Improving Marijuana Dispensary Safety and Security
There are two main factors driving the need for greater attention to cannabis dispensary safety and security, both of which are driven by the legal status of marijuana in the United States.
- Cannabis is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level. Since banks and other financial institutions are tightly regulated at the federal level, they are reluctant to provide a full range of services to marijuana dispensaries. The result is a severe security vulnerability for dispensaries as they are more likely to have a lot of cash on-site.
- The other driving factor is that because the legal status of cannabis varies widely from state to state, there is still a large and lucrative black market for cannabis products. This results in another serious vulnerability at the product level.
A combination of having more cash on hand than most businesses and a highly desirable product for selling on the black market makes marijuana dispensaries a very attractive target to criminals, including the threat of gun violence in armed robberies. Bulletproof products are an essential piece of the puzzle when improving marijuana dispensary safety and security.
Elements of a Marijuana Dispensary Safety and Security Plan
The importance of establishing and maintaining a comprehensive safety and security plan for a cannabis shop cannot be underestimated. Designing and implementing such a plan should be a top priority. This will take time and resources to establish; what’s at stake is the business itself, as well as the safety of everyone who works there. Below is an outline of the various elements to consider:
The physical retail location of a marijuana dispensary is a main focal point of the safety and security plan centered on access control, surveillance, product and cash protection, and employee protection. Options to consider here include the following:
- Surveillance video cameras: There should be robust coverage of the exterior and interior of the facility. On the internal front, be sure cameras capture sensitive areas where products are stored and where cash is stored, as employee theft is the most prevalent threat of all.
- Armed security: Widely considered highly effective, it’s also costly.
- Facility access: Robust alarm systems are essential and may be enhanced with a variety of measures such as glass break detectors (acoustic-based or shock-based detection), motion detectors, panic buttons, and so on. Authorized external and internal access points can be controlled through various measures besides traditional keys, including RFID badges, key cards, multifactor authentication, and even biometrics.
- Security system management: With potentially a wide range of various security devices, assembling a computer system to manage it all, including archived surveillance footage is beneficial. Cloud-based systems are also available and can be managed from any preferred device.
- Bulletproof products: Choosing external or internal windows to separate customers from employees, bullet-resistant glass and transaction products are available from Creative Industries and customizable to any dispensary. Given the heightened threat of armed robbery and gun violence dispensaries face, bulletproofing isn’t just a “nice-to-have,” it’s a “must-have” component of any cannabis shop safety and security plan.
Product and Cash Security
Displaying products should be protected by controlled security display cases with shatter-proof glass, which will help prevent shoplifting. Storage of excess inventory and cash should be in heavy-duty safes or vaults, all with controlled access for only the employees who need it and thoroughly covered by video camera surveillance. Remember to include both product and cash security when it comes to transporting products to the facility and cash out of the facility, especially since marijuana dispensary products and cash may be both unbanked and uninsured.
Given the natural focus on marijuana dispensaries, its products, and cash security, it is understandable why many dispensary owners haven’t paid as much attention to cybersecurity as they should. After all, a dispensary handles and stores sensitive customer data, which is vulnerable to cyber hacks and attacks without adequate cybersecurity measures. This is even more important when a dispensary serves medical marijuana customers because their data should be handled with even more protective measures. Some basics to keep in mind:
- MFA: Any dispensary computer systems requiring password login credentials should include multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect against password breaches.
- Website security: Install a web application firewall (WAF) and a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate, maintain regular website backups, and regular monitor for malicious code.
- Network security: Install antivirus software and keep it up-to-date, conduct a regular network security audit, and be sure the WiFi network is secure, encrypted, and hidden.
- Employee training: Make sure employees understand cybersecurity practices and take it seriously.
Policies and Procedures
Because so many dispensary thefts are “inside jobs” by employees, important policies include extensive background checks and vetting of potential new hires. Detailed, thorough product audits are also essential. Every ounce of cannabis coming in and going out must be accounted for and tied to inventory and receipts. These have been established to remain in compliance with local and state regulations. Again, be sure all employees are thoroughly trained in all policies and procedures they must follow.
Bulletproof Products for Marijuana Dispensary Safety and Security
Creative Industries manufactures a multitude of bullet-resistant products that are especially suitable for use in marijuana dispensaries to protect your business and employees, including the following:
- VWS Bullet Resistant Vision Window: Available in single, double, or triple lites (panes), this window offers adequate protection from the most common guns used in armed robberies.
- 1728-WW Bullet Resistant Transaction Drawer: A bulletproof transaction drawer like this can be used for both interior and exterior walk-up service at a marijuana dispensary. The Lexan (transparent bullet-resistant polycarbonate plastic) lid provides a clear view of the drawer’s interior from both sides of the window. The drawer is moved by a large aluminum handle on the employee side and operates smoothly via running ball-bearing extension slides. With a stainless steel front, interior bill clip, and a brush-type coin pad, the drawer can be locked by the drop bolt that goes through the bottom of the drawer into its housing.
- No. 5-D Talk Thru: This 5-inch diameter stainless steel Talk Thru provides natural sounding voice transmission utilizing vertical louvers and offset slots from front to back for maximum protection.
Combining these three products makes for well-protected transactions between employees and customers while giving staff peace of mind knowing bulletproof products keep them safe should an armed robbery be attempted.
For more information on Creative Industries and marijuana dispensary protection, please see Bulletproof Windows for Marijuana Dispensaries and Do Marijuana Dispensaries Need Bullet Resistant Products? We’ve been helping businesses across various industries achieve excellent safety and security with bulletproof products since the early 1970s and would be happy to discuss options with your company. Please get in touch through the Contact Us page of our website or by calling us directly at 800-776-2068.