With the tension that comes with the pressure on Justin Trudeau to hasten the process of marijuana legalization, medical marijuana security for licensed MMPR facilities is as important as ever. As the medical cannabis industry grows, without extensive security measures to protect licensed facilities, they may become an easy target.
Even before investors start to pour money into production labs, they are first required to become a Health Canada licensed providers, and are then faced with the challenges of securing their business.
It’s a business that has security risks associated with it, and as such requires a comprehensive security plan and system in place. Risks of theft and or tampering can have serious financial repercussions.
What Are the Regulations?
To avoid security breaches means that MMPR Licensed facilities must bulk up on security as much as they can. It’s important to know what exactly goes into protecting the product, staff, and facilities.
The industry got its start in 2014 when Ontario introduced legislation that allowed for the licensed producers to distribute to patients with approved prescriptions. Currently, there are 31 licensed producers across Canada, and 18 of them are in Ontario.
Avoid Costly Regulatory Fines with a 360-Degree Security System
Work with Canada’s top security team to get your business protections up to speed.To protect the product and everything else that comes along with it, the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) highlights in Division 3 of their regulations 11 security levels for the storage of controlled substances. With level 11 being the strictest, all licensed producers must comply with Level 7 as the minimum threshold of security.
The basic requirements for medical marijuana facilities according to Level 7 include:
- Sufficient detectors to indicate when there is an unauthorized attempt to access, penetrate, remove, or open the vault or safe.
- The vault, safe or caged area must be located at least a meter away from any outside wall if located on the ground floor or an accessible roof.
- All electrical channels for alarm systems, security equipment, lighting, and telephones must be in accordance with any applicable electrical code.
- Vault or safe alarm equipment is to be monitored by an U.L.C. (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) approved central monitoring station. When such service is unavailable, the Bureau will consider alternates.
- Control boxes for the security system are to be located inside the vault or safe.
For Ontario it’s integral for medical marijuana security that you choose the best security system in order to meet Ontario’s province requirements as well as getting the highest value out of your investment.
What Are the Security Features You Need to Protect Your Facility?
According to Health Canada and the MMPR, in order to become a licensed provider any facility where cannabis is present must have functioning cameras 24/7. Not only do you need to ensure that the security systems present at your facilities capture video footage, but these systems must be backed up and information retained in case of a malfunction.
In the event that any of these facilities have a security system that is down, you must have a technician available in order to repair your system.
Your security system must include intrusion detection mechanisms and closed circuit video equipment must be in place to ensure that all sites where marijuana is present are constantly monitored. Furthermore, your security system must incorporate access control and must be fully capable of identifying and detecting every individual who enters or leaves restricted areas
It is your responsibility to ensure that each site is protected according to the security design standards set out in Division 3 which include:
- Uncontrolled licensee area: This provides a buffer zone that gives a clear indication to the public that ownership and responsibility of the behaviour in the space rests with the licensee.
As a licensed provider, you must have signs and physical barriers in place that separate your area from public space. This requirement includes clear signage outside with physical barriers in place to provide sufficient resistance to impede unauthorized access to the premises where cannabis is present.
- Controlled licensee area: This includes all areas of the building where the general public have restricted access. This would mostly entail dispensaries where, for example, customers have access during business hours.
- Restricted areas: These sites are normally only accessible to employees and should have access control systems in place to control who is going in and out of these sites. This would extend to labs and certain restricted areas, where you require not only video surveillance but also need analytics and check-ins in place to identify both people and activities in these areas.
- Secure areas: This consists of restricted regions where there is highly sensitive information and equipment. Access should be limited to authorized personnel only. Therefore, the strictest security measures must be in place in these areas, which extends to cultivation facilities and labs. While access control and video surveillance is mandatory, the more technologically advanced your security systems are, the easier it is to monitor the secure areas.
If you’re looking for security experts who know the specifics of medical marijuana security, contact Logixx Security about the best security solutions for your facility. Our experts offer a free consultation about the features of security systems that align with MMPR’s requirements. Get in touch with us today!
In general, designing a marijuana security system is at-par in complexity to securing banks and laboratories handling controlled substances. Not only are marijuana businesses affected by the regulatory environment, but they must also address challenging and diverse security issues.
When it comes to building a marijuana dispensary security plan, it’s important to understand that there’s no uniform solution applicable for every need. Rather, you’ll have to put your dispensary through a site assessment to determine if its exact risks are identified, which then results in a properly designed and effective security system.
Prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana, the legal marijuana market was comprised of medical marijuana producers. For the past few years these legal medical marijuana producers were required to comply with stringent security requirements laid-out by Health Canada under Subdivision C of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
The regulatory environment for marijuana dispensaries is less clear, especially as each province has the right to shape its respective marijuana market at-will. Ontario and Quebec have opted to sell recreational marijuana through provincially-owned vendors, which completely removes the prospect of private sector retailers.
However, British Columbia and Alberta are permitting privately-owned marijuana dispensaries. In fact, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) has already set the specific security requirements prospective dispensaries must fulfill in order to be considered for a license (which will be in scarce supply as only 250 store-licenses will be available in the first year).
Contact Logixx Security to See if Your Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan Complies with Emerging Provincial Regulations
Importance of Dispensary Security Plan Regulations
It turns out that government-mandated security requirements for dispensaries aren’t any less than those required of marijuana producers. In fact, the AGLC establishes from the onset that your marijuana dispensary security system must be professionally designed and installed.
Failing to comply with the AGLC’s requirements will result in losing your opportunity to sell recreational marijuana in Alberta. If not identical, then comparable security requirements could emerge in BC, which will leave these recommendations as best practices you could use to prepare for security regulations in your province.
With limited opportunities nationwide, it’s vital that you take your marijuana dispensary security efforts seriously. Otherwise, you could lose out on opportunities or – should you secure a license – lose it later and see your dispensary shut-down.
However, besides government compliance, your dispensary security plan must also comply with insurance requirements by properly securing your goods and – not least – ensuring the safety of your employees and customers.
How to Get Marijuana Security Clearance from the Government
The following components, though legally required in Alberta, align with industry best practices for securing your marijuana dispensary security system. Adhering to these practices will ensure that your employees, customers and cannabis goods are fully protected from threats.
This is essential as it identifies your marijuana business’ exact risks and requirements. Your dispensary’s location and its surrounding building layout will factor into your risk-level and, in turn, determine what’s to be included in your marijuana dispensary security system.
Unlike legal marijuana producers, dispensaries have specific risks resulting from the fact that they’re retail sites. Dispensaries operating in shared-occupant buildings – such as shopping plazas – will not have control of every entrance nor can they control the flow of people in those buildings, especially outside of store hours.
These risks have to be accounted for in order to determine the systems necessary for securing your dispensary and your employees. A dispensary operating in an area with a history of greater break-in rates will have a higher risk-level compared to an area with a lower rate.
The goal of your dispensary security plan is to insert obstacles between threats and your assets. In dispensaries, this means securing the entry and exit points you can control as well as building a proper barrier denying unauthorized access to your cannabis supplies.
Securing Entry & Exit Points
Under the AGLC, this starts with installing 1.5 mm hollow metal doors with 1.9 mm metal frames and tamper-proof hinges. These doors must be installed with commercial-grade locks equipped with tamper-proof strike plates, with the locking device penetrating the door frame at 1.25 cm or deeper.
