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Security for Your Cannabis Business: What You Need to Know

What Is Security?

This article is about physical security, the protection of physical assets.

Physical protection systems are designed to prevent theft or damage to physical items or property.

Not all assets require the same level of security. The level of security required to protect a specific asset is based on the capabilities of the potential adversary(s). A fast food restaurant would not need as much security as a biological weapons development facility. This is because a small restaurant is not exposed to the same level of threat as a biological weapons development facility, but the design of an “effective” security system for both businesses would rely on the same principles for their respective designs.

Contrary to what your local “security alarm” company may tell you an electronic security alarm is not a security system, but it may play an essential part of an actual security system.

A physical protection system relies on several “essential” elements working together to be an effective security system.

A physical protection system requires the following essential elements:

  1. Detection – The capability of detecting a potential threat as early as possible
  2. Assessment & Communication – The ability to assess the potential threat to determine if it is a credible threat or a false alarm and inform the response personnel in a timely manner
  3. Delays – Providing physical barriers in order to delay the adversary long enough for the response personnel to arrive
  4. Interception – The ability to have an appropriate response force to intercept the adversary before they have achieved their objective.


Detection – The earlier a potential threat can be detected the better the chance that your security system will be able to prevent the undesired outcome. Historically early detection system relied on security personnel and patrols to allow for visual detection of potential threats. Modern alarms have allowed for a wide variety of different types of sensors to detect all kinds of potential treat. Door and window sensors can detect unauthorized entry through building access points. Motion sensors can detect unauthorized activity in open areas and now security cameras with built in motion detection can be set to notify your phone directly when motion has been sensed.

Assessment & Communication – Potential threats must assessed to determine if the threat is credible or if it is a false alarm. The ability to quickly and reliably assess a threat and communicate the threat to the appropriate authority is critical to an effective security system. Modern alarm systems on their own lack the capability of determining what if anything has activated an alarm sensor when the signal is received by the alarm monitoring station. Because the alarm system lacks the ability to differentiate between false alarms and genuine threats police and guard response times can be very poor. Modern surveillance cameras can instantly alert you through your smart phone of a potential threat and allow you to instantly view the location over the phone to determine what if any threat exists. Security personnel receiving a call of a confirmed robbery in progress will instantly prioritize this call over other calls.

Delays – Delays slow an adversary’s progress in order to allow the authorities time to intercept the intruder before he/she is able to obtain their objective. Delays are physical barriers designed to slow or deter a potential adversary. Common delays include locks on doors and windows, bars, gates, safes and vaults. Security doors, barred windows and thick safes can slow the progress of even well-equipped adversaries with power tools.

Interception – The objective of your physical protection system is to delay the intruder’s progress long enough for the authorities arrive before they have achieved their objective. Interception of the adversary must be made by an “appropriate response force”. Most alarm responses in Canada are handled by security guards or police officers. A single security guard may be an appropriate response force for a threat to a small restaurant where as a military tactical team may be required for a threat to a biological weapons development facility.


What You Need to Know About Security for Your Cannabis Business

Health Canada has specified certain minimum security requirements for Licensed Producers in Canada. The security requirements for dispensaries has not been finalized in most provinces but many of the Federal Acts and Regulations will apply to dispensaries and other related businesses.

In addition to the security requirements for the business’ operational facility detailed in the MMPR cannabis businesses in Canada will be required to be compliant with the “Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” (CDSA) which details minimum security requirements involved in handling and storing cannabis and other controlled substances.

In the MMPR regulations all LPs are required to have electronic alarm systems that are actively monitored by a licensed monitoring station as well as video surveillance cameras locations specified throughout the facility. If you are planning on opening a dispensary or starting a related company it is probably a safe bet that you will be required to have a monitored alarm system and surveillance cameras. Purchasing a professional quality surveillance system will allow for better viewing over the internet and provide much better recorded images if needed for evidence or prosecution. 

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act requires that all businesses handling and storing controlled substances meet minimum security standards related to the storing of the controlled substances. The (CDSA) specifies the type of vault required if you are storing cannabis products. The security rating required for the vault is based on two primary variables. The first variable is the maximum dollar value of the controlled substance that will be stored at the facility. The second variable that determines the security rating for your vault is the location of your facility. The (CDSA) requires that businesses storing controlled substances in higher crime rate regions have higher level ratings for their security vaults. A cannabis dispensary in Toronto would require a higher security rated vault than a dispensary in Victoria if they stored the same amount of cannabis. 

If you are thinking of starting a dispensary, licensed growing operation or any other related cannabis business then make sure you are getting a professional security system that meets your specific needs and legal requirements.


Coming Next – How to Design a Custom Surveillance System


Ken Partica
Iron Castle Surveillance

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