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  • Andrew Mullins posted an article
    A list of security best practices and a dispensary security checklist download see more

    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:

     

    Cash

    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.

     

    Deterrence

    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.

    Use guards

    • 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.

     

     

  • Andrew Mullins posted an article
    Store openings, sales and patient enrollment accelerate heading into spring see more

    Store openings, sales and patient enrollment accelerate heading into spring

     

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Just shy of the industry’s six-month mark for operations, 120 medical cannabis businesses are now approved to do business in Missouri, where patient enrollment approaches six figures and cumulative sales are just shy of $30 million.

    Eighty (80) of the facilities to receive state operating approval to date are retail dispensaries, as new locations open across Missouri on a near-daily basis. The state Department of Health and Senior Services has licensed a total of 347 facilities to cultivate, manufacture, test and dispense medical marijuana to Missouri patients.

    Weekly medical marijuana sales in Missouri have averaged more than $2.5 million over the past month, with DHSS reporting cumulative medical cannabis sales of nearly $30 million statewide through Friday, April 9.  

    As of Monday, more than 95,000 patients and caregivers have received their state-approved medical cannabis cards, with thousands more applications pending.

    “We’ve been crisscrossing the state for weeks now as new businesses continue to come online,” said Andrew Mullins, executive director of MoCannTrade (The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association). “Our growing industry is not only improving the health and well-being of Missouri patients but also creating thousands of new jobs while funneling millions in new and needed tax revenue to the state.”

    Medical cannabis sales in Missouri include an additional 4 percent sales tax dedicated to health

    and care of military veterans.

    To highlight the breadth of knowledge, experience and passion seen throughout Missouri’s newest high-impact industry, MoCannTrade offers these brief member spotlights:

     

    fresh.green dispensaries

    Locations: Kansas City, Lee's Summit

    Owners: Bianca and Rob Sullivan

    Attorneys Bianca and Rob Sullivan had a successful law practice in Kansas City for more than a decade before the couple ventured into the medical cannabis industry.

    With the October 2020 debut of its Lee’s Summit location, fresh.green was the first dispensary to open in the Kansas City area, and the second statewide. Its second store in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood opened in March.

    The locations are intentional for the Sullivans – Bianca grew up in Waldo, and the couple raised their children in Lee’s Summit.

    As part of its corporate philosophy, fresh.green provides a dedicated percentage of its profits in the form of discounted or free medicine for patients in need, including veterans — an amount Rob Sullivan said topped over $150,000 in the last two months of 2020 alone.

     

    Missouri Wild Alchemy

    Locations: O’Fallon (two dispensaries)

    Owners: Jason and Nicole Crady, Scott Hitchcock

    As a career firefighter and paramedic, Jason Crady has seen the opioid epidemic’s damage firsthand. As a pharmacist, his wife and business partner Nicole is keenly attuned to the importance of patient education both in the field and at their two Missouri Wild Alchemy dispensaries in St. Charles County. Their third partner, civil engineer Scott Hitchcock, tapped his skills to help design the two retail outlets.

    As lifelong Missourians with deep community connections, the Missouri Wild Alchemy team takes pride in their patient- and community-first approach.

     

    Flora Farms

    Locations: Humansville (cultivation and dispensary), Neosho and Springfield (dispensaries)

    Owners: BD Health, ERBA Holdings; Mark Hendren, president

    With a 120,000-square-foot indoor growing facility and three dispensaries across southwest Missouri, Flora Farms fixes its focus squarely outside the state’s two big cities – and two most congested markets.

    The Springfield/Joplin ownership group includes doctors, lawyers, CPAs and business owners from the four-state region (state law requires Missouri ownership of at least 50 percent; President Mark Hendren says Missourians account for 80 percent of ownership).

    Flora Farms won state approval to begin operations at its cultivation facility in October 2020, with its three dispensaries opening between December 2020 and February of this year.

    Hendren said the company plans to increase its growing capacity by 50 percent before year’s end, producing more than 3,000 pounds of cannabis per month and making it one of the largest indoor cultivators in the state.