The customer entrance and receiving door must be built of commercial grade material, so as to prevent unauthorized access at both ends.
Keep Threats Away with Access Control
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Cannabis Storage Room
The AGLC requires you to store cannabis that’s not displayed to customers in a locked storage room with controlled access available to only authorized staff. This room must be constructed in a specific way – i.e. with Flattened Metal Mesh of EMMA 557-99 style with a diamond opening of 0.563”x1.688” and nominal strand thickness of 0.120”.
You must also mount steel or steel mesh on the outside of the room in accordance with AGLC requirements – i.e. support all edges with anti-spread bracing, align sheet edges at all seams and reinforce sheets with screws.
You must have 24/7 visual monitoring in place through the integration of a digital closed-circuit television (CCTV) system. The AGLC requires that the CCTV cameras be placed in a way that enables them to clearly capture footage in the following areas: point-of-sale, receiving, the main floor or customer area; and the secured cannabis storage room.
CCTV is also your sole means of maintaining a visual monitoring presence outside of store hours, especially at night and during holidays.
The camera quality and area lighting must be sufficient enough to clearly identify all persons who had entered or exited your store. This includes employee-only areas, which helps deter internal theft.
You must maintain a minimum of 60 days worth of footage on-premise and submit that footage to the AGLC or law-enforcement when requested. The footage must be in a common/readable format with the capacity for generating real-time digital colour video and still images.
Solutions such as VERI-F-EYE are essential. VERI-F-EYE integrates CCTV to your intrusion detection system, enabling law-enforcement to better prepare for responding to break-ins at your dispensary while also guaranteeing that you have a video recording of the incident.
In addition to installing a CCTV surveillance system, your dispensary is required to test every camera and its recording equipment on a weekly basis. You must keep a record of the results, which the AGLC has the right to request. CCTV equipment must be functioning at all times.
Your marijuana dispensary security system must thwart threats at all times, especially outside of your store hours where no one will be present. The intrusion detection system must include an alarm system that detects unauthorized access or attempts (including tampering) of all secured entry points, your customer door and your cannabis storage room.
In case of a break-in or attempted break-in, you must get your intrusion detection system immediately repaired.
|Securing your business means more than access control. Learn more with these blogs:
You’re also required to pair your intrusion detection system with a law-enforcement response system. This includes a panic/help-button at the point-of-sale area for employees in case of a robbery or another threat. However, it’s best practice to ensure that your alarm also triggers a response from the police, which could be your first-respondents during nighttime break-ins.
You’re required by law (AGLC) to secure your entry/exit points, customer entrance and access to your cannabis supply room with access controls. This includes installing swipe cards and/or passkeys.
You’re not permitted to have a ‘master key’ that enables total access with a single code or card. In addition, your senior security officer must change your dispensary’s passkeys on a regular basis to protect against inadvertent or intentional leaks.
Modern access control systems enable you to protect your dispensary from typical retail issues, such as employee turnover (e.g. you can delete an ex-employee’s passkey).
Guaranteeing Employee Safety
The ACMPR requires licensed producers to submit background security checks and fingerprints of every key individual involved in the business.
It would be a smart decision for dispensaries to also conduct background checks of their employees, thus protecting themselves from risks such as internal theft or linkage to the illegal marijuana trade and other criminal activity. In addition, it also protects your employees and customers.
Detailed Security SOPs
Given how your dispensary security plan involves many complex systems – including technology for visual monitoring, access control and intrusion detection – and many processes detailing the use of those systems, it’s imperative to have standard operating procedures (SOP).
SOPs enable your employees to properly implement your security plan, ensuring that your risks are properly addressed on a daily basis with minimal exposure to mistakes or negligence.
This is all the more important in times of crises, such as break-ins or robberies, wherein your employees will need to tread carefully to diffuse the threat. Your management may need to cooperate with law-enforcement and/or insurance providers as well. In each of these situations, SOPs are essential in providing clarity and guidance to your staff.
The law and the security realities of a marijuana dispensary require the involvement of a professional security company in your dispensary security plan.
Identify and Deploy Security Necessities to Keep Your Business Compliant
Avoid fees and unforeseen costs when you work with Canada’s premier security company.Right from the onset you need experts to properly identify all of your security requirements and connect you with systems that function to a high-standard – with no failure and strong resistance to tampering – while readily satisfying all regulatory requirements.
Whether you own a single dispensary or a chain of stores, a professional security company will provide you with essential services. These include active monitoring of your CCTV feed during high-risk periods as well as maintaining and even repairing your systems when required.
A professional dispensary security plan – supported by a professional security company – will also demonstrate that you’ve taken all necessary steps to mitigate risk, enabling you to adhere to industry standards for insurance and seeking protection in case of a crisis.
Correctly implementing a security plan the first time will shield you from the costs of poor and non-compliant implementation, which can result in the loss of your license, theft of goods and harm to your employees and customers.
Are you looking to get a concrete start on designing your dispensary security plan? Then contact us at Logixx to leverage our 25+ year experience in professionally implementing security systems for an array of complex industries.
The legalization of recreational marijuana presents a major business opportunity. Ontario cannabis stores will officially attain legal status in 2019, with 25 licenses available in Ontario
Despite the transition of recreational marijuana sales to legal status, there are still risks tied to running a marijuana dispensary. These risks are due to the lingering association of marijuana with organized crime, and to the patchy rollout of legislation.
These risks to your marijuana dispensary present themselves in two ways:
- Your marijuana dispensary could become a target of criminal threats, both external and internal.
- Beyond the world of crime, there are still regulatory issues to consider in each province, including Ontario.
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1. External Threats
Marijuana dispensaries are a frequent target of robberies and break-ins.
The threat of robberies and break-ins varies based on where you’re located — even within Toronto. If your dispensary is located in Aurora Ontario, for example, the threat environment might be different than in the GTA, which has seen the homicide rate rise in recent years.
As with most properties, the variability of crime rates per location may affect your insurance levels and your cost of operations.
Beyond the loss of assets, robberies are a common external threat to guard against: the high value of your product makes your dispensary more vulnerable.
Robberies can put the lives of your employees and customers at risk. Though your employees might intervene successfully, there’s no reason to put them in that position in the first place.
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You cannot be at the store all the time, and break-ins are another threat.
Be aware of recurring suspicious activity: are there one or more individuals lingering outside the store for long periods of time, for days at a time? They could be planning a break-in.
Even if a break-in is unsuccessful, they are costly, and can encourage other perpetrators to try it again.
A perpetrator can, for example, try to force the door open, or attempt to throw a nearby heavy object like a brick through a window. Even a botched break-in threatens damage to both your investment and your inventory.
2. Internal Threats
Have you heard the maxim ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?’
Sometimes a business might hire an employee who poses an internal threat. A background check is important when hiring each employee, but in terms of security, it is just a first step.
Cannabis retailers have expressed mixed feelings about bringing people into the legal cannabis industry who have previously been involved in the illicit market. We don’t mean to trigger paranoia: internal crime is a problem in retail as a whole.
Unfortunately, an employee who wishes to rob your dispensary would have strong retail knowledge and awareness of the weaknesses of the retail space — stronger certainly than that of external criminals.
Robbery can also happen at the point of sale area: an employee could steal money from the employer through writing fraudulent checks or simply taking cash from the register.
