Dispensary Security: Best Security Practices for Cannabis Dispensaries

With the rapid growth of the medical and recreational marijuana industry, it’s no surprise that there’s been a tremendous boom in cannabis dispensaries, as well. And, with that boom comes an increased need for smart dispensary security practices. 

And, with the increasing number of people gaining access to medical cannabis, the natural progression of things includes more inventory and more cash on hand. Security industry experts say that this combination is like a perfect storm…high-value products, more cash on hand, and insufficient point of entry security…making cannabis dispensaries a likely target for thieves.

If your cannabis business is growing, or you’re opening a new one, dispensary security needs to be your top priority. Take measures to safeguard your facility, funds, and products on-site from the day you open your doors, so you’ll be in the best position to protect your cash flow and your inventory.

On top of all that, your security plan should be scalable so that it can grow with your rapidly growing business. Let’s take a look at the best security practices for new and established cannabis dispensaries, according to security industry experts.

1. Visible, Uniformed Point of Entry Security Guards

 Many dispensary owners think they should avoid a visible security presence, but this is a big mistake. Because of past history and stigma that surrounds marijuana use, many customers can feel skittish when entering the facility. They may be concerned about the legitimacy of the business or an unsavory element inside. 

The best practice? Have a visible point of entry security guard to maximize a positive customer experience. A visible security presence puts customers at ease and keeps things orderly. It may even be enough to stop potential thieves in their tracks.

Since your security guard will be the customer’s first contact as they enter the store, he should be warm and welcoming to customers, but still authoritative. It should be clear that there’s a zero-tolerance policy for any customer behavior that presents a perceived or actual threat to the business, it’s staff, and its patrons.

2. Internal Theft Protection

It’s probably no surprise that the majority of losses in a dispensary come from theft, often by employees. Of course, your hiring process must be designed to weed out unsavory employees. Background checks and employee screening are essential, as well as an effective inventory management system and POS system.

Having a security guard in-store can also help to discourage heavy-handedness in your staff. One point of entry security guard may not be enough to observe internal areas of the dispensary, so an in-store guard is also worth considering, especially during peak business hours. An extra guard during busy times could prevent loss of revenue and inventory that might otherwise be overlooked until it’s too late.

Your employees should also be informed that they are not allowed to sell the product to themselves. It’s up to you if you allow them to sell to friends or family. Whatever you decide, make sure employees are clear on the policy.

An automatically relocking cabinet system is also essential for dispensary security and internal theft protection. These systems are useful for safeguarding inventory and monitoring who is accessing the product and, when necessary, making it easier to track down a dishonest employee.

3. Secure Product Transportation

Secure product transportation should also be a priority for dispensary owners. Getting your product from the grower to your store presents specific security issues. Since your product is so valuable and in-demand, it makes an appealing target for thieves, from harvest all the way through the final sale.

If your dispensary handles their own transport, hire at least one uniformed security guard to ride along on every transport. Equip your transport vehicles with GPS tracking, video monitoring that’s streamed to your home base, and even bullet-resistant glass and finishes wherever possible.

4. Video Surveillance

Most states, including Missouri, have made video surveillance a legal requirement for cannabis dispensaries. To ensure that you are complying with local laws, choose the highest-quality video and sound possible. 

Regulations usually require a clear picture, unobstructed views of the premises, and no blind spots or visual obstructions. Some states will also have rules about camera resolution and how long videos must be stored. Remote monitoring is also required in some places, especially during closing hours.

5. Intrusion Alarms

Intrusion alarms are also required by many states, including Missouri. Most dispensaries aren’t open 24/7, so a monitored security system that activates during off-hours is a necessity for cannabis dispensary security. The system should alert dispensary management and authorities if someone attempts to break in when the store is closed.

Dispensary Security Regulations for the State of Missouri

Cannabis dispensaries have some of the strictest security regulations around, and they vary significantly from state to state. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regulates security laws in our state. In addition to the best practices recommended above, here are some of the key dispensary security regulations to know about in Missouri.

  • In addition to video monitoring at entry and exit points, Missouri requires video surveillance of point of sale locations and safes or vaults. Cameras must provide high-quality images and accessible remotely by law enforcement if needed. Ample lighting for the cameras at all times is also required.
  • Each facility must have a trained security manager responsible for conducting a semi-annual security audit, training employees on theft prevention, and evaluating the credentials of contractors and third parties hired by the facility.
  • Each facility must have a silent duress alarm to notify authorities of an unauthorized breach.

The dispensary security best practices recommended in this article are by no means all-inclusive, so be sure to do your own research. As your business grows, so will your security needs. GCI Security’s industry experts can assist you in establishing an effective security plan that grows with your company. We have the knowledge, resources, and trained security personnel you need to keep your product and cash on hand safe from internal and external theft.

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