Legalization Means Cannabis Security is Serious Consideration for Cannabis Business Operators

At the mid-point of 2019, 33 states have enacted some form of marijuana legalization. As state legislatures consider legalizing cannabis, and to what degree, committees are forming to develop regulations surrounding a cannabis business that will accompany legalization. East Coast states considering whether to legalize recreational or medicinal use are taking a look at West Coast frontrunners to determine which departments should regulate their state’s industry, or if new departments should be created.

Massachusetts followed the example of California and Colorado to form the standalone Cannabis Control Commission, while Maine is regulating their cannabis business industry under the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all implemented new regulations under their respective Departments of Health. Most of the initial regulations are temporary while each department determines the greatest risks and opportunities for its state.

What each cannabis business investor and entrepreneur must keep in mind is that the marijuana industry will be well-regulated and monitored for years to come. Until the novelty of legalization settles — and probably long after — security will be among the top concerns of state regulators. In Pennsylvania, the code calls for extensive security protocols for Growers/Processors as well as Dispensaries. New Jersey’s Medical Cannabis Act is similarly thorough regarding the need for effective security.

Common security requirements include commercial-grade video surveillance equipment with professional monitoring, silent and audible alarm systems, video surveillance data storage, camera coverage of all doors and windows, door access control, motion detectors, safes or vaults, armed and unarmed guards, and secure transport of cash and product. Additionally, background checks are required for anyone involved in the business, including financial backers. Dispensaries also require extensive identification and monitoring measures for all visitors to the facility.

States have been aggressive with the enforcement of these regulations as well, lest any cannabis business operators believe they will be left to their own devices once they have approval to begin operations. AGRiMED Industries of PA, LLC learned this the hard way when they received a cease-and-desist letter from the PA Department of Health in early July. When the DOH performed a surprise inspection at the medical marijuana growing and processing plant, they found that the security equipment was not being used as required. Pennsylvania requires that surveillance footage be maintained for a minimum of 2 years.

Attendees at the Boston Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo will have the opportunity to attend sessions on policy and compliance, providing them with the resources to learn their state regulations. Anyone preparing to enter the cannabis industry should seek counsel from industry-specific security experts. Cannabis security companies know each state’s specific regulations and will advise on proper procedures in this vital area of the cannabis business.

While proper security protocols are state requirements, they are also an integral part of the community experience. As cannabis businesses open, whether growing/processing plants or dispensaries, the general public will continue to ask questions and express concerns about how the industry will affect their neighborhoods and communities. Marijuana business owners will do well to address these issues of community relations from the very start of speculation. Placing security concerns at the forefront of their messaging will show neighbors and customers that they can be trusted as a responsible and legitimate business. Security experts work with cannabis businesses to get off on the right foot with consumers, neighbors, law enforcement, and local governments to eliminate stigma and develop positive relationships.

When pursuing cannabis business opportunities, an investment in safety and security is not only the law, but it is a requirement for long-term success and profitability.

About the Authors: Tracey Kauffman (Chairman & Founder), Jim White (President & CEO), Ellen Bolin (Chief Revenue Officer) of CannaBeSecure. CannaBeSecure provides end to end security consulting and solutions to dispensaries and growing processors in MA, NY, NJ, PA, DE, and MD. With over 50 years of combined security experience, including military special forces, IT security, and financial services, the CannaBeSecure team partners with clients through the entire process of designing and implementing compliant security protocols.

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