dispensaries
Start by learning the cannabis dispensary security regulations that have been established. One thing, though, is the rules change based on jurisdiction. However, they must be a part of the dispensary security plan. The use of cannabis and its possession go against federal laws, but regulations are implemented on a state-by-state basis. Several states have put in place specific rules for video surveillance, involving the least frames per second, camera clarity, 24-hour usage, and storing the footage for 90 days, preferably a year.
Depending on your state, you may need to protect the entrance to avoid any unauthorized access and also to poses the necessary storage requirements that medical marijuana needs. It is advisable to research the specific rules that your state or jurisdiction has put in place to identify what type of security you need to apply.
Best Security Practices
Several best practices are practical and usually followed when evaluating security needs, regardless of the regulations on security in your jurisdiction. Some of the best practices involve;
One of the main parts of any Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan is access management. As earlier stated, most states demand you to install a security system. Access control system guarantees that only specific individuals in the dispensary can be allowed to access the facility.
The law (AGLC) demands you to protect your customer entrance points, entry/exit points, and the entrance to your marijuana storage room using access controls. This law involves the installation of passkeys or swipe cards. However, you cannot pose a master key that gives you access to the entire facility with a single card or code.
Access control enables you to monitor who uses their credentials to gain access, and the system helps secures the dispensaries during off-hours.
Extra Locks on Storage Space.
In general, the dispensary demands some type of access control system; you should also make use of additional locks to secure the storage area. In Canada, the regulations allow the storage of marijuana, but not on display, kept in a locked area, and have controlled access.
Cannabis Storage Room
The AGLC stipulates that storage of weed that is not on display to consumers should be done in a locked storage room whose access is only available to authorized staff. This room should be designed in a specific way, i.e., with Metal Mesh that has been flattened off the EMMA 557-99 design having a nominal strand thickness of 0.120” and a diamond-shaped opening of 0.563”x1.688”. You should also mount steel mesh externally according to the AGLC requirements.
Video surveillance has become a law requirement for marijuana dispensaries in several states or jurisdictions. You should go for the highest resolution cameras that you can afford. The video surveillance system should also include proper sound, if possible.
A 24/7 monitoring system must be available through the integration of a CCTV (closed-circuit television) system. According to AGLC guidelines, the installed CCTV cameras should be positioned to record footage, particularly in areas such as receiving, point-of-sale, customer area or the main floor, and the protected marijuana storage room.
A 60 days footage storage record must be maintained on-premise and should then be forwarded to the law enforcement or AGLC once requested. The file footage needs to be in a readable/standard format capable of producing digital still images and color video.
It is advisable to use solutions such as VERI-F-EYE. It integrates CCTV to the intrusion detection system, hence allows AGLC or law enforcement to respond to robbery attempts at your dispensary effectively and ensures the incident is progressively recorded.
Additionally, according to regulations, you must check every week if the installed CCTV monitoring systems are functioning as required.
Video surveillance not only works as a form of compliance with those regulations, but it also serves to deter potential thieves. Remote monitoring cannot be understated. You must have video surveillance and access control systems operating in harmony to enable you to keep track of visual reports and access logs at all times.
It is advisable to have basic security systems in operation like; Intrusion alarms that turn on when one is not in the dispensary. Because there is a chance that people will not be working 24/7, it is also necessary to ensure that your alarm system can notify both the business owner and the authorities if an intruder tries to breach or break in.
Theft done by employees is the most significant cause of loss of revenue in the cannabis industry; hence, do not neglect to add a background analysis of every employee in the cannabis security plan. Background checks are vital, considering how marijuana sales are controversial, mainly because cannabis was deemed to be illegal until recently. Looking into the history of employees reduces the risk of accidentally giving an individual with bad intentions access to the dispensary.
The cannabis industry is rapidly growing. As the industry expands, the demand will go up, inventory, and profits within the dispensaries. Moving the cash, cannabis, or other items makes your business vulnerable. This means that every Medical Marijuana Security Plan needs to include armored transport, commonly called marijuana vans.
Determining the best cannabis security services
Using an established Marijuana security company improves the security in operations of your marijuana dispensary. It would be wise to evaluate several factors when choosing a service provider and decide the specific security services you require.
The primary factor to be considered is your budget compared to the security level you need. The quality of the security should take center stage over the cost since with the right security level, you are empowered with the ability to secure your products, revenue, and staff.
Research in detail all security companies that are available and preference should be given to a company with adequate experience in protecting enterprises in the marijuana industry. Study testimonials and reviews from previous and current customers get information on a security company’s quality of service. Also, find out what industry associations and security professionals have to comment regarding the security company.
You should also get recommendations from other cannabis dispensary owners who have operated the same type of business and have successfully secured their operations.
Established marijuana security companies provide different types of services that can be designed to fit into the budget and requirements of a particular business. On top of that, the companies offer to consult services to assist you in deciding the specific service that the cannabis business needs.
Requirements in Provinces Allowing Private Dispensaries
In the provinces where marijuana dispensaries are allowed to operate, it is a must to obtain a license from the central government. The procedure to get the permit depends on the province you want to work from.