While you’re likely to weed out all of the questionable candidates and make stellar hires across the board, do not take any risks with your high-value inventory.
3. Regulatory Issues
The Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) confers provinces the right to shape their marijuana markets, and this has resulted in a piecemeal implementation of legality in Ontario.
As it stands, until 2019, licenses for marijuana dispensaries have been capped at 25 licenses.
Though Bill C-45 is in effect, the legal situation is still in transition; if you run an existing or pre-legal marijuana dispensary in Canada, ensure your business closely follows your provincial laws.
Similarly, in order to qualify for a dispensary license, all new marijuana stores must abide by provincial rules. For example, Alberta’s AGLC stipulates that all new stores install a storage room with a steel door, visual monitoring, access control, intrusion detection with an alarm to alert law enforcement. These rules are designed to protect inventory and discourage crime.
Solutions: protecting your dispensary
How to protect your dispensary from external threats
Invest in a credible 24/7 visual monitoring system via CCTV for the perimeter of your store. A camera trained on the parking lot can catch the license plate of a robber, or at the front of the store, keeping track of, for example, people who linger in front of the store more often than usual.
From the comfort of your home, you can keep your eye on the area around your store for suspicious activity, to catch early warning signs of robbery and give law enforcement a head start. And even if you are not available, intrusion detection and alarms can alert law enforcement to come promptly too.
These systems can benefit your business beyond safety: for example, video surveillance can raise ROI by providing business process improvement, helping you manage your business more effectively.
Stop Wondering if Your Business Is Secure
Assess your readiness with this handy guideHow to protect your dispensary from internal threats
Your inventory is your prime investment, and given its particularly high value, you could be at elevated risk of internal threats. Make sure your marijuana dispensary is protected.
Keep a watchful eye by also installing CCTV-based visual monitoring in the inventory room, point-of-sale area, entrance and exit doors, and any other parts of the store you suspect will be vulnerable. This way you can keep track of employee activity and movement in the storage room.
In case of fraudulent transactions, such as false refunds, keep your CCTV primed on your point of sale area. Because of their awareness of the monitoring system in place, it helps discourage employees from committing future crimes, too.
Consider installing access controls (such as keycards, mobile access or biometric identification), which will restrict access to the inventory itself to only a trusted few. You can even install dual authentication processes for further enhanced security and make it harder for criminals to access your inventory.
You can pair a monitoring system with an incident response system that immediately alerts law enforcement to break-ins.
Whether you are protecting your high-value inventory from a criminal breach or ensuring your time spent applying for a license is not wasted, it pays to be protected.
At Logixx, we’ll help you overcome security-related requirements across each of the three areas discussed in this article: provincial regulations, compliance, and physical security.
In terms of physical security, we’ll leverage our experience helping marijuana producers to help you design, install and maintain a robust physical security system.
With our professional help, you’ll meet every provincial compliance requirement for licensing and safeguard your investment against regulator fines and criminals.
Contact us today to get started.
Marijuana legalization nearing in Canada. In fact, it could occur this summer should the Senate pass Bill C-45 and Bill C-46. As such, it’s not surprising that many are searching for promising investment and business opportunities in the marijuana dispensary space.
It’s natural then to ask, “how do I get certified as a marijuana dispensary in Canada?”
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple, nor is it set in stone. Because marijuana legalization in Canada (at least for recreational sales and consumption) is going to be a recent shift, the policy and regulatory landscape for the issue is largely restrictive and tentative.
If you’re planning to enter the marijuana dispensary market in the near-term, then you’re limited to operating in just Alberta and British Columbia (BC). However, to enter either market, you’ll need to abide by strict security compliance requirements to just qualify as an applicant.
But we’re in the early days of a legal marijuana market, so it would be prudent to use today’s lessons to stage for growth in the future should other provinces open their markets up.
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Landscape of Dispensary Laws in Canada
Before Bill C-45, the only legal marijuana market in Canada was that of medical marijuana. This was – and currently, still is – a strictly regulated market. The only ones permitted to sell marijuana were specially licensed marijuana producers. Dispensaries in most jurisdictions weren’t legal.
Medical marijuana producers must abide by strict federally-set security conditions defined under Subdivision C of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, promises to legalize the recreational sale and use of marijuana throughout Canada. Currently, Bill C-45 is expected to become law in 2018, maybe as soon as the summer should the Senate pass the bill.
However, the federal government has opted to leave the forming of marijuana markets to the provinces. In other words, the provinces maintain the right to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana in their respective jurisdictions. As of December 2017, each of Canada’s provinces has opted to maintain some measure of control over their marijuana markets.
Currently, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia and the Yukon are only allowing recreational cannabis sales through their respective government-owned commissions, distributors or retailers.
On the other hand, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories are permitting privately-owned marijuana dispensaries. However, each province is maintaining strict regulations for prospective retail license-holders to follow, especially in terms of security.
How to Follow Dispensary Regulations in Alberta
Though Alberta will manage the online sale of cannabis through provincially-owned sellers, it’ll permit private retailers for over-the-counter sales. These retailers are not permitted to sell other restricted items – such as alcohol, tobacco and/or pharmaceuticals. In other words, marijuana retailers in Alberta can only sell cannabis or cannabis-related products.
Currently, Alberta will only issue 250 retail-licenses to privately-owned marijuana dispensaries in the first year of Canada’s legal marijuana market. To qualify for a marijuana retail license, you’ll be required to adhere to the rules set by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).
This will involve going through background checks, paying fees, getting municipal approvals and registering with the province as a cannabis-only retail business.
The AGLC also requires prospective marijuana dispensaries to implement a series of specific security safeguards at their retail site. From the onset, the AGLC requires that your dispensary’s security system be designed and installed by a professional security systems provider.
A cursory look at the AGLC’s requirements shows that Alberta’s security requirements for legal marijuana dispensaries are no less in sophistication than those Health Canada applied on legal medical marijuana producers under the ACMPR. This shows us that the ACMPR is being seen as a roadmap for at least one province and, in time, this template could be seen in other parts of Canada should other provinces follow-suit.
Today, properly adhering to the AGLC’s requirements will favourably position you for securing one of those scarce marijuana dispensary licenses. In the future, you might be well-positioned (with the experience of executing a solid security plan) to expand to other provinces.
To implement the AGLC’s security requirements, you must implement the following:
You must get your marijuana dispensary’s storefront site examined for potential risks. This can involve seeing the risk-level of your area based on its crime history and/or the store layout. For example, if your retail site is in a mall or plaza, you will not have control over every exit and flow of people and vehicles in the area. This must be accounted for when designing a security plan.
This involves installing obstacles between your marijuana inventory and potential threats. The idea is to control access to your store and its goods by securing entry and exit points along with the cannabis storage room.
Your marijuana dispensary must have 24/7 visual monitoring in place with a digital closed-circuit television (CCTV) system. The CCTV must capture footage from your store’s point-of-sale area, receiving and shipping zone, the customer area and the cannabis inventory room.
The AGLC requires marijuana dispensaries to install intrusion detection systems to monitor, detect and alert you of unauthorized access of every secure entry point. Your retail site also requires a panic or help-button at the point-of-sale area to alert law-enforcement.
You must also secure your entry/exit points, customer entrance and marijuana inventory room with access controls such as swipe cards and/or passkeys. You cannot have a ‘master key’ for total access to the dispensary.
