The 2023 Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Security

2023 guide to cannabis dispensary security

Protect your cannabis dispensary and meet local regulations.

Cannabis dispensaries are ripe with security risks — because they rely on cash transactions and sell highly-regulated substances, dispensaries are key targets for robberies across legal states. As such, dispensaries face ample regulations from local governments, mandating businesses follow strict security guidelines. How can dispensaries ensure their safety while also meeting local guidelines?

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to make sure your dispensary is both secure & up to code. Read on, or jump ahead using the table of contents below.

  1. Cannabis Security Requirements for Dispensaries
  2. Forced Entry Protection for Cannabis Dispensaries
    1. Exterior Fencing
    2. Reinforced Glass Windows & Doors
    3. Retrofit Display Case Smash & Grab Protection
  3. Cannabis Security Systems & Cameras for Dispensaries
    1. Cannabis Dispensary Security Systems
      1. Secure Storage Areas & Entrances With Locks
      2. Glass Break Detectors
      3. Motion Detectors
      4. Under-the-Counter Duress Buttons
    2. Cannabis Dispensary Surveillance Cameras
  4. How to Create a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan
    1. Pinpoint & Meet Local Regulations
    2. Implement Security Best Practices
    3. Prepare for Scalability & Business Growth

Cannabis Security Requirements for Dispensaries

Because marijuana is still not federally legal, there are no national security requirements for cannabis dispensaries. Security requirements instead vary from state-to-state, depending on both overall cannabis legality and existing laws within the state.

While we recommend checking in with your state legislature for exact requirements, potential mandated security precautions include:

  • Alarm systems covering interior & perimeter
  • Silent duress alarms
  • Badging & tracking all visitors
  • Continuously recording surveillance cameras
  • Conducting annual third party security audits

Generally, it’s essential that cannabis dispensaries put security methods in place to monitor inventory & prevent intruders at several stages. Let’s dive into a few specific requirements all dispensaries should implement.

 forced entry protection for cannabis dispensaries

Forced Entry Protection for Cannabis Dispensaries

As with any business, glass windows, doors, & cases at cannabis dispensaries are incredibly vulnerable to attacks from intruders & thieves. Forced entry protection is your first line of defense from assailants, and is an essential part of security for any cannabis dispensary.

Exterior Fencing

If a dispensary is its own, independent building (rather than a storefront as part of a greater structure), exterior fencing can offer an essential first line of exterior security. Whether electric or covered in barbed wire, fencing can pose a clear barrier to intruders and dissuade potential thieves from breaking & entering entirely.

Reinforced Glass Windows & Doors

For exterior windows & doors, polycarbonate security glazing is the clear best choice for protection. Polycarbonate is composed of thermoplastic polymers that contain carbonate structures within their chemical makeup. This chemical structure flexes, absorbs, and deflects energy, rather than shattering. Nearly invisible upon installation, polycarbonate is an affordable and undetectable way to protect your dispensary.

Retrofit Display Case Smash & Grab Protection

Polycarbonate also provides extensive protection from interior glass retrofitting to existing display cases. Solutions such as the CaseShield retrofit security glazing system harness polycarbonate glazing to stop thieves who have already entered your business — over 250x stronger than standard glass and able to withstand strong attacks from smash & grab thieves. CaseShield™ also bolsters a sacrificial layer of scratch resistant film, protecting polycarbonate from scratching. This layer can be removed when damaged and replaced as needed — leading to long-lasting, nearly indefinite protection.

cannabis security systems and cameras for dispensaries

Cannabis Security Systems & Cameras for Dispensaries

Beyond forced entry prevention, Cannabis dispensaries need to prepare for situations where potential thieves find their way into your dispensary. Security alarm systems & surveillance software combine to protect dispensaries from liability and ensure swift measures can be taken in case of violence or theft.

Cannabis Dispensary Security Systems

Security systems alert staff & authorities in case of duress or attempted break-ins. Cannabis dispensaries need to implement diverse security systems across facilities to minimize the risk of cannabis or cash theft.

