The Grassroots of Marijuana Security (Part Two)
This blog is the second in a three part series focusing on the connection between security and the medical and recreational cannabis industry. In Part One I talked about what was required in a security plan for the oversight of the dispensing/cultivating operations. In summary, I recommended that the plan address technology (cyber security, digital video cameras, automated access control, biometric readers, and intrusion detection alarm systems); processes (security policies, incident response, visitor management, prohibited items, and training); personnel (on-site security and transportation security); and liaison with critical third parties (state officials) and first responders (police and fire). Now, I’ll discuss a security strategy to implement during the construction (if applicable), build out, preparation, and operations planning of your business. In Part Three, I will explain the necessary ongoing security posture for sustainability.
Congratulations You Have Your License!
So you’ve cleared the first hurdle—you were issued a license by the state to run a commercial cannabis business. The good news is you have your license, and the bad news is you have your license. I’ll explain. Just because the state has authorized you to operate in this industry does not guarantee that you will succeed. In Illinois, you’ll be in a four-year pilot period for fledgling cannabis businesses. If at any point during this timeframe you experience a security- or safety-related incident or non-compliance with the Illinois Department of Agriculture or Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, your license could go up in smoke (another terrible pun, but somehow appropriate). So the key to your success after getting your license is keeping your license.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
I have found that to be a successful security consultant I must understand the importance of collaboration. In this specific industry I have worked with professionals who offer very diverse backgrounds and skill sets. I have sat alongside venture capitalists, builders, architects, designers, owners, investors, engineers, chemists, doctors, police, fire, and emergency medical personnel, and cyber experts, to name a few. These interactions have taught me to know my limitations and stick to my specific area of expertise. Deferring to another professional, especially when you find yourself outside of your domain, is a sign of strength not weakness—plus it’s just smart business.
Separating the Walk from the Talk
Another dynamic that comes along with the opening of a marijuana enterprise is the inundation of vendors and companies that want to sell you everything from electronic tracking devices to bulletproof glass to biometric readers. A qualified security professional can run interference and be the filter for vetting all of the necessary services. Backed by my expertise and counsel, I research, identify, and validate candidates seeking to do business with my cannabis clients, offering products and services such as security systems integrators, contract security services, safe and vault specialists, transportation vehicles, and point-of-sale software. Through due diligence, interviewing, reference checking, and proposal request and review, I am able to save (my client) thousands of dollars by ultimately finding the most suitable provider at a cost-efficient price—to deliver the best bang for the buck.
The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
This focused security strategy has been created to support the design, construction, implementation, operation, and sustainability of a cannabis cultivation center or dispensary. Because the commercial cannabis industry is fast becoming a highly competitive market, the success of most businesses in this sector is based on several critical categories, with a safe and secure environment to prevent theft, diversion, tampering, and crime at the top of the list. As the outsourced security expert, I achieve these objectives through prevention-oriented planning; continuous coordination with organizational leadership; liaison with state and local government; application of security best practices; and installation of the latest technology to deter, secure, monitor, and mitigate risk in all aspects of the business. This methodology has been developed through many years of experience in the security field and uniquely tailored to address the specific needs of this industry.