We’ve discussed each of these areas in greater technical detail in an earlier article outlining the best practices of a Marijuana Security System.
Contact Logixx to Design a Strong and Fully Compliant Dispensary Security Plan for Your Alberta Dispensary License Application
B.C. is Still Shaping its Dispensary Licensing Requirements
British Columbia’s (BC) Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) will enable prospective marijuana dispensary owners to apply for a legal retail license. As of this article’s writing, the LCLB has yet to release its specific demands of prospective applicants. However, a security system comparable to the one defined by the AGLC should be expected.
Currently, Ontario will only permit the sale of recreational marijuana through provincially-owned stores under the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). In other words, there are no licenses available for private marijuana dispensaries. However, the issue is contested, with at least the province’s largest opposition party calling for a freer marketplace.
Such legislative chances are plausible, not just in Ontario but in other Canadian provinces as well. Granted, the only places where you can start with opening a legal marijuana dispensary are in Alberta and BC, but fulfilling their respective security requirements and gaining licenses will position you favourably for adjusting to new legislation in other provinces.
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Security is a Good Idea
Besides fulfilling your regulatory requirements, implement security best practices to protect your marijuana dispensary will also help in protecting your investment. First, it deters criminal activity from your dispensary, be it internally (e.g. employee-theft) or externally (e.g. robbery). Second, security best practices will also strengthen your case for favourable insurance coverage.
It’s essential to get the correct start with your marijuana dispensary application. Seeing that the AGLC requires you to implement a professionally designed and installed security plan, consider engaging a professional security company right away. Logixx offers over 47 years of experience in this area, including expertise implementing compliant security systems for Canadian medical marijuana producers. Contact us today to get started.
Every pharmaceutical laboratory is a high-value asset. Not only does establishing one require a large capital investment up front and through the long-term for maintenance and upgrades, but in pharma, your lab is the home to commercially valuable research and intellectual property (IP).
Thus, you have every incentive to ensure that your pharmaceutical laboratory is protected from its main threats, such as pilfering, robbery, or sabotage.
This guide is certainly your start, but don’t limit your focus with just commercial considerations. Securing your lab is both a good idea and a legal requirement.
Is Your Lab Really Secure?
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Securing Your Pharmaceutical Lab is a Compliance Requirement
If your pharmaceutical lab is handling controlled substances (such as experimental drugs and virus samples), it must follow Health Canada’s Directive on Physical Security Requirements for Controlled Substances (Directive).
The Directive affects “all licensed dealers, manufacturing or distributing controlled substances as well as for research scientists and analytical laboratories.”
Thus, every pharmaceutical lab in Canada must adhere to the Directive. Not doing so will put you at risk of incurring costly penalties by regulators, at the minimum. However, when it comes to complying with regulations, especially in terms of security, there are multiple routes.
Selecting the right route depends on a number of factors, such as the size of your facility, where it’s located, your leading threats, and others. You will get a better feel of evaluating how each of these is relevant to your pharmaceutical laboratory by using the guide below.
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Security Best Practices for Pharmaceutical Laboratories
Overall, it’s important to remember that there is no one specific way of securing your lab. In fact, while Health Canada has defined the baseline in terms of essential capabilities (discussed here) it prefers ‘diversity’ in terms of how each lab implements its security.
Because the knowledge a criminal uses on one company cannot be implemented at another as the latter is using a different security system with different concepts, technology, and vendors. In terms of how you can design a system that adheres to best practices, see below.
In order to select the security systems that best align with your needs, you must select the right security concept. Health Canada has defined four — which we’ve outlined below — concepts you should consider, each with its own advantages, obstacles, and drawbacks.
The observation concept emphasizes deterrence by placing your valuable assets (e.g., your lab equipment) in a place where it’s “under continual or casual observation.”
For example, lab testing is done in rooms with glass walls or you have a window overlooking the storage area or shipping and receiving area. The idea with observation is to dissuade malicious activity by denying the perpetrator an opportunity to act without anyone noticing.
In a split target approach, you are storing your assets in multiple secured areas instead of just one secured area. The idea is to make it difficult for the perpetrator to complete their objective by placing what they want in two (or more) equally well-protected areas.
For example, you could have certain drugs, chemicals, or other assets in one side of the lab and other ones at the other end. In case one area is compromised, you could still save the other one — or dissuade the perpetrator entirely by making the difficulty outweigh the benefit.
If You Can’t See the Threat…
…how do you protect your pharma lab investment from it?
This is the opposite of the split target approach. With the combined targets concept, you would place all of your assets in one secure area. Controlling cost is a major driver for this concept.
Rings of Protection
In this concept, your goal is to establish multiple barriers — or ‘rings’ — around the asset. These rings will serve as obstacles for the perpetrator.
In addition to making theft or sabotage a much more difficult process, the rings could also be a psychological deterrence by making the difficulty of breaching the system outweigh the benefit of stealing or damaging the asset.
You could implement this by having multiple layers of locked doors around the asset, and then have the asset itself stored in a vault with its own locks. In addition, you could also have visual monitoring via CCTV and an intrusion detection system to tip you off of attempted tampering.
Selecting the Right Concept
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. You must select the concept that properly protects your specific assets, and that too within your budget. For example, you might not be able to employ the split target concept if you cannot afford to construct multiple storage areas for your assets.
You can determine the appropriate concept for your needs by conducting a risk analysis:
Conduct a Risk Analysis
The factors below should feed into risk analysis. You must determine the consequence of an event, such as the theft of drugs or research IP, to not only your business but society as well.
In terms of your business, the theft of assets (or damage to them) will add to your costs, but it may also cause you to lose sales. In some cases, your laboratory might also be under scrutiny by regulators, which in turn could leave with compliance fines and/or the loss of credibility.
Your risk analysis should examine the following:
You must determine exactly where your threats will come from (and by whom). Are your drugs or ingredients a prime target for theft by organized crime? Are your R&D and IP assets targets for espionage? Would someone have the incentive to sabotage your testing facilities?
You will need to consider this because if you anticipate espionage to be an issue, then you will need to invest in your internal security measures, such as access controls.
On the other hand, if you are concerned about theft via burglary, then you should integrate an intrusion detection system with visual monitoring and access controls.
Illicit Market Value of Substances
Determine the illicit market value of your controlled substances. Health Canada listed estimates on its website. The more valuable your substances are to criminal organizations, the more you will need to invest in your pharmaceutical lab’s security system.
Health/Safety Risks of Substances
Some controlled substances can be a health risk if exposed to the public. This is a major priority for the government and a security breach involving these substances could put your pharmaceutical lab in the spotlight of regulators. Not only could this damage your reputation in the industry, but it may leave you with costly fines and legal problems.
Some geographic locations are higher risk than others. For example, if your lab is located in an area with a strong drug subculture, then you could be in proximity to organized criminals. This would leave your facility as a high-value target for these criminals.
While there can be differences in how each pharmaceutical lab designs and employs its security system, there are systems you will need regardless of the concept you employ.
For example, as noted above, you will need access control systems (e.g., locks on doors) for protecting against both external and internal theft. Likewise, each of the concepts above will employ access control, intrusion detection and visual monitoring.
The variances are not necessarily in the systems themselves, but in how you implement them. For example, you will need to invest in more of those systems in order to design a split target security system. You would also need multiple access control systems for rings of protection.
