Guide to dispensary and cannabis security solutions

As more states continue to legalize cannabis for recreational use across the US, there is a growing need for security in the burgeoning industry. While security systems are necessary for any commercial building, cannabis facilities have a unique set of physical security requirements to meet.

Operating outside of usual banking channels, many cannabis businesses have large amounts of cash on-site, making them a target for theft and crime. In addition, recreational and medical marijuana security plans need to adhere to certain local and federal compliance standards in regards to the production, handling, transportation, and sale of cannabis products. The right cannabis security solutions can help businesses stay compliant, secure, and safe.

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Access control for dispensary and cannabis security systems

While most commercial buildings have some combination of access control, surveillance, and cyber security deployed to safeguard their assets, the cannabis industry often requires more stringent measures. Access control is a key component of a comprehensive cannabis security plan that can help prevent unauthorized individuals from getting into places they shouldn’t be. The best access control for medical marijuana and cannabis security is cloud-based, scalable, and easy to manage.

Cloud-based systems are essential for maximizing interoperability and creating holistic cannabis security solutions. Especially for businesses that need dispensary security at multiple locations, a cloud-based access control solution simplifies and centralizes security management. The cloud also makes it easier to connect access control with video surveillance systems, alarms, and sensors that detect glass break, gunshots, and motion or vibrations. A more complete cannabis and dispensary security solution allows greater control with less investment.

Mobile-based access control systems like Openpath can provide added flexibility over traditional keys or RFID badges, with more advanced security features, including multi-factor authentication and biometric authentication, which are popular for grow facility security. Openpath also offers a touchless entry option, which helps create more hygienic environments for cannabis dispensaries. However, if key cards or badges are still something you want to use, make sure they are highly encrypted to prevent cloning and copying, and are interoperable with other types of access methods.

Video surveillance for cannabis security 

Businesses in the marijuana and cannabis space should always add a security camera component to their cannabis security plan. A video security system can help businesses secure their facilities after-hours when no one is there, and improve asset protection throughout the building.

When selecting a video surveillance system for a cannabis security plan, make sure the system can provide high-quality, real-time footage for the best security. Scalability is important, as many security system deployments for the cannabis industry are large, and need to service multiple buildings and locations. A cloud-based VMS is a great option for cannabis security solutions. The security teams will have visibility into the facility remotely, and be able to integrate with the other dispensary security systems such as access control, HVAC, and lighting.

It’s important to note that not all video management systems are approved for cannabis dispensary security. There are state and local regulations for video retention, which differ across the US. Work with a local regulatory agency to determine the requirements for your location.

Types of cannabis security plans

Within the cannabis industry, a few micro-industries converge. There’s the cultivation and agricultural component, the retail and cannabis dispensary component, the transportation and processing component, and the business component. Some cannabis businesses have these different functions spread out over multiple buildings, and sometimes even across states, while others have one large facility that houses all factions of the business. The types of security systems and capabilities needed depend on the function of the facility.

Security for cannabis cultivation and grow facilities

Due to the nature of growing cannabis, any facility that has on-premise cultivation sites needs added security. As with any consumable product, cannabis plants and facilities that manufacture edible products, there are strict security measures to follow to ensure the product is not tampered with. Strict access control measures can prevent unauthorized individuals from getting into cultivation facilities, and video surveillance should be installed and monitored for any prohibited behavior. If the cultivation facility is indoors, the environment will also need to be carefully monitored. Lighting, temperature, and humidity all need to be strictly controlled; an integrated building management system is a useful tool in streaming cannabis grow facility security and operations.

Cannabis and medical marijuana dispensary security 

When it comes to transactional security for selling and distributing cannabis products, businesses need to be smart in their security technology. While physical security guards are common (and recommended), technology can help provide more advanced asset protection. Cloud-based access control systems can ensure only authorized personnel have access to back rooms or employee entrances, and keep patrons on the right side of the counter. Because cannabis businesses need to keep a detailed log of all retail activity and transactions, and often operate in cash, access control systems can help provide thorough audit logs and reports to meet cannabis industry compliance requirements.

In-house office security solutions 

Because most security breaches actually occur from inside an organization, it’s vital that businesses in the cannabis industry use enhanced security systems for their in-house staff. All employees should be thoroughly vetted, and their information stored on secure, access-controlled servers. Cannabis facilities frequently host third-party vendors and contractors, which can leave businesses open to security threats. Therefore, an access control system that offers digital visitor credentials, with customizable permissions, is a smart way to not only track and log all visitors, but also ensure guests aren’t going anywhere they shouldn’t while on the property.

Storage security for cannabis dispensaries

A top concern for many cannabis security experts is theft prevention. Because cannabis products are in high demand, and are often expensive, they are a common target for criminals, especially in places where large amounts of product are left unattended. An advanced access control system integrated with video surveillance can help protect storage facilities from break-ins, making it difficult for would-be thieves to get inside. In the event of a breach, with a detailed activity log and video footage of who accessed the storage room and when, security teams can quickly pinpoint the culprit and take appropriate action.

Safety requirements for cannabis industry businesses

In addition to physical security, cannabis industry businesses need to be prepared for emergencies. Whether in the form of a natural disaster, an active shooter, or medical emergency, proper planning and proactive safety protocols can help prevent further damage. Using an access control system with a building lockdown feature is a smart way to prepare for emergencies. For example, the Flexible Lockdown Plan from mobile access control provider Openpath allows business owners to create customized plans for which doors or zones to lock down in different scenarios, with the ability to trigger a lockdown remotely. In addition, using an interoperable access control system, businesses can automatically send out safety alerts, notify emergency personnel, and view real-time video footage of the incident without even setting foot on the premises.

With occupancy tracking and management quickly becoming the norm for most businesses, crowd control is more important than ever. Cannabis businesses should have the ability to see, in real-time, how many people are at the facility, and be able to manage occupancy levels remotely. An access control system with native occupancy tracking features can enforce crowd control efforts by denying new entries, and people sensors can provide accurate counts and spatial data for social distancing inside your facility.

Cannabis access control checklist

To get the best cannabis security for your facility, it’s important to ensure your security plan covers all aspects of your building. Use this helpful checklist to ensure your cannabis security system is providing the best security possible:

  • Start with a complete security audit of your facilities and sites. Consider factors such as building location, local crime rates, surrounding businesses, and access points on the property. This will help you identify areas that need extra protection, and inform what types of technology investments to make as you design a dispensary and cannabis security plan. 

  • Use cloud-managed mobile access control and integrated video surveillance for your cannabis security. Remote access eases administrative burden, improves visibility, and increases efficiency across your operations. For areas like cannabis grow facilities that need extra security, enable two-factor authentication via your mobile access control solution to leverage the biometrics already built into smartphones. 

  • Parcel the facility into zones dedicated to different functions, such as dispensary retail, cultivation, storage, and operations. Then, determine the different levels of access required for each zone of the facility. For example, people that work the dispensary retail counter will probably need access to back room storage to replenish product, but won’t need access to a cultivation room. 

  • When choosing new cannabis security systems for your space, make sure they are interoperable for the best experience. Your access control systems, video surveillance, alarms, and sensors should all work together in the cloud, minimizing management and giving you greater control with less investment. This is especially important for multi-site cannabis enterprises, that need to be able to manage security for all buildings and locations from a single interface.

  • Make sure your systems help you achieve cannabis industry compliance standards. Access control systems should have detailed audit trails and reporting that are easy to filter and export. Ensure you have access to a full transaction history, are logging all visitor and vendor information, and that any data stored locally is secured.

  • Work with an attorney to ensure your cannabis facility meets all legal requirements. From accepting cash or credit cards, protecting against underage purchasing, and following all state mandates for cannabis businesses, a cannabis attorney can help you clear any red tape.

Do you need access control for cannabis security? Openpath’s leading mobile and cloud-based access control solutions are designed to scale for any size deployment, and can help cannabis businesses meet their local security compliance requirements. Get started today to create a holistic cannabis security solution that’s customized to fit your specific needs.

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