Theft tops the list of security concerns for legal cannabis businesses across the U.S. The high-value crops and products, and cannabis’ popularity on the black market, make these businesses a prime target for organized crime.
In this climate, a cannabis security template that evolves as the business evolves is not a luxury; it’s a cost of doing business safely and securely.
Sections of a Cannabis Security Plan
A cannabis security plan is divided into two sections: Facility Security and Operational Security. Both sections identify and address security vulnerabilities to prevent security breaches. Should preventative measures fail, the cannabis security template helps operators quickly observe, monitor, protect, counter and report security events.
Facility Security Section
The facility security section examines security vulnerabilities in around the perimeter, in parking lots, at ingress and egress areas, within the facility, and in product and video storage areas. It also identifies how operators will correct these vulnerabilities with security camera systems, access control systems, and intrusion detection systems.
Operational Security Section
The operational security section considers security threats and addresses them through policy, training, inventory control and other means. This section addresses human resource policies, employee security training, tracking who enters and leaves the premises, and whistleblowing protections.
Definition of Cannabis Security
To many cannabis operators, cannabis security means meeting state requirements. But Matt Carroll, COO of Seed to Sale Security reports meeting state requirements is too little; it may help operators secure a license, but it won’t keep their operations secure.
What cannabis security should mean to legal cannabis operations is that not one gram of cannabis goes missing from seed to sale. It also means security measures must protect every person in the supply chain, from grower to transporter to retailer to buyer.
This is only possible when operators learn the requirements and processes for their state and local municipality and invest in security technology. “You will spend the money one way or another,” says Carroll. “It’s just a question of whether you will spend it on proactive security measures or reacting after crimes occur.”
Stringent government regulations make cannabis security plans necessary. Before issuing a license, state regulators and local governments want to see a high level of security planning for cannabis businesses. In a competitive RFP process to obtain a conditional use permit and business license, a comprehensive security plan might be the difference between obtaining a coveted license or not.
Video Surveillance Considerations
A cannabis security plan must document where security cameras will go, their resolution, how companies will store video footage, and how they will maintain the security system.
When reviewing applications, states will test if the correct video surveillance procedures are in place. The local municipality will do the same. These entities will consider:
· Does the system use cameras with the minimum camera resolution?
· Do the cameras capture the minimum number of frames per second?
· Can operators remotely monitor the system?
· Does the system store footage for at least 90 days?
· What monitoring system does the system use?
Though most states require far less, Carroll recommends opting for the highest-quality video you can afford and selecting a system that allows for real-time monitoring and provides ample storage. This system will allow operators to comply with regulations while deterring theft.
Access Control and Intrusion
States and local municipalities will also consider access control in license applications. The security template should inform regulators of your plans for tracking who enters and leaves and how you will control access after-hours.
The security template should also share how technology will control access to specific areas of the building. It should detail how it will allow only authorized individuals, for example, access video or product storage areas, and should share the additional procedures in place to control access.
This section of the security plan should identify the technology used, the roles of everyone in the company, how technology will restrict access by role, and how the system will remove access when an employee quits.
Don’t forget to discuss intrusion alarms in this document. These systems should include glass-break detectors and motion detectors to detect unauthorized entries. These alarms should automatically notify operators when they detect probable security events.
Address Your People Problems
The greatest threat to every cannabis operation comes from the employees themselves. For this reason, every cannabis security template must address and mitigate employee risks.
Getting a license requires stakeholders to undergo a background check. But for optimal security, all employees require a background check too. Businesses must make sure recent hires are not career criminals with a record for violent crimes and theft. “You cannot scrutinize employees enough,” Carroll stresses.
Every cannabis security plan must include a detailed explanation for how the company will onboard new employees, train them in policies and procedures, and address whistleblowing protection. An anonymous reporting system with assurances toward confidentiality makes employees more likely to report concerns.
When high value crops and products make a cannabis business a prime target for organized crime, the best defense is a good offense. A comprehensive cannabis security template keeps people, products and profits safe from theft and harm.