You must secure the perimeter of your facility. Your objective here should be to restrict access to your facility to only trusted parties, such as employees and suppliers. This can involve setting-up barriers, such as gates, fencing, and/or walls, to limit how people can enter your facility.
Your perimeter security system should be paired with an intrusion detection system. This system will sound-off an alarm in case someone breaches the perimeter — as well as other areas where you have an intrusion detection system installed — or tries tampering with the system.
In tandem, consider installing a system that alerts law-enforcement as soon as someone sets off your alarm system. This will enable the police to be your first-responders, especially in off-hours, such as weekends, holidays, or overnight.
What Good Is A CCTV System?
Not much, if nobody’s monitoring the footage in real-time
You need visual monitoring to maintain around-the-clock surveillance of your facility, particularly areas vulnerable to potential breaches, such as the storage room or shipping and receiving.
You can implement visual monitoring through a 24/7 closed-circuit television (CCTV) system. By installing CCTV cameras to every critical area in your facility. Not only will it monitor those areas, but their presence may help deter would-be perpetrators from acting.
Your CCTV should also be able to record and save footage. In case of a security incident, law -enforcement agencies may request that footage as part of their investigation.
In terms of access control, you could employ a combination of systems. For example, you could have security personnel at the entrance of your facility or in the shipping and receiving area.
Inside your facility, you need systems to restrict who has access to your controlled substances and sensitive assets. This can be done by installing doors with locks that only open in response to the right key card, passkey, or biometric signature.
In case of a potential leak or employee leaving, you should also have a policy in place to quickly change keycodes or revoke access from certain individuals.
Get a Professional Security Company to Help
We can only cover so much in a blog. In reality, to sufficiently understand the security needs of your pharmaceutical lab, you need security experts on-site to examine your facility and to draw on their experience to suggest the right solutions.
Besides ensuring that you have the right security systems installed, a professional security firm will also be your asset. Some leverage partnerships with the security OEMs, which equips them with proven expertise in integrating different equipment (such as CCTV, alarm monitoring, etc) into a cohesive, fully-functioning security system.
Logixx Security brings well over 47 years of experience supporting pharmaceutical labs and companies with designing, implementing, and maintaining security systems.
Our efforts have helped some of the pharmaceutical industry’s leading brands guard their costly investments and devote their energies to boosting profit, not recovering from theft and damage.
Let’s talk about how we can bring you up-to-par as well.
In Bill C-45, the Canadian federal government inserted provisions allowing for the establishment of ‘micro-cultivators’. Like microbreweries, small or independently-owned businesses can legally grow marijuana as a “craft” product.
The idea behind micro-cultivation is to help boost the supply of marijuana in the market, draw on the more innovative capacities of smaller producers, and lower barriers-to-entry to the marijuana market (i.e., lower the incentive to distribute in the black market and encourage competition).
By applying for a micro-processing license, micro-cultivators can package or process up to 600 kg a year in marijuana goods as well. However, micro-cultivators can only sell their products to businesses licensed (under provincial or territorial laws) to sell marijuana to consumers.
As you can see, while the requirements to get a micro-cultivation license are less onerous than a standard one, it is also more restrictive in a number of areas.
Cannabis Micro-Cultivation Licenses versus Standard Licenses
Plant Surface Area
The plant surface grown by micro-cultivators must not exceed 200m2 (2,152 ft2). This growth restriction includes vertically stacked or arranged surfaces. There are no growth restrictions for standard license holders. However, both can cultivate indoors and/or outdoors.
Micro-cultivators are only permitted to have one license per unique address. However, larger facilities spanning multiple address areas could have a license attached to each facility (e.g., production site, warehouse, etc).
Micro-cultivators may only sell their products to the following:
- Third-party marijuana dispensaries/retailers
- Provincial distributors (but only for fresh or live plants and seeds)
- Those licensed to process marijuana goods
- Medical patients (provided they have a document from a healthcare practitioner)
Pass Health Canada’s Micro-Cultivator Security
Requirements on the First Attempt
Yes, a micro-cultivation license is easier to acquire than a standard license, but that doesn’t mean the process is easy or trivial in of itself. Similar to marijuana dispensaries and pre-Bill C-45 medical marijuana producers, Health Canada has stringent rules for micro-cultivators.
In your application to Health Canada, you must provide complete details about your proposed cultivation facility. These details include the floor plan, site location, physical security plan, risk management strategies, corporate structure, and other information.
The Security Requirements for a Micro-Cultivation License in Canada
As with marijuana dispensaries and large marijuana producers, security is a critical component of gaining and maintaining your micro-cultivation license in Canada.
Compared to standard license holders, micro-cultivation license holders do have fewer security requirements. For example, micro-cultivators aren’t required to have 24/7 visual monitoring and intrusion detection systems. However, there are other physical security requirements:
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Site Design & Physical Barriers
Micro-cultivators must provide Health Canada with a site design showing how they will prevent any and all unauthorized access to your production facilities.
To achieve this requirement, you must show plans for a physical barrier covering the perimeter of your facility. Health Canada wants to see how you will implement that barrier. You must also highlight all entry and exit points, including doors, windows, vents, etc.
Like the overall facility, your operations and storage areas must also have physical barriers (with the above-noted information provided to Health Canada).
You must also restrict access to your storage areas with access control systems.
This means placing secure locks on the doors to the areas where you’re storing marijuana products and, in turn, limiting access to only vetted staff.
Health Canada requires information on the following: “details on the types, specifications, and locations of access control mechanisms installed and operating clearly marked and labelled with unique identifiers on security floor plans.”
Best Practices: Visual Monitoring & Intrusion Detection
Although micro-cultivators are not required to have the following security systems in place, they are industry best practices. Ultimately, micro-cultivation is an inherently resource-intensive and time-consuming investment, it deserves the maximum possible protection.
Thus, we recommend that you install the following optional security systems.
With a CCTV system, you can monitor every critical area of your facility 24/7. In addition, you can also capture and save recordings, which you can provide to law-enforcement following an incident (and aid with their investigation).
An intrusion detection system will detect unauthorized entry or access to your facility as well as attempted tampering of your system. You can pair this with an incident response system where as soon as a break-in is detected, you can alert law-enforcement to respond.
Although these are not currently required by Health Canada, it would be best practice for micro -cultivators to follow the rigid security requirements of standard license holders.
Firstly, while not a multi-million-dollar venture, micro-cultivation is still a massive investment in its own right. The combined cost of leasing facilities and procuring equipment could require an investment of $100,000 to $250,000 (or more).
Secondly, with time, you will also begin storing a valuable, high-demand product, thus raising the value of what you could lose due to a breach.
Lastly, given how marijuana legalization is new, the regulatory environment could change and, potentially, stricter security requirements could come into force later. Why not be prepared?
Logixx brings over 47 years of experience to the table as a proven security systems integrator and consultant. We’ve helped the leading brands in many complex industries, including health and pharmaceuticals, keep their assets — and costly investments — secure from theft.
Contact us today to see how we can help you meet and exceed Health Canada’s physical security requirements for micro-cultivators.
Recently, Toronto medical marijuana dispensaries have seen some recent legal activity that spawned a lot of questions. The legality of running a dispensary, firstly, but also of the steps that a dispensary must take to ensure that they are compliant with current marijuana for medical purposes regulations.
The Medical Marijuana Legal Grey Area
There’s currently new legislation due in August, bills need to be written and voted on before marijuana is legal throughout the country. However, the soonest legislation will be targeted to medical marijuana users — a factor that some of the Toronto dispensaries are subverting.
While we’re waiting for a new recreational use bill to come out next spring, it’s imperative that your shops are compliant with current laws by catering to medical marijuana users.
While we wait for the recreational use bill, those planning on investing in a dispensary also need to consider their security procedures and systems to ensure that they are running an operation that is protected from risk.
Marijuana policies have been confusing and rather lax as of late. The current licensed system enables users with a prescription to send away for their medical marijuana from one of 31 licensed producers.
Patients and customers alike, however, prefer the knowledgeable and interactive storefront experience. Being able to walk into a shop and get not only your prescription, but also weed-infused candy or baked goods makes it easy for anyone without a prescription to recreationally partake.
So, in late May, Toronto police initiated ‘Project Claudia,’ a raid on 43 dispensaries that resulted in 90 arrests and 200 charges — 71 of those criminal. The exact charges were possession for the purpose of trafficking,
With over 26,000 patients authorized to possess cannabis under Canada’s Marijuana Medical Access Program (MMAP), access has become a key trigger in the continued fight for retail medical marijuana facilities.
What Can You Do?
While there is considerable public support for the medical use of cannabis, and the tolerance level for recreational use in the City of Toronto has been, in the past, relatively low, the reality is that your dispensary needs to operate as above board as possible in order to remain as within the law as possible.
Storefront locations, or Compassion Clubs, have been in operation since the early 1990’s. Operating as not-for-profits, these locations are often seen as a community or sorts for those who have acquired the once fabled medical marijuana license.
Dispensaries, on the other hand, have popped up only recently, yet extensively throughout the country — and number over 100 in Toronto alone.
The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries created marijuana for medical purposes regulations and certifications that clearly lays out the responsibilities required of you when dispensing cannabis for medical purposes. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Ensuring that the patient is the person stated on the prescription
- Collecting patient registration information as health intake forms
- Providing education on the side effects and symptoms of particular strains
- Offering support to maximize benefits and reduce harms, while tracking side-effects
Specialized Security Measures Your Dispensary Could Implement
Your dispensary needs efficient security measures and operational procedures to keep you above board.
Protect Your Business with Regulatory Compliance
Avoid regulatory fines with support from Canada’s premier security company.New security and surveillance technologies can aid in your acknowledgement of patients and prevent unauthorized access.
As a registered member of your dispensary, your patients should be recognizable upon every visit.
Biometric recognition through video surveillance equipment is an incredible way to recognize your visitors, and pull up their patient file as soon as they walk in the door.
Enhanced intrusion alerts clearly warn you when someone has accessed an unauthorized area. Whether that’s from a back door entrance, or if they’ve walked through to the storage area. Theft in medical marijuana dispensaries is a huge concern because of the value of the product on the street.
Also consider opportunistic thieves as you’re conducting their in-patient forms. It’s not uncommon for dispensaries to be victims of theft, In 2009 16.8% of Colorado dispensaries were robbed.
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24-hour monitoring is necessary to protect your high-value products. When you’ve locked up the doors and gone home, that’s when the security of your facility is at greatest risk. A properly designed security system will ensure that your assets are being monitored and that you’re notified immediately should an intrusion, fire, or flood put your product at risk.
The security needs of dispensaries is a relatively new field that needs to be trusted with a company that has extensive knowledge in physical security and how it can be adjusted to suit your specific needs.
On top of physical security, our team of specialists at Logixx can make sure that your team is doing everything as lawfully as possible to prevent your dispensary from becoming victim to physical or legal threat.
As the medical marijuana industry changes rapidly, so do the needs of your dispensary. Get in touch with the experts at Logixx to ensure that your future is secure.
Contact Logixx Security today to keep your business in compliance with the latest regulations.
Bill C-45 — i.e., the Cannabis Act — is in effect and, as a result, the sale, possession, and use of recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada. It’s a significant change, and it’s being felt across a number of fronts, especially in the economy.
Statistics Canada found that Canadians spent a total of $5.6 billion on marijuana in 2017. With legalization, the market is poised to grow to $6.5 billion by 2020 (source: Bloomberg). Likewise, Canada spent $5.1 billion on spirits and $9.2 billion on beer in 2017.
The economic potential is amazing, and, as expected, you and many others are looking at how you could tap into it. But be warned: entering the legal marijuana market isn’t straightforward for producers and retailers alike, though the situation appears to be more fluid for the latter.
Is Your Cannabis Store Secure?
Obvious security gaps most people forget about
If you’re hoping or planning to open your own marijuana dispensary, then you need to be aware of and overcome these 3 obstacles:
1. Licensing Requirements for New Cannabis Stores
Passed on June 21, 2018, and in effect since October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act has made the use, sale, and production of recreational marijuana legal throughout Canada. Regulations about marijuana production are handled federally through Health Canada; however, Ottawa has left it to the provinces to sort out the sale and distribution side of the equation.
As you will see below, the provinces are governing marijuana sale and distribution differently. It’s a fluid situation, but you must be aware of a few key factors.
First, not every province is allowing private retailers to sell marijuana: Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island opted to allow only provincially-owned entities to sell marijuana.
Requirements in Provinces Allowing Private Dispensaries
In the provinces that are allowing private retailers or dispensaries to operate, you must acquire a license from the host government. The processes involved in (and the likelihood of) successfully acquiring a license also vary between provinces.
That said, there are also a number of common factors, namely formal application processes (including non-refundable fees, annual licensing fee, and deposits), the need for criminal and, potentially, financial background checks (for more see the section below).
British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) handles the release of retail licenses in the province. Currently, there is no limit on the number of retail dispensaries that can operate in BC, but each license holder can only own 8 stores in the province.
Retail applications must be submitted to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). Originally, the AGLC did not intend to place a hard cap on the number of cannabis stores that can open in the province; it has currently suspended the application process so as to cater to the lack of marijuana supply in the province. Otherwise, the process takes 2-4 months.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) handles dispensary licensing. The province currently has 51 retail licenses available. In order to get one, you must submit your application to the SLGA, which will then put you in a lottery. Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces that is allowing private retailers to sell marijuana online.
You must submit your dispensary license application to the Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA). Like Saskatchewan, Manitoba is allowing private retailers to sell marijuana in-store and online. Currently, the LGA is controlling the opening of new stores through a lottery system.
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Ontario is a prime example of fluid regulations. Originally, the province was going to limit both the online and in-store sale of marijuana through its provincially-owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). However, with a change in government, Ontario is now allowing private in-store retailers.
To receive a license you must submit your application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Due to the marijuana supply crunch, there are only 25 licenses available at this time (which Queen’s Park will grant via lottery). However, Ontario does not have a long-term cap on the number of retailers that can open in the province.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) is issuing licenses. Newfoundland and Labrador is taking a phased approach for letting private dispensaries open. Phase-One of this is already complete (with 24 retailers approved and set to open).
Interestingly, the province also has four dispensary tiers:
- Stand-Alone: stores that carry only marijuana and marijuana-related accessories.
- Store-Within-a-Store: an enclosed area within existing non-marijuana retail stores.
- Dedicated Service Desk & Cash-Counter: a low-key area within a bigger retail store.
- Behind the Counter: a shared space behind the counter in an existing retail store.
However, NLC is giving priority to stand-alone marijuana dispensary applications.
2. Common Compliance Requirements for Dispensaries
In the provinces where you can apply to get a marijuana store license, you will need to follow strict rules in a number of areas, especially:
- Zoning Restrictions (e.g., in Alberta and Ontario you cannot be within 100 m of a school).
- Marketing (e.g., marijuana products shouldn’t be visible through the store window)
- Store Design/Layout (e.g., your receiving area must be separate from other stores)
- Store Management (e.g., in Alberta, you cannot be open before 10 am or after 2 am).
The specific parameters (such as the minimum distance between stores and schools) will vary between provinces, but when applying, you must be prepared to cater to each requirement.
In most cases, you will be required to submit information about how you will (or have planned) to address these requirements at the application stage.
3. Cannabis Security Requirements for Private Retailers
Each of the provinces discussed above requires you to submit a detailed physical security plan for your proposed marijuana store. There are slight differences between each province (e.g., in Alberta, you must have CCTV recordings for 60 days, but 30 days in Ontario), but the baseline requirements are similar and include the following:
The Quick Basics of a Dispensary’s Security Plan
Perimeter Security System
You must ensure that your store’s ‘entry points’ (i.e., doors, windows, vents, etc) are sealed with high-strength doors. These must be paired with industry-standard, non-residential locks.
You must be able to restrict unauthorized access to your store and inventory. In order to achieve this, you will need to install access control at every layer of your store, not just on the perimeter (as stated earlier), but inside as well. For example, your inventory should only be accessible to vetted staff, not every employee (especially in the case of larger stores).
Intrusion Monitoring & Alarm System
You will not be on-site 24/7. In those off-times (e.g., at night, weekends, or holidays), you should have an active intrusion monitoring and alarm system. In the case of a burglary, your monitoring system will sound-off and alert law-enforcement. You must also have an alarm system in case of a robbery, i.e., equip your staff to alert law-enforcement with a press of a button.
Your store must be covered by a 24/7 CCTV network. The surveillance system must cover your point-of-sale area, receiving area, customer/sales area, and inventory room. You will also need to keep recordings of your footage; law-enforcement will need it in order to investigate incidents.
Storage Security Measures
You must store your marijuana inventory in vaults with commercial-grade locks. The technical specifications of your vault (e.g., the thickness of its walls) may vary between each province.
(Note: for a detailed overview of how to build a fully compliant and effective physical security system for your dispensary, see our article on the topic).
Besides compliance, physical security is also important from an investment standpoint. Be it the cost of establishing your marijuana retail store or the time and energy spent on getting licensed, you should protect your assets.
At Logixx Security, we’ll help you overcome security-related requirements across each of the three areas discussed in this article: provincial regulations, compliance, and physical security.
In terms of physical security, we’ll leverage our experience helping marijuana producers to help you design, install and maintain a robust physical security system.
With our professional help, you’ll meet every provincial compliance requirement for licensing and safeguard your investment against regulator fines and criminals.
In the United Kingdom, breaches in internal access control and other security measures have resulted in public exposure to a spate of harmful and contagious bacteria and viruses, including Shigella, the leading bacterial cause of dysentery.
It’s clear that contamination and/or leakage of controlled substances can be the cause of severe public health risks, including contagious disease. Granted, the lack of attention to safety is a key cause in such incidents, but unauthorized access to certain internal facilities (e.g. where harmful substances are kept) are a related factor.
If left unchecked, such security vulnerabilities can be the root-cause of not only extensive health risks, but if connected to your lab, the cause for government penalties (including closure) and a loss of reputation in the pharmaceutical industry.
Why the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act Matters
Pharmaceutical laboratories must adhere to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and, by extension, Health Canada’s Directive on Physical Security Requirements for Controlled Substances (Directive). As per Health Canada, the Directive applies “to all licensed dealers of controlled substances as well as to research scientists and analysis laboratories.”
The CDSA was introduced in 1996 to restrict access to certain substances – e.g. chemicals and drugs – to organizations that are specially authorized to manage and/or sell those substances. In order to acquire that authorization organizations – such as pharmaceutical labs – must adhere to clearly defined regulatory requirements, especially in the domain of physical security.
Avoid Frustration with Professionally Installed Security Systems
Deploy a tailor-made security system that protects against threats.These security requirements are outlined by Health Canada in the Directive. Health Canada had listed the necessary components of a viable lab security system, including visual monitoring and access control, among others.
To obtain and retain your right to manage controlled substances, your pharmaceutical lab must fulfill the Directive’s core objectives, which is to prevent breaches by deterring and, if necessary, aggressively addressing criminal activity.
Granted, the Directive’s security requirements are not easy to implement, but it’s important to also understand Health Canada’s perspective on the issue. Ottawa is restricting accessibility to certain substances because those substances pose an inherent risk to public health and safety.
Be it to mitigate the risk of contamination or driving criminal activity, controlled substances must be managed carefully and available to only those qualified and legally vetted to handle them. It’s certainly a sensible expectation for such materials.
However, not only is applying the Directive a necessity from a legal standpoint, but it’s vital from a profitability perspective as well. Breaches, especially those that result in the theft of controlled substances (which could include proprietary research), is incredibly costly.
Rather than going through an expensive recovery process, it is best to just prevent the risk of theft entirely by installing a professional security system at your facility.
Common Mistakes to Major Security Risks
Gaps in Visual Monitoring
Gaps in your visual monitoring systems are unacceptable. Vulnerabilities of this kind essentially leave you blind to the workings of your facility. This could either be a risk (by providing an area for illegal activity to occur) or be surplus capacity that you are paying for, but cannot use due to not having enough (or poor quality) closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems.
Visual monitoring is a critical piece to both deterring and investigating security incidents.
Firstly, by having CCTVs placed at every place where controlled substances are located and/or flow through (e.g. from shipping/receiving to the storage facility), you lower the incentive for illicit activity by having functional – and visible – CCTVs in place at every relevant location.
Secondly, should an incident occur, law-enforcement will request your CCTV footage. You must ensure that the footage is both recoverable and of high-enough quality.
Is Your Lab Correctly Applying its Security System?
We’ll identify and help you close gaps.
Inadequate Access Controls
The purpose of having access control systems – such as biometric authentication and key codes – is to restrict access to sensitive areas (e.g. substance storage areas) at your facility.
For example, you would not want an outsider or a staff member untrained in handling controlled substances to be exposed to harmful bacteria. Likewise, preventing access to such facilities will also protect your substances and other assets from external contamination, damage or theft.
Not only do access control measures shield you from non-compliance penalties, but they also enable you to protect your intellectual property (IP) from a range of threats.
For example, key codes can be reprogrammed immediately following the departure of an employee, thus ensuring that ex-employees are unable to access (and harm) your facility.
You could also have incorrectly applied access control processes, e.g. staff sharing their key codes or cards with another. It’s essential that you pair your system installation with complete training and standard-operating procedures (SOP) to ensure their correct implementation.
Finally, the extent of your access control requirements will also depend on the nature of your controlled substances. Health Canada has defined 11 security levels corresponding to what it deems as the potential risk of each substance.
Weak Intrusion Detection & Response Systems
Intruder detection and response systems are integral to a viable security system. Some might be satisfied with just having an alarm, but an alarm hardly has any impact if it is not augmented by a mechanism to alert law-enforcement to the scene.
A functioning intrusion detection system is vital in periods where you will not have as many staff on-site at your lab. For example, holidays, weekends and overnight, i.e. periods where external crime is likelier to take place. This system is your first line of defence against such threats.
Supply Chain Complexity
In some cases, especially following mergers and acquisitions, pharmaceutical companies could be managing large and complex supply chains. For example, a company can have multiple labs between which controlled substances must be transported securely.
While in transit, your substances could be at elevated risk of theft, loss or unauthorized access.
Besides airtight SOPs outlining how to manage harmful material in such scenarios, you should use asset monitoring systems – such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips – to closely keep tabs on the cargo to ensure that it’s being handled in alignment with SOPs.
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The objective is to ensure that your logistics channel is complying with your security procedures while also having the means to identify and investigate irregularities.
The effectiveness of your security system is contingent on how well you have identified the risks posed to your pharmaceutical laboratory. This is a crucial part of the planning stage because it equips you with insights into the systems your lab needs to protect itself from its actual threats.
In fact, the vulnerabilities you have at your pharmaceutical lab are likely a result of incomplete design work and, prior to that, insufficient planning. The ones that are best equipped to identify and address security threats, especially less apparent ones, are those with many years of real -world experience designing security systems in the pharmaceutical industry.
Correctly Scope Your Requirements
Health Canada defined 11 security levels regarding controlled substances. You must start by correctly identifying your security level and design your security system accordingly.
Undertake a Thorough Risk Analysis
The risks posed to your lab depend on the controlled substances it’s managing, its location and operational realities (e.g. does it have a complex supply or logistics channel?). It would take an experienced security systems design and installation company to fully uncover these threats as well as select the right systems to appropriately protect your lab.
Identify and Resolve Security Weaknesses
Get a Professionally Designed Security System
Once you have determined the scope of your security requirements and the risks posed to your laboratory, you will need to install your security system.
There is more to this stage than simply installing new hardware; rather, it involves installation, testing, certification and training to verify that the system is fully functional. In case of failure, a contingency plan involving redundancies and repairing your primary system must be in place.
It’s clear that the input of a professional security company is practically required for each stage of this process. Be it identifying your actual security requirements to properly implementing the solution (including the technical installation side), you need industry expertise and partnerships with system vendors on your side.
There is no better way to equip your lab so that its security is compliant with Health Canada’s Directive and fortified against all threats.
Logixx Security leverages more than 47 years of real-world experience in supporting pharmaceutical labs with their complex security requirements.
Our experience provides us with a wealth of expertise to identify the threats your lab faces and, in turn, shield your lab using fully compliant and first-in-class solutions from the top vendors, including Honeywell, S2 Security and others.
Contact us today to discuss how we can spot and close your pharmaceutical lab’s security gaps.
Be it robberies, break-and-enter, or internal theft, it’s evident that clear video surveillance of your marijuana dispensary is a critical factor to both identifying and deterring potential culprits.
In fact, at this stage, a networked security camera system is all but essential for cannabis stores — it’s both a prudent security decision and a regulatory requirement.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into both of these key points. We’ll also explain how a professional should install and configure your dispensary security camera system so that it protects your dispensary from external and internal threats alike.
Why a Dispensary Security Camera is Necessary
So, why is installing a dispensary security camera system a must?
1. It’s a regulatory requirement.
Dispensary security cameras are a regulatory requirement in the provinces where privately-owned marijuana stores have been given license to operate.
Don’t Get Frustrated with Security Compliance
Collaborate with a security team and begin the journey toward compliance.For example, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) says, “A retail cannabis store must have a digital security camera system.”
Likewise, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) states, “A secure, high-resolution surveillance system must be in place at all times.”
In fact, the AGLC and AGCO will not issue a store license until you provide proof that your store has a digital security camera system installed. In other words, you must incorporate this as part of your initial planning and well ahead of submitting your store application.
2. It will protect your investment.
Opening a cannabis store is a significant investment. You’re looking at a starting cost of $10,000 just to apply and obtain the license. If you factor in the cost of leasing property, hiring staff, renovating, and buying the product, your total investment costs could be north of $100K.
Moreover, with the supply of marijuana being as limited as it is today (and into the next several years), you have every incentive to protect your inventory from internal and external threats.
A professionally-installed camera system will help you identify culprits and deter would-be ones.
Don’t undermine the ‘professionally-installed’ part. You need your camera system to function reliably and without failure, for it to serve its intended role.
3. You will lower your risk.
A security camera system is also an indicator of wanting to reduce your risk. This could help you when it comes to getting insurance for your store.
Configure Your Security Cameras for Cannabis Dispensary Realities
So, we’ve established that a security camera system is a must, but how you configure and install it also matters. A professional installation job is essential. Ensure you meet these best practices:
1. Make sure your dispensary cameras work.
Regulators require you to enclose your cameras in the ceiling or in domes. Additionally, they must be linked to a monitor and on-site recording system. Your cameras must also work 24/7.
Your Camera System Must Meet Specific Requirementsto Get a Cannabis Store License
2. Place your cameras in the store correctly.
There are two parts to placing your cameras correctly.
First, the cameras must be able to clearly capture footage of all people entering and exiting the store as well as the store’s various areas. These areas include the point-of-sale (POS) area, the receiving area, the main store floor, and the cannabis storage room.
Second, you must ensure that the cameras’ field-of-view (FoV) is correctly configured to properly capture footage. In addition, you must ensure that the lighting is conducive to capturing high-quality footage with minimal obstructions. You will need to avoid backlight and factor in the direction of the sun so as to avoid sunlight glare.
3. Retain your camera footage.
Your provincial regulatory body requires you to record and retain your camera footage in a common media format for a minimum number of days. In Alberta, it’s 60 days, and in Ontario, 30 days.
You must also ensure that your system is fully-functional by testing it at regular intervals. For example, in Alberta, you must test your system every week and guarantee that each camera — and the recording system — works. You must also log results and make them available to the AGLC upon request.
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Integrate Video Analytics to Your Dispensary Security Cameras
With video analytics, you’ll have the ability to efficiently use your video surveillance system.
Yes, camera footage is valuable, but to find the issue you are looking for, you will have to sort through many hours of video. You don’t have that kind of time.
With video analytics, you can configure your surveillance system to detect motion, recognize faces and license plates, or spot other abnormal activity. When that activity occurs, your surveillance system will provide you an alert, giving you an opportunity to stop the problem.
For example, if there’s a spike in sales and refunds, you will know about it while it’s happening.
If you are reviewing footage, you can skip to relevant periods without going through hours of video. You can also get useful information, such as the license plate of an attacker’s car, among others.
By equipping your dispensary camera system with video analytics, you will take on a proactive security posture and have the ability to respond to issues sooner.
To get a camera security system that covers your cannabis store’s needs and deters threats, your first step should be to speak to an experienced professional security systems company.
Logixx Security brings over 47 years of proven experience in designing, installing and managing security systems for clients with dense regulatory needs and complex threat concerns.
We’ll help you get your dispensary running by designing and implementing a security system that meets licensing requirements and thwarts theft, breaking-and-entering, and robberies.