Cannabis Security – Critical Protection for Your BusinessLearn how to safeguard your business with our list of the best cannabis security firms and equipment options.
Security is a top concern for any business that produces or handles valuable goods. In the highly regulated, and often not yet fully legal, cannabis industry, these concerns are magnified significantly. Developing a detailed, actionable security plan is a crucial step for any cannabis business. In this article, we’ll cover the best and most effective features to protect your business and our recommendations of the best cannabis security firms.
Why Is Security So Important for Cannabis Businesses?
High Levels of Risk
Despite the legalization of marijuana in a growing number of jurisdictions, there remains a thriving black market and high demand for cannabis across state or country lines where it is still illegal. Unfortunately, marijuana’s high black market value makes any business that grows, processes, sells, or transports cannabis a prime target for theft – by unscrupulous employees or outsiders.
Cash theft is another inherent risk for cannabis businesses. Because of marijuana’s federally illegal status in the United States, many dispensaries are still unable to accept credit or debit card payments, meaning their cash registers, safes, and deposit bags bound for the bank are filled with large quantities of actual cash.
Compliance With Strict Regulations
In order to get – and stay – licensed, businesses in the legal cannabis industry must comply with layers upon layers of strict security regulations. While specific security regulations and requirements do vary by jurisdiction, a “marijuana security plan” is a standard legal inclusion in a cannabis business license application.
In addition to providing a detailed security plan, marijuana businesses must also comply with strict rules regarding video surveillance, security staffing, and record-keeping, Any incidence of theft, breach of security, or other similar issues must be promptly reported to the proper authorities. Failure to adhere to security regulations may result in legal penalties, up to and including loss of your business license, or even jail time if wilful negligence is found to be at play.
Given the immense importance of adherence to security compliance, it’s not ideal to place the liability of designing and implementing an in-depth security plan solely upon yourself and your team of employees. To ensure no important detail slips by, enlisting cannabis security professionals to oversee this process is essential.
Who Should Hire Cannabis Security?
All plant-touching businesses should invest in specialized security that takes into account the unique concerns and regulations of the cannabis industry, including:
- Commercial growers
- Testing labs
- Processors and manufacturers of any products derived from or containing cannabis
What Are the Features of Cannabis Security?
From armored transport and video surveillance to employee background checks, here are some of the essential security features cannabis businesses must implement to stay safe and compliant.
Video surveillance is an effective deterrent against thieves who know they’re being watched. A video surveillance system may lower your insurance premium, and it’s also crucial evidence in the case of an on-premises injury or liability lawsuit.
Most legal cannabis jurisdictions have very specific video surveillance requirements, including:
- Camera Placement: Generally, cameras must be present anywhere cannabis is stored or handled, including defective plant material slated to be destroyed. Cameras also must be placed at POS terminals, cash safes, and every entry/exit point.
- High Resolution: Minimum frames per second and pixels may be required to ensure the clearest view of what’s going on inside your business. 1280×720 pixels is a typical minimum. You may also be required to use video surveillance that records sound.
- Continuity: Cannabis video surveillance is often required to be continuous – in other words, running 24/7 whether your business is open or closed. Some states require the surveillance footage to be constantly monitored, as well.
- Remote Access: Some jurisdictions require that remote viewing of your company’s surveillance be available at all times, in case the local government has the need to request access.
- Storage: You may be required to keep copies of your video surveillance for anywhere from 30 days to a full year. You may also be required to maintain backup copies of the footage.
Access control is key to a secure cannabis-containing business. Access control features such as key-card entry, two-factor authentication, and scannable employee ID and visitor/vendor badges make it easier to restrict access to cannabis, cash, and company records only to select employees at designated times.
Secured Entry Points
Exterior entry points are a critical security area for cannabis businesses of all types, as thieves can get in and valuables can exit through that door. Installing commercial-grade locks and other access control features on all exterior doors is a must. Having highly-trained staff monitor customer check-in and verify the identities of everyone entering the premises is also crucial.
Cash, product, sensitive documents, and even waste plant material slated to be destroyed must be securely stored, with limited employee access. Most jurisdictions will have specific storage specifications you’ll be required to adhere to, including utilizing alarmed safes and vaults in areas that customers and visitors will not have access to.
Intrusion detection technology that instantly notifies you and the proper authorities if a security breach occurs is a must-have for the hours when your business is closed (or in the event of a particularly bold daytime robbery). Most intrusion detection systems will sound an alarm and send out those notifications if interior or exterior glass is broken, or if a secured door is forced open.
Some jurisdictions may require the use of silent alarms, which instantly notify the authorities of security breaches without drawing attention to themselves. Theoretically, this gives the police a slightly longer window of time in which to apprehend a robber at the scene. Handheld silent alarms and discreetly placed panic buttons may also be utilized by employees.
Employee Background Checks
Employee theft is one of the most common sources of loss for marijuana businesses. Therefore, running thorough background checks on potential employees is essential. A few cannabis security firms offer an employee background check service. If yours doesn’t, don’t be tempted to skip this important step; utilize a reputable background check service before onboarding any new employees.
The transport of marijuana and/or cash is a uniquely vulnerable link in the chain. The types of regulations put in place to keep marijuana drivers and their cargo safe typically include interior and exterior vehicle cameras, GPS tracking, meticulous delivery logs, cannabis stored within secure, nondescript containers, and transport of valuables only within plain, unmarked company vehicles with at least two people present at all times. To keep risk low, cannabis companies may opt to hire an armored transport service to convey valuables. Another option is outfitting your own transport van for secure and compliant cannabis transportation.