     

    The Valley

    Location: Farmington

    Owners: Dan and Alex Freund   

    After nearly a quarter-century as a small-town pharmacist, Dan Freund joined his son Alex, a recent college graduate, to own Farmington’s only medical cannabis dispensary – in the same building Medicap Pharmacy previously called home.

    Freund says he pivoted to help “veterans with PTSD, patients undergoing chemotherapy, people with psychiatric problems and to add to the quality of people’s lives in southeastern Missouri.”

    The Valley opened February 1.

     

    COCO

    Locations: Chillicothe, Hannibal and Moberly (dispensaries), COCO Labs, Clarence (infused products manufacturing)

    Owners: Ethan, Clay and Brooke Foster; Skyler, Mark and Amy Thomas

    Many businesses strive to create a family atmosphere at work, cannabis included. At COCO and COCO Labs, it really is (almost) all in the family.

    With a University of Missouri plant science degree and medical cannabis cultivation experience in New Mexico, COCO owner Ethan Foster enlisted his parents as partners in the northern Missouri company, joined by a second family. The Foster clan also own C&R Supermarkets, an 11-store grocery chain in business since 1957.

    With deep family roots in northern Missouri, COCO is proud of the “small-town hospitality” at its three retail locations, said chief operating officer Brooke Foster, who is also Ethan’s Mom. Co-founder Skyler Thomas is Ethan Foster’s cousin (their mothers are sisters).

    “We felt strongly that Missouri patients in this part of the state needed easy access to their medicine,” she said.

     

    Nirvana Investments LLC

    Locations: N’Bliss dispensaries (Ellisville, Festus, House Springs and Manchester); 5150 N’fusion manufacturing/infused products (Festus); Bold Lane Logistics transportation (Festus)

    Owner: Brad Goette, CEO/managing partner, Nirvana Investments

    N’Bliss is rightfully proud of its status as the first legal cannabis dispensary to commence operations in Missouri, as well as the site of the state’s first legal medical cannabis patient purchase in October 2020. But that was only the beginning for CEO Brad Goette and his team.

    Its two Jefferson County dispensaries will soon open in the coming weeks, while its manufacturing and infused products facility, also in JeffCo, is expected to receive state operating approval in May. That paves the way for Nirvana’s full line of edibles, concentrates, vape cartridges and more.

    May is also when the LLC’s transportation licensee opens its doors.

    N’Bliss dispensaries are also open to the public for CBD sales, a market differentiation company leaders say makes for a more welcoming environment to help educate and engage with prospective patients.

     

     -----

    MoCannTrade (The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association) is an association of business owners, health care providers, professionals, patients and residents responsible for helping to implement a successful, safe, compliant medical marijuana program in Missouri.

    The membership-based association is directed by a board of diverse professionals experienced in medical marijuana, healthcare, law, pharmaceutical, science, agriculture, law enforcement, security, commercial real estate, finance, public affairs and regulatory sectors.

    To learn more about MoCannTrade please visit www.mocanntrade.org

  • Grow America Builders, LLC posted an article
    Grow America Builders Guest Blog Post Discussing Dispensary Security Recommendations see more

    Guest Blog Post By: David Fettner | Grow America Builders 

    Introduction
    A cannabis dispensary has many unique qualities that differentiate it from a typical retail store. A dispensary building incorporates the features of a retailer, a bank, and a pharmacy. But the most important aspect is security.  Between the cash transactions and cannabis product on site, a dispensary has always been a target for criminals. In this current environment, where rioting and looting is becoming more prevalent, that target has increased ten-fold. 

    New Security Challenges
    All dispensaries have full surveillance coverage, both inside and out, as well as top of the line security systems. Unfortunately cameras aren’t always enough; a mob of looters in masks don’t care if their image gets caught on tape. Tensions are high and penalties are low. Our main priority has shifted towards protecting our client’s business, their employees, and their product. 

    Grow America Builders have built dispensaries all over the country, and recently one of our dispensaries was in the middle of televised riots. A mob of looters attempted to get in twice in the same night. We can proudly say, the damage was minimal and the criminals didn’t get anything except frustration and some bloody hands. But it was a wake-up call that these types of incidents can occur more and more frequently, so we created an updated strategy for security the dispensaries that we build. 

