If you’ve ever ventured into a licensed cannabis dispensary, you’ve likely noticed heightened security that you may not see in other retail establishments. As you’d imagine, the items being sold in a marijuana dispensary – whether recreational or medical – are far more sensitive than what most other retailers sell. As such, specific security measures should be taken to ensure that only permitted cannabis consumers are shopping and that the business and its employees are safe. Dispensary security is a very important thing for owners to consider and is something that directly plays into your ability to be awarded a license and ensure success for your business.
Whether you’re planning to open a cannabis dispensary, already have one in operation, or are looking to learn more about security for dispensaries, here are some of the most important reasons why you need a robust security strategy.
Adult-use and medical marijuana dispensaries may be in the retail sphere, but they are a specialized and sensitive type of operation that must manage exactly who goes in and out of the premise. A dispensary is not a place for minors, nor is it a place for those who are not eligible to consume cannabis products. For instance, if you are running a medical marijuana dispensary and the current laws in your state do not yet permit adult-use, steps need to be taken to make sure that only registered medical patients have access to your facility and products.
In this case, each customer must have an up-to-date medical marijuana card on them before they are able to enter the dispensary, and having a security guard at the entrance to check for appropriate identification will help to weed out the individuals who should not be allowed entry.
As in any brick and mortar store, theft prevention is a common priority in order to minimize loss from stolen goods. Theft can eat into profits, so measures should certainly be taken to prevent this loss. There are a number of prevention methods catered to different types of retail facilities. Clothing stores, for example, affix security tags to their garments that will sound an alarm if someone exits with an unpaid item with the tag still attached.
High-end fashion stores even go so far as to hire security guards to keep watch at store entry and exit points and survey the store to make sure no one is up to anything nefarious. Dispensaries need to make a similar effort to prevent thefts, as the nature of dispensaries makes it even more important to make sure that cannabis products only end up in legitimate hands.
Unfortunately, the issue of theft goes beyond just patrons. There is also the issue of employee theft to deal with, since as much as 90% of losses that marijuana dispensaries report comes from their own employees. Whether they’re just looking to save some money on their cannabis products or have intentions of selling whatever they can get their hands on for profit, employee theft in marijuana dispensaries is a real threat. Dispensaries need to add a level of internal security protocol to prevent these incidents from occurring.
There is also the issue of protecting employees and patrons from extreme instances of theft and violence. Currently, sales transactions in the cannabis industry are cash-only, so marijuana dispensaries are particularly attractive to thieves for both the product they carry and the cash they have on-site. There have already been incidents reported where dispensaries have been robbed at gunpoint, putting all people involved at risk. With security measures in place, damages from violent robberies can be mitigated or avoided altogether.
Cyber theft is also an issue that dispensaries need to deal with, as technology plays a big role in many aspects of our personal and professional lives. Marijuana businesses that store customer data are especially vulnerable to cyber theft, and some have already experienced the unfortunate situation where their sensitive information was compromised as a result. These types of security measures are more sophisticated and require the use of comprehensive cybersecurity, but any efforts made to protect customer data should be considered worthwhile, especially in medical marijuana dispensaries where stored customer data can include a patient’s medical history.
Employees who are responsible for helping customers find the right cannabis products based on their unique needs must be fully educated on the intricacies of the products themselves and on caring for the business. All employees must keep up with current trends and laws surrounding the purchase, sale, and use of cannabis and its derivatives, which includes taking part in ongoing education to keep them aware of what’s happening in this rapidly-changing environment. Budtenders and staff must be up to speed on adhering to safety procedures, spotting possible safety issues, dealing with threats and theft appropriately, and making sure that everyone within the dispensary is safe.
If your dispensary is involved in the transportation of cannabis products, it is important to remain in compliance with state regulations. Transporting cannabis products isn’t as simple and straight-forward as delivering groceries or other typical goods. Given the nature of cannabis in the federal scope, certain regulations need to be followed, and every state where marijuana is legal in any capacity will have its own set of regulations that dispensaries must adhere to.
Compliance is just the tip of the iceberg. There is also the safety of the driver and those who are loading and unloading the truck at different points that must be considered. The fact that these vehicles will be carrying a substance that thieves can easily sell in illegal markets puts them at high risk for theft. Additionally, the fact that large sums of cash are involved will make these vehicles moving targets. The secure transportation of cannabis and cash is a crucial component of a dispensary’s security and overall safety procedures to protect the business’ assets and the people involved in these activities.
In the cannabis industry, safety and security are key to maintaining a successful and profitable business. A lack of security cause profit loss and can jeopardize the safety of employees and patients. Having a sound security system and adequate safety procedures in place that cover all aspects of your cannabis dispensary is important, so do your due diligence to develop a robust system of your own.
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