Like banks and jewelry stores, cultivators deal in a high-value product and a cash-heavy business that can appeal to thieves. This makes it imperative to choose the right security system for your business, both in terms of meeting essential state requirements and getting the most value for your investment.
CHOOSING A SYSTEM
1. A monitoring system has a dual role: security & compliance
Unlike in most industries, security systems for the cannabis industry must do more than protect against crime.
If you run a convenience store and your cameras go down for a time, the risk is private and limited to your own desire to capture illegal acts on camera. If you are a grower, however, the stakes are much higher.
Every state’s regulations spell out compliance requirements for security systems, some even down to the camera resolution required, so, at a minimum, reading and meeting these requirements is a must. Your insurance company may also have compliance requirements.
2. Find a security company that has experience with regulated systems
You don't want to pay a lot for an expensive system that's not tailored to your state's specific requirements. Inquire about the firm's experience installing systems for heavily regulated industries and familiarity with state requirements.
3. Make sure they understand local requirements
To comply with security requirements, local rules are just as important as state rules. In Colorado, for instance, the state requires off-site storage of 30 days of recorded video, while some cities require much more, according to Tony Gallo, Managing Partner of Dallas-based cannabis consulting firm Sapphire Risk Advisory Group.
4. Go 'beyond compliance'
Doing the minimum to get a green light from the state regulators is not a good idea. “What the state needs to get your doors open is probably not what you want in real life in the all-cash cannabis business,” Gallo says. “Just because the state says you’re good to go does not mean you should stop there, because people can still steal from you.”
5. Inside jobs are more likely
Realize that external dangers are actually not the biggest threats to your grow operation — internal/employee theft is. Despite this, the lion’s share of security assets invested in are meant to prevent people from breaking in, says Gallo, who spent 17 years as director of loss prevention and safety for a major company providing security for more than 1,300 high-risk businesses.
6. Create an environment that fosters honesty
To minimize employee-theft risks, “establish … set policies, procedures and guidelines that will spot losses and be able to … identify who did it and how it’s being done,” Gallo says.
For example: Where are your employees processing and tending buds? Do you have cameras and a visible video monitor posted there? Do employees know that recordings are being checked regularly?
Think Twice Before Arming Employees
It may surprise some that the advice Sapphire Risk Advisory Group’s Tony Gallo offers the cannabis industry — and other high-risk businesses — is that employees not be armed. He is blunt on this issue. “Could you kill somebody?” he asks. “Last year, two pawn brokers were killed because they actually pulled their guns, had the guns on the robber, but could not pull the trigger. So the robber shot them.”Even if you do fire, the outcome is often not good. “Do you want to get into a gun battle? What if you miss? What if someone else gets ahold of the gun?” he says.
In Gallo’s experience working with high-risk businesses, the risks outweigh the benefits of having armed employees.
“What do robbers want? They want the cash and the cannabis. Give them the cash and the cannabis, and go home and have dinner with your family,” he says.