    Security Above & Beyond
    The following are some security reinforcements recommended when building or renovating a cannabis facility: 

    Workroom Reinforcements: Bulletproof
    The workroom is one of the most important parts of a dispensary. It’s typically adjacent to the vault, and during work hours the dispensary workroom is where the product is put together for orders and passed through to the point of sale area. There are many times throughout the day where the workroom could be housing significant amounts of cannabis.

    At Grow America Builders, we came up with a solution years ago that ensures protection between the point of sale area and workroom. We recommend building cannabis workrooms with heavy gauge steel and barrier mesh between the drywall. This is an acceptable method for some vaults, and provides excellent security for a cannabis workroom. 

    Additionally, many workrooms have pass-through windows where employees hand over the cannabis orders to the salespeople. Think of a bank teller window. We couldn’t find the right sized bank teller window, so we came up with another solution. We sourced a 2’ by 3’ commercial storefront window, glazed with over 1” thick bulletproof glass. 

    Between the reinforced walls and bulletproof windows, we more or less created a safe room for the employees who work in the cannabis workroom. In the event looters ever get into the store, they aren’t getting into the workroom.

    Storefront Window Film: Bombproof
    Most storefront windows are typical center glazed with ¼” tempered glass. However, in order to achieve full peace of mind, we started applying a reinforced security film over the dispensaries’s exterior windows and glass doors.

    1.  First of all, this guarantees that no looters can physically break the through the window.

    2.  Secondly, if they come armed with explosives, they’ll be in for a rude awakening because the film is applied with an impact protection adhesive anchoring system, which is rated to be bomb proof.

    This film can be applied over almost any typical storefront window and is sourced from some of the most reputable vendors in the industry. 

    Vault Door: Bullet Proof! Bomb Proof! Mob Proof!
    The vault is always the first item that we scrutinize when provided with a set of plans to build a new dispensary. The vault can be built many ways;

     

     

    • Masonry construction
    • Heavy gauge metal studs with wire mesh
    • Prefabricated panels from a security company

    All three ways provide satisfactory security, but we always have to be careful because different states have different vault construction parameters. Still, all three methods provide optimal protection. The vault door is the one wild card because not all vault doors are built alike. 

    At Grow America Builders, we highly recommend using a Class 5 V vault door that has guaranteed protection of 20 man-hours of surreptitious entry and radiological break-in techniques. This includes withstanding a prolonged ‘mob attack’.

    This door can withstand brutal attacks from a mob for a prolonged period of time, something that we never considered when we started building dispensaries, but in 2020, this has become a necessity.

    Additionally, if we have a client who is highly concerned about security, we can upgrade the vault door one step further to provide up to 60 minutes of penetration delay against battering attacks, intense and concentrated hand tool attacks, as well as being able to withstand multiple shots of both 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm ballistic attacks. 

     

    Miscellaneous Reinforcements
    There are many other tweaks and adjustments that we now do to reinforce a dispensary during construction. When looters attacked one of our recently completed dispensaries, it gave us a real world glimpse as to how our security was able to stand up to the criminal element. We were able to identify potential weak points and make easy adjustments.

    For example, we were able to identify that the looters tried to remove door hinge pins in an attempt to remove doors to enter the workroom. They never got in, but it showed us a potential weak point.

    Now, we only install pin-less hinges, whether specified on the architectural drawings or not. There were many more ideas we garnered throughout those weeks, many of which we now implement as standard construction means and methods in the construction of a dispensary.   

     

    Conclusion
    When a dispensary gets looted and vandalized, it does more than physical damage, especially when the dispensary is medicinal. There are patients who depend on their daily cannabis. We’ve seen first hand the panic in the eyes of an epilepsy patient who came to the dispensary looking for his usual order but couldn’t get it because of looting the prior night. This is one of the real life, unfortunate impacts of looting a cannabis dispensary. 
    We will continue to secure the dispensaries we build, not only for the safety of the client and employees, but also to thwart the attempts of the criminals targeting cannabis facilities.

     

    David Fettner is a managing partner of Grow America Builders, a national design-build construction company focused solely on the cannabis industry. Along with his partner, Mike Kaulentis, Grow America brings over twenty years of versatile construction experience, offering customers an end to end experience from concept through architecture, design and turnkey construction. 

     September 17, 2020