Secure Storage Areas & Entrances With Locks

It’s essential to install locks at various checkpoints throughout a dispensary; cannabis should never be readily available without the assistance of a staff-member. Requirements in your state may include:

  • Code-compliant, automatically-locking doors across dispensary entryways
  • High-security locks on doors for any limited-access room or cannabis storage area
  • Lock-boxes for cannabis delivery or transport to separate facility
  • Security locks on any fixture storing cannabis, including cabinets, drawers, and display cases

Glass Break Detectors

In cases of smash & grab theft, glass break detectors automatically alert authorities of an attempted robbery. There are two main types of glass break detectors, which are:

  • Acoustic Glass Break Sensors: Detects the sound of breakage using narrowband microphones.
  • Shock Glass-Break Sensors: Detects the vibrations of shattered glass using an electrical wire.

Whatever the option, glass break detectors ensure speedy responses to theft.

Motion Detectors

Essential for after hours security, motion detectors are especially useful for store interiors, storage areas, off-limit rooms, and spaces directly connected to exterior entryways. Similar to glass break detectors, motion sensors can connect directly to authorities for a swift response to overnight break-ins.

Under-the-Counter Duress Buttons

If all other security measures fail, covert duress buttons allow staff to alert authorities without compromising their own safety. Placed underneath a countertop, employees can press duress buttons that call the police without setting off other alarms within a dispensary — retrieving help and preventing the situation from escalating.

Cannabis Dispensary Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance is also essential to cannabis dispensary security, and often ties directly into security legislation & mandates. In fact, surveillance systems pose some of the most strict laws regarding dispensary security. Regulations vary from locality to locality, but take, for example, these surveillance requirements from Santa Cruz, California:

  • Cameras must clearly record all activity occurring within 20 feet of all points of entry & exit on licensed premises
  • Cameras must be placed in all rooms with exterior windows, exterior walls, and roof hatches
  • Areas where cannabis products are weighed, packed, stored, loaded, and unloaded for transportation, prepared, or moved within licensed premises shall be recorded
  • Limited-access areas shall be recorded
  • Security rooms shall be recorded
  • Licensed retailers and licensed microbusinesses shall record point-of-sale areas and areas where cannabis products are displayed for sale on the video surveillance system
  • Camera system shall be equipped with software allowing local authorities to login securely to cameras remotely

While extensive, such regulations are incredibly important; as cannabis is highly regulated, a lack of surveillance and faulty tracking can spell the end for a dispensary business. Whatever the regulations, cannabis dispensaries should constantly monitor entrances, windows, point-of-sale areas, and storage rooms to keep both employees and inventory safe.

States may also have different standards for camera resolution, frames per second, and footage storage; as with all other security measures, knowing your local guidelines is essential to proper implementation.

how to create a medical marijuana dispensary security plan

How to Create a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Security Plan

There are three key steps to building your own medical marijuana dispensary security plan — meeting local regulations, implementing security best practices, and preparing for future scalability.

1. Pinpoint & Meet Local Regulations

Cannabis dispensary security laws vary from state to state. Ensuring your business meets state regulations should be your top priority when creating a medical marijuana dispensary security plan; failing to do so will not only compromise your premises to security threats, but could result in your business losing its license entirely.

2. Implement Security Best Practices

Once state requirements are met, your dispensary should take additional steps to ensure security outside of mandated precautions. State regulations tend to be strict; however, there’s always more you can do to protect your dispensary. Make sure to take additional measures for forced entry prevention, holistic security systems, and surveillance cameras.

3. Prepare for Scalability & Business Growth

The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding; BDS Analytics, a leading cannabis data company, predicts global cannabis sales to grow from $30 billion in 2021 to $55 billion in 2026. Dispensaries should prepare for growth, and implement security measures that are easily scalable in case of expansion.

Gain Durable Glass Security for Your Dispensary With DefenseLite

By following state regulations, ensuring scalability, and implementing proper exterior security measures & systems, cannabis dispensaries can protect themselves in face of theft and ensure swift responses to potential danger.

Looking for reliable exterior and interior security systems for your dispensary? DefenseLite is here to help. Our retrofit security glazing systems offer seamless, retrofit installation over existing glass, with the protection of a polycarbonate shield that is 250x stronger than glass and durable scratch resistance thanks to a sacrificial film overlay. Book a free consultation today to protect your dispensary and jumpstart your medical marijuana dispensary security plan.