Business information

Commercial security meets the needs of the evolving cannabis industry

The nationwide legalization of medical and recreational cannabis for adult use continues to face slow progress and partisan political disagreement in the United States, even as more states make marijuana legal and nine out of ten Americans say they support some form of marijuana legalization. It’s probably a matter of when, not if, cannabis is federally sanctioned.

Aside from the changing legal landscape, the dynamic rise of legal cannabis businesses represents a new growth market for commercial security providers, as well as the responsibility of integrators to apply their professional expertise in risk assessment. , project management, and innovative technologies to implement code-compliant systems that better protect these high-risk, emerging businesses.

Cash companies

Until federal legislation is passed to ease banking restrictions, most cannabis dispensaries are forced to remain cash-heavy operations. Trading in a highly demanded and highly regulated product like cannabis increases the risk of armed robbery and burglary, as well as internal theft, tampering, counterfeiting, organized retail crime and even espionage.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for these cannabis businesses to seek experienced security, fire and life safety professionals to critically assess the risks on the specific type of operation – be it a dispensary, manufacturing site, or grow facility. An established security partner can establish an effective security ecosystem that can grow and evolve as the customer’s business grows. Experienced integrators can draw on their past experiences and work with other high-risk business environments, such as luxury retailers, banks, pharmacies, and large manufacturers. Like those required by most cannabis authorities, the systems associated with these types of facilities often include intrusion detection, access control (including biometrics), video surveillance (including surveillance live video), secure cash handling systems, fail-safe panic alarms and code compliant fire alarm, extinguishing and life protection standards.

License – Don’t Go Alone

Before the conversation about security, fire, and life safety solutions can begin, cannabis businesses must first obtain a license to operate in their city and state by meeting compliance standards and navigating the the extremely complicated and competitive licensing process. As independent entrepreneurs, new cannabis business owners may be used to making decisions and doing things on their own. Thus, it may be unusual for them to seek professional advice for the rigorous and detailed security requirements imposed by licensing authorities. This is where identifying a trusted security partner is absolutely essential.

A major component of most cannabis business license applications is having a comprehensive security plan that includes meticulous designs and standard operating procedures. Many aspiring cannabis businesses turn to professional risk consulting firms to help them navigate this initial application process, which can include site visits and risk assessments, developing a risk plan well-designed security floor, including security project management, as well as safety and security training. policies and procedures.

If the licensing agency rejects an application as inadequate for any reason, or if the plan is changed mid-course before the final inspection and stamp of approval, agencies can require a business to start over the entire process, resulting in costly delays. Additionally, a poor application score can permanently disadvantage a potential cannabis company applicant in future licensing efforts.

Security training, compliance and security intertwined

An often overlooked, but crucial part of a comprehensive security ecosystem that rigorously protects people, assets and products is establishing well-defined policies and procedures for the proper and frequent training of all employees on how to use safety and personal protection systems. Employee training plans should take into account turnover rates and the proper functioning of systems with regular reviews and updates to ensure that all employees know how to use security systems. It’s also crucial that employees are trained on what to do in crisis situations, which can range from attempted armed robberies to medical emergencies or natural disasters like earthquakes and fires.

When a business receives their cannabis business license, a security integration partner can step in to begin implementing recommended products and services, and provide expert installation, inspection, and testing to ensure that the operation remains compliant and compliant with the standards of all codes, regulations, and requirements.

Innovative systems to improve business operations

For cannabis businesses, margins are everything, so preventing all types of theft can help protect profits and allow businesses to thrive. As with other retail businesses, the number one cause of shrinkage in the cannabis industry is internal theft, and while businesses don’t need to be wary of employees, today’s smart security systems hui can help prevent and minimize internal theft by identifying and documenting it in real time. Advanced technologies using artificial intelligence (AI) to point of sale (POS) are gaining popularity among large retail dispensaries. Sophisticated systems like these have analytics built into the platform to offer business operations metrics, such as tracking customer engagement and buying habits. For other operators with less working capital, a trusted security advisor can provide extensive technology alternatives to mitigate risk while staying within budget.

Prepare for the future today

Once the federal banking and interstate commerce issues are resolved, you can expect large corporations, such as alcohol, soft drink and food manufacturers, to enter the cannabis market they have, so far avoided due to federal restrictions. When this happens, the already competitive cannabis business environment will become intensely more competitive. These influential players will certainly need and seek more complex and sophisticated systems for large distribution centers and warehouses that must comply with regulations across the country.

Preparing now for the future likelihood of an even more competitive industry can help smaller-scale operations implement security systems that can scale as their business grows. A solid strategy to consider today is to partner with a fire, life safety and security integrator that already has a dedicated cannabis team, combined with an existing national presence to integrate products and services, regardless of state or region.


Federal legalization aside, everyone in the cannabis industry, whether dispensary owners, growers, or manufacturers, currently requires professional and comprehensive security expertise for their safety, fire, and life safety, while meeting strict state and city licensing requirements.

Partnering with a professional cannabis safety consultant with a successful track record of helping cannabis businesses obtain licenses can help new cannabis businesses overcome that first, seemingly insurmountable hurdle by providing risk assessment, drafting and applications, a security floor plan and facility construction development, as well as security product recommendations.

For security integrators, embracing technological innovations, increasing capabilities and building long-term relationships with these customers are critical to their safety, security and business success. It’s not about selling a system and then walking away. It’s about being a true integration partner every step of the way and ensuring that safety and life protection systems not only comply with regulations, but actually help protect people, property, products and benefits to better meet the complex and high-risk needs of this potentially lucrative new customer base.

About the authors: Andy Fleet Director is the Business Development Manager, Cannabis at Commercial ADT. Tony Gallo is the managing partner of Sapphire Risk Group and is recognized as one of the cannabis industry’s leading security consulting firms.