There are numerous common factors. However, such formal application procedures (involving annual licensing fees, non-refundable fees, and deposits) and financial and criminal background checks are essential when setting up a marijuana dispensary.
British Columbia’s LCRB (Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch) deals with the provision of licenses in the province. Currently, Columbia has not set a maximum number of dispensaries that can operate in it. However, a license holder can only have a maximum of eight stores.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is responsible for licensing dispensaries. This province has only 51 retail licenses available. For you to obtain one, you are needed to submit applications to the SLGA, which then puts you in a lottery. Saskatchewan plus one other province are the only ones enabling online selling of marijuana.
When applying for a license in Alberta, you must submit the application documents to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). Previously, the ALGC had no intention of putting a hard cap on the number of marijuana retails operating in the province. Currently, though, it has suspended the application process due to the unavailability of marijuana in the region. Typically, the application process takes two to three months.
Ontario is a perfect example when it comes to fluid regulations. In the beginning, the province was willing to restraint both in-store and online sales of cannabis via its provincially-owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). But after a change of government, Ontario has now legalized private in-store retailers.
To secure a license, applications are forwarded to Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO). Only 25 permits are currently available due to the cannabis provision crunch. Queen’s park grants these licenses through a lottery. However, the along-term cap on the number of dispensaries operable in Ontario is not in place.
In Manitoba, you must surrender your license application to the Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA). Similar to Saskatchewan, it is within the law to offer cannabis online and in-store. The LGA is currently regulating the opening of new retail dispensaries via a lottery system.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) is dishing out licenses. However, Newfoundland and Labrador are adopting a step-by-step avenue for allowing private dispensaries to commence selling. Step/phase One of the processes is complete, giving 24 retailers the go-ahead to open.
Also, Newfoundland & Labrador has four dispensary tiers:
- Stand-Alone: retailers that carry marijuana only and marijuana-related compliments.
- Store-Within-a-Store: a secluded space within non-marijuana related stores.
- Dedicated Service Desk & Cash-Counter: a quiet area inside a larger retail store.
- Behind the Counter: a conjoint area at the back of the counter in an active retail store.
Common Compliance Requirements for Dispensaries
You will be required to comply with stringent measures in several areas when applying for a marijuana dispensary store in provinces allowing marijuana sales. These areas involve:
- Zoning Restrictions, where you are not allowed to open a store within 100m of a school.
- Marketing. Marijuana and marijuana-related products should not be in plain sight via the store windows.
- Store Design/Layout, the receiving area, should be set apart from other stores.
- Store Management, in provinces such as Alberta, should not be open before 10 AM or after 2 AM.
- Specific measurements, e.g., the distance between schools and stores, differ between provinces when applying, and it is essential to be ready to provide for each requirement.
There should be 5 Sections to your Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan
1. Security Compliance Narrative
This section should have 20-25 pages and comprise every check-boxes of cooperativeness as it relates to protecting your marijuana dispensary. It should entail all your security procedures, processes, and safeguards. Including;
- Emergency operating procedures
- Crowd control plan
- Active shooter response plan
- Security System Maintenance & Backup
- Information Security Plan (cybersecurity plan)
- Community Security & Outreach Program
- Security Equipment Maintenance Program
- Restricted Access Areas
- Cannabis Goods Display Security
- Cannabis Disposal
- Vault & Theft Prevention plan
- Cannabis Storage
- Dispensary Site Access and Capacity
- Site Construction and Notification
- Plus much more
2. Security System Descriptions
This section should have a range of 8-12 pages. It breaks down all your security system types one by one. The part should touch on access control systems, video surveillance systems, and alarm and intrusion systems. It should explain your dispensary’s security levels with each system description. Sketch a system illustration for each security system and touch on all protection compliance definitions.
3. Security System Floor plans
They are Security system engineering designs that cover the dispensary floor plans put in place. This section should contain a maximum of 50 pages. It is crucial to report on the following sections.
- Exterior Video Surveillance
- Exterior Access Control
- Interior Video Surveillance
- Interior Access Control
- Interior & Exterior Intrusion Systems
4. Description of Security Vendors
This is an overview of every private security firm that you have selected to assist with the dispensary security system’s designs and operations. This should include details on the capabilities of each firm, their tasks during construction, and after the creation of the store.
5. Private Security Contracts
Submit a copy of a signed contract with a security firm licensed under Section 10-5 of the Private Detective, Private Security, Private Alarm, Vendor, Fingerprint, and Locksmith Act of 2004 (225 ILCS 447/10-5”.
Security is not just guards, guns, and cameras; it is also how an owner is training employees to handle customers. When you fail to train your employees on proper security culture effectively, it is highly likely that you will run into problems.
The security realities and the law surrounding marijuana dispensaries require a professional security company involvement when developing the security plan for your Marijuana Dispensary.
From the beginning, you need expert guidance to cover all of your security needs and help you acquire a system that is of high standard- with strong resistance to interference and no failure – while at the same time satisfying the set laws.
Establishing a proper dispensary security plan at the start will protect you from the losses brought by non-compliant and poor implementation, which can lead to theft of goods, harm to your employees or customers, and even loss of your license.