Securing and Fortifying Dispensaries
Now that some forms of drugs have been legalized in a number of states in the U.S. (and a number of countries around the world. Many people with an entrepreneurial spirit are thinking about or opening up dispensaries to pursue the new business opportunity at hand. The size of the recreational cannabis market in the U.S is estimated at about $55B. Bigger than both the video game and doughnut market in the U.S. Quite an opportunity for those up for a challenge. That being said you need to think through all aspects of the business.
If you are an entrepreneur looking to get into the space the best way to go about this is to read up on as many articles as you can. Articles by the site Bplans articulate what you need to think of when choosing a spot for your dispensary and what kind of competition and capital needs you might have. Others like Expert Market focus on the marketing and digital strategy of your new dispensary. That being said many forget one important piece – how to secure your dispensary and keep you and your customers safe.
Maintaining the security of a dispensary
What comes to your mind when you think of securing your dispensary? The obvious security threats might be theft, armed robbery or general disturbance. The list of potential risks are quite large and some might argue they are larger than other risks given the business you have chosen. Given the multiple risks you need to have a plan for securing your dispensary, your business. When we think about the security of a business we think about 3 main concepts: 1) controlling the access points to your place of business; 2) monitoring what happens in your place of business (both physically and virtually); 3) making sure that any transactions are being conducted safely and securely.
Controlling the access points to your place of business
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about access to your business is the door (or doors) to your business. Depending on the area in which your business is located and the crime demographics of the surrounding neighborhoods you might want the ability to control who enters and exits your dispensary. The door to your place of business is key to that but so are the windows and other potential points of entry.
Doors – Doors come in all shapes, makes and sizes. Most doors sold in the U.S. tend to be pretty standard and have a bolt lock or a second locking mechanism at best. More so storefront doors can be made of glass in order to allow people to see what is being sold inside the store. Given that you may have a lot of product in your store or that people may end up using cash to pay for the product they buy it would be wise to consider having a higher security door. These doors can be made of wood, steel or even glass. As long as they have multiple locking systems and are sturdy you can easily find doors that are both forced entry resistant and even bulletproof. Since you won’t be locking and unlocking the door all the time it would also be wise to have a maglock and exit button be installed with your door. That way you can decide who to let in and who not to let out.
Windows – Windows are usually made out of glass and that makes them vulnerable. It is an easy access point for burglars but also a security concern if you are concerned with any kind of firearm incident. You can always look to put up security screens or bars at night but if you want to have protection during the day it is best to think of higher end security glass. Bullet resistant glass or Forced Entry resistant glass are both good options for enhanced security and are used by many business including banks and convenience stores. You can also add protective glass inside your establish meant in key points such as the checkout counter.
Walls – Most walls in the U.S. are made out of then thin easily penetrable material meaning if anyone wants to get or shoot through them they can. You can easily increase the security of your walls by adding fiberglass wall panels or Kevlar wall panels. These enhancements increase the difficulty of getting through your walls and come in different levels of protection. The panels can also be put into counters and other features of your store.
Monitoring Your Dispensary
Hopefully you will have a lot of people coming and going in your place of business. Lots of traffic. If that is the case you can’t rely on just your eyes to see what is happening around the store. The best solution to understanding what is happening is to install security cameras. These cameras come in all sorts and sizes and usually require a system of video recorders to maintain the data which they record. The placement of the security cameras is crucial. They need to see everything that happens across the store especially where your product and payment systems are. You also want to think about covering all entrances and exits.
That being said don’t ever rely just on cameras for your security. The footage you capture is good for spotting an after the fact crime or security threat but not great at actually preventing or slowing down those threats. