Missouri Medical Cannabis Facility Security Best Practices
By MoCann’s Transportation | Security | Technology Committee (TST)
The TST committee has been discussing recent security trends throughout our state and the US cannabis industry. Out of these discussions we felt it important to share our insights and mitigation best practices with our membership and the Missouri industry. In addition to the below thoughts, there is also a printable Dispensary Security Checklist we think is perfect for dispensaries to review and post in their employee area.
This discussion around facility security was initiated by a recent Ganjapreneur article that discusses a recent crime spree in Oakland, California where 25 facilities were robbed within a two-day period.
The article also shows a comparison of Dispensary crime vs liquor store crime in Portland, Oregon: “… there were 95 dispensary robberies, burglaries, or lootings in Portland over a 10-month period in 2020… During the same time frame, Portland saw just 22 liquor store burglaries and zero liquor store robberies.”
Missouri has been fortunate so far, a couple of minor theft incidents and burglaries, but none that involved weapons, assaults, or robbery. It should be noted that other states had little to no crime at the beginning of their programs as well, but with high value inventory and cash, incidents are inevitable and security vigilance is a must.
Security and guard staff really should both be viewed as a cost of doing business. In the banking world security is “second nature” for every location including managing facility security and cash handling etc. However, in recent years wire/electronic funds transfer fraud has increased significantly which has required more training and reinforcement of procedures to prevent the wire fraud. Prevention of both fraud and robbery should be a proactive focus for every facility. A great customer experience, increasing sales etc easily take priority of our daily focus but security should not be overlooked or minimized because of the expense.
Below is a list of Best Practices compiled for MoCannTrade members and operators:
Limit Register Exposure
- To minimize the amount of exposure for cash theft, drawers should be limited to $150 - $250 cash maximum. Most POS applications in use allow for till management so the software can notify when it is time for a cash drop (remove extra cash from the drawer and document the deposit in a drop safe or vault).
- Accept alternative payment options such as payment apps (Hyper), reloadable gift or member cards, debit cards, etc
- Verify cash at the time of payment for counterfeit. There are many inexpensive UV based options than can detect counterfeit bills at the time of payment.
- Use time delayed drop safes which do not allow on demand opening. These have been used successfully in other retail for decades.
- Post signs about employees not having access to cash, specifying that time delayed safes are used, and minimal amounts of cash are kept on hand.
- Guard staff should not have access to the cash or product, non-security staff should not be able to disarm the alarm. This creates a situation where no one person can get into the facility and to product or cash. Two people are required which makes internal theft off-hours less likely.
Show your security
- You have expensive camera systems in place, having a video feed of a few cameras visible to people that walk in is a great reminder that the video surveillance exists.
- Your access control system should allow beeps or other audible noises when a door is opened. Having these on is a subtle reminder that security staff is aware when any door is opened.
- Having keypads or any other security device visible is yet another reminder the facility is actively monitored for burglary and robbery.
- Having guard staff wear uniforms, wording or logos that reinforce they are security guards gives indication the person is a trained security professional helping to ensure the facility is not a target.
- Your access control system should have controls that don’t allow an exterior entrance door and a dispensary floor door to both be open at the same time to deter “rushing the door”.
- Armed security officers should be required to attend firearms training courses that are robust and include tactical training, situation deescalation, and range work including annual re-qualification requirements.
- Security can also serve as a monitor for controlled area access in tandem with dispensary agent verification and patient check in.
Have specific opening and closing procedures
- Quality security systems have “ambush” functionality built in to allow staff to silently trigger armed robbery panic alarms for the monitoring company.
- Many systems also allow for specific arm and disarm sequences that use pre-defined steps for the first person in the building and the last ones out. If an employee is ambushed, they can’t do the next step and the silent alarm is triggered.
- Guard staff should be the first person in and the last person out. Properly trained guard staff will recognize that something is wrong before being ambushed.
- Ensure all vaults and safes are locked upon starting the day’s operations
- Ensure all vaults and safes are locked when not in use and at the end of each day’s operations.
- Ensure the burglar alarm is activated at the end of each day’s operations.
- Ensure exterior doors are locked, bolted and consider door bar to prevent prying efforts
Other items to consider
- Bullet-resistant glass enclosed counter in the secured entrance vestibule with appropriate protection within and behind walls as opposed to just fortifying the glass and leaving all else vulnerable.
- Utilizing the video system and basic analytics to count the vehicles entering the parking space, number of people approaching from outside, gathering outside (good for loitering prevention as well), training in surveillance detection and awareness.
- Thorough background investigations as opposed to simple background checks that are basically nothing more than criminal history reviews. Insider threat is real and most likely more prominent than most realize.
- Verify that your security company installed motion detectors between the ceiling and the roof. This will catch burglars that either try to hide in the ceiling or attempt to break in by cutting through the roof. Both are very active trends across retail currently.
- Build relationships with local law enforcement. Host a tour of your facility. Make local law enforcement aware of your opening and closing times for extra layer of security for employees.