Hiring security guards to physically monitor your business is required by law in some jurisdictions. You may be required to have security personnel present during operating hours only, or around the clock. Additionally, some security firms offer on-call service for emergency situations.
The latest and greatest in security technology can only go so far. Your employees are your business’s first line of defense. It’s crucial that every employee have a complete and thorough understanding of your business standard operating procedures. Not only does this strict adherence to policy prevent shrinkage and loss from within, but this also ensures your staff knows how to properly implement any security protocols in the event of a robbery or other suspicious circumstances.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Security Company
Customizable to Your Business Needs
You need a cannabis security firm that will begin by doing an in-depth consultation and assessment of your site’s specific security needs. Avoid companies that offer little more than a cookie-cutter checklist template to fill out. A specific, detailed, actionable security plan is essential not only when you’re applying for your business license, but to keep your business safe and profitable for the long haul.
Company Image and Atmosphere
Dispensaries, in particular, need to take their image and clientele into account when developing a security plan. The customer experience is what keeps buyers coming back, and overly intimidating safeguards may scare yours away. Security personnel are typically the first point of customer contact upon arrival at your shop, so you’ll want the guards you hire to be welcoming and personable, while simultaneously radiating a sense of seriousness and firmness. Likewise, you’ll want your physical security elements to be pronounced enough to deter thieves, but not over-the-top and scary enough to make your dispensary look like a police station.
Security is such a vital requirement for your business that it’s essential to entrust it only to an experienced, reputable cannabis security firm. Do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line by reading through company reviews, getting references from a prospective firm’s previous clients, and examining whether they are in good standing with security industry associations. Our list below of trusted and recommended cannabis security firms is a great place to start.
Our Recommended Cannabis Security Firms
Cannabis Security in the US
Umbrella Technologies is a leading full-service security system integration company focusing on delivering converged open-platform solutions for the cannabis industry. Having over 20 years of code-level experience designing sophisticated end-to-end video surveillance, access control & sophisticated security planning, and compliance for Cannabis Businesses. Umbrella Technologies is based in Aurora, Illinois, and services all types of plant-touching businesses.
Experts in dispensary security and compliance, Helix Security crafts specialized security plans to help businesses ensure compliance with any and all state-required security regulations. Helix’s services offered include access control, alarm systems, video Helix currently services dispensaries in 15 US states.
Global leaders in the security field, Twenty20 Solutions utilizes the latest smart technology, backed by a superior customer service team, to reduce risk and cost for commercial cannabis growers. Twenty20 offers virtual security monitoring by trained professionals, access control, and remote video surveillance that allows you to view your grow operation from anywhere, 24/7. Specialized AI prevents false motion detection alarms, and data storage is fully compliant with strict state regulations. Solar-powered solutions with connectivity capability, even in remote areas, are available for off-grid growers. Twenty20 Solutions is headquartered in Irving, Texas, with offices in Texas and California.
OPS Security Group draws on over 80 years of experience in the security field to provide dispensaries with scalable security services tailored to each business’s individual needs. OPS Security Group’s ASA-trained armed and unarmed security guards bring a uniquely unobtrusive and hospitality-focused approach to the serious protection of your business. Additionally, OPS offers 24/7 offsite virtual surveillance, so the premises are never left unattended. OPS is headquartered in Philadelphia and services cannabis businesses throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.
For over 27 years, Arxys Appliances has provided the best in data protection and analysis for some of the nation’s top companies and organizations. Arxys offers video surveillance and data storage solutions that meet strict picture quality and storage requirements. Arxys’s network video recorders can be paired with nearly any IP camera, include a one-year warranty, and come loaded with NVR-optimized video management software, allowing surveillance footage to be viewed remotely. Arxys’s video surveillance systems are certified in California, Oregon, and Washington and are backed by an award-winning customer support team. Arxys is headquartered in El Cajon, California.
Alert Protective is an award-winning provider of custom-built security and video surveillance solutions for Chicago-area dispensaries, as well as 24/7 remote monitoring services. Alert Protective’s security systems – including intrusion and fire alarms, access control, and video surveillance – are easy to use, comprised of equipment from top-quality brands, and are backed by a one-year warranty and an entirely local customer support team. Alert Protective has been dedicated to serving and supporting Chicago’s small businesses since 1982.
Founded in 2006, Surveillance Secure offers an impressive variety of security solutions, including access control systems, surveillance cameras, commercial fleet GPS tracking and vehicle video systems, as well as in-depth analytics and investigative services. Surveillance Secure also provides live 24/7 remote monitoring and cloud-based storage of security footage. Surveillance Secure handles every step of the security process, from the initial risk assessment to the design, integration, and installation of customized, top-quality security systems. Surveillance Secure currently services Maryland, Washington D.C, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Cannabis Security in Canada
A leader in the security field for over 25 years, GardaWorld provides an impressive suite of security offerings for Canadian cannabis businesses. Services offered include temperature-controlled armored transport, including international transport connections, access control, alarm systems, electronic surveillance and in-person security guards, staff sourcing, employee background checks, assistance with compliance and licensing, and more. GardaWorld provides security services and cannabis transportation to all types of plant-touching businesses, grow houses, and laboratories. GardaWorld has over 70 branch offices located throughout Canada.