Marijuana is a growing market in Canada. With recreational marijuana use and sales poised for legalization, potentially by the end of 2018, the opportunity for prospective producers and sellers has never been as promising. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians had spent $5.4 billion on cannabis, of which 80% was for recreational (i.e. currently illegal) use, in 2017.
Legalization promises to shift these multi-billion-dollar activities into the mainstream commercial market and present investors and entrepreneurs lucrative long-term opportunities, especially in the sale of recreational and medical marijuana through retail sites and dispensaries.
Provinces are responsible for implementing their respective cannabis markets: British Columbia and Alberta are planning to permit privately-owned marijuana stores, while Ontario and Quebec have presently opted to allow sales from provincially-owned stores only. However, because the legal recreational marijuana market is new, it’s reasonable to expect regulations to change in the coming years before the dust truly settles on the issue.
Nonetheless, marijuana is a high-value item with a growing consumer market. Be it producers or dispensers, business owners require fully effective security systems to deter threats, especially robbery and internal and external threats.
Whether you’re planning to open a new dispensary or are looking to improve your current outfit, this planning guide will get you started in determining what you exactly need for your dispensary in terms of securing it from a wide array of risks.
Why Plan a Security System?
It’s a matter of protecting your investment, products, employees and customers. Threats taking the form of internal and external theft, loss and/or property damage (resulting from theft) will eat into your bottom-line and potentially even sink an otherwise promising enterprise.
However, marijuana security is a complex area. Not only is your dispensary selling a high-value item necessitating protection, but your dispensary’s location and surroundings, staff-size, layout, and a host of other factors will determine your risk-level. In fact, a dispensary’s risk is twofold: it must manage its standard retail threats plus the unique threats facing marijuana businesses.
How to Build a Security System for Your Dispensary
The security system of your marijuana dispensary will be determined by the unique factors affecting the specific site(s) you want secured. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Instead, a thorough study has to be conducted prior to designing your security system to identify your exact risks, how you can control your risks and the technical equipment and services you need.
Threat Risk Assessment:
The objective of a threat risk assessment is to understand the risks threatening your dispensary.
For example, is your dispensary located in an area that has a higher break-in rate compared to other areas? Is your dispensary a standalone building or is it a leased or rented space in a plaza or shared storefront? The fact that you can’t control every risk-factor – such as entrances/exits – is something that must be accounted for in your threat assessment.
In a shared shopping area, you won’t be able to control the flow of shoppers and other visitors in the area. This is especially true at night outside of your dispensary’s operating hours; you won’t be onsite, but dozens – potentially hundreds – of people will walk by your store each night.
Security Site Plan
In this stage, you will need to identify your options for securing your dispensary. This can include installing access control systems (i.e. swipe cards, key codes, etc), intrusion detection system (e.g. alarm system), vault for storing products, closed circuit television (CCTV) for 24/7 visual monitoring and other systems to ensure that all risks are being addressed.
Security Floor Plan
The objective is to produce an internal floor plan and layout of your retail space, such as areas which are employee-only and areas open to shoppers. In this stage, you will determine exactly where to install the security systems for your dispensary: this includes the entrances in your site requiring access controls; areas for your CCTV cameras; where to place a vault for storing cash and product; where to install intrusion detection systems and other equipment.
What to Include in Your Marijuana Dispensary Security System
Your marijuana dispensary’s security system will incorporate various systems selected in accordance with your dispensary site’s risk-level and circumstances. The following are vital components of a security system in the marijuana industry.
Access control systems such as key passes, swipe cards and biometric systems are installed to prevent unauthorized access. This could involve restricting access to a specific location within a store, a vault and the store itself outside of store hours.
The access control systems you select are based on your risk assessment and site floor plan. For example, a retail site could involve multiple different access control systems; key codes for employees but card swipes for management. In this case, you delete an ex-employee’s code to ensure that they can’t access the store. In addition to the hardware, you should have processes in place to ensure that senior security officers change key codes frequently so as to protect the store from key codes being leaked or deciphered.
A CCTV system provides 24/7 visual monitoring of your dispensary. Its presence can help deter internal and external theft, contribute to investigations into possible theft or loss, identify culprits and observe your dispensary when no one is on site. CCTV is certainly an asset, but it requires uninterrupted power access for it to operate without disruption (e.g. during power outages).
Be it a single dispensary or a chain of stores, it’s costly to maintain an on-site or in-house staff to examine CCTV footage. Outsourcing your CCTV surveillance to a professional security company helps reduce costs while still enabling you to leverage a professionally trained team to monitor events and identify security threats at your store(s). You can acquire a custom solution that caters to your hardware requirements and operational realities.
Security alarm systems can alert you when a break-in attempt is occuring at your store. This is an integral system for dispensaries, which will not have personnel on-site outside of store hours (just like other stores). However, while an alarm might deter some, others will disregard it to take your high-value products (while causing other damages in the process).
In such situations, a full service alarm system will augment the alert with a response. You should work with a professional security company to determine when to monitor your alarm system and how to respond to a range of specific issues, such as alerting the police during a break-in.
Vault Security Plan
Your dispensary should have a vault to securely store cannabis products and cash, especially at night or outside store hours. Not only does it add another layer of security against break-ins, but it also lets you restrict access to higher-value goods to senior-level employees at your store as a means to prevent internal theft or inventory loss.
Key Considerations for Your Dispensary Security System
Whether it’s just one dispensary or a chain of multiple stores, an effective security system for your marijuana dispensary comprises of many factors. It involves an assessment of each site so that every risk is identified and addressed properly. Completing this process correctly requires a professional security company with considerable experience in securing clients in both retail and in the cannabis industry so as to understand every threat posed to your dispensary.
Upon determining the specific threats, a professional security company will design an integrated security system to address every specific risk. This involves sourcing industry standard systems – including certified CCTV cameras, intrusion detection systems and access control solutions – and installing them correctly. This also includes continual maintenance for uninterrupted uptime as well as adherence to government regulations and industry best practices.
Besides installation, you must ensure that each element functions under a cohesive system for seamless monitoring, management and reporting of each dispensary covered by your security system. Not only does this enable you to best allocate your resources (e.g. identifying when and where you need active monitoring of CCTV footage), but it fulfils compliance to regulations and for insurance purposes by generating comprehensive records of your store(s).
You require a professional security company to fulfill each and every requirement in the process of designing, developing, installing and operating your dispensary’s security system. The wrong hardware (including uncertified and/or poorly-functioning systems), poor implementation, lack of maintenance and post-installation support and not identifying the threats posed to your store will put your dispensary at higher risk and force otherwise avoidable costs (resulting from replacing an ineffective security system or recovering from preventable theft and damage).
Logixx Can Help
We at Logixx have accumulated more than 25 years of experience successfully implementing integrated security systems for Canada’s leading businesses in healthcare, transportation and logistics, finance and property management. Our strong understanding of Canadian marijuana legislation and regulations enabled us to provide compliant and fully effective security systems for legal medical marijuana producers. By leveraging our experience, we will deliver a complete security system designed to address the unique threats posed to your dispensary business.
Logixx was established in 1991. We began by providing security systems to home and business with the vision of providing first-in-class protection families, properties and assets. Over the next 25 years, we evolved by fully grasping ongoing changes to technology and the risk environment.
We now deliver integrated security solutions for large and complex industries by leveraging our longstanding experience and partnerships with top-name hardware vendors such as Honeywell Pro-Watch, Verex, Avigilon and others to provide our clients with perfect-fit integrated security systems that address each of their risks without failure and disruption.
Get in touch with us and implement seamless, cost-effective security solutions at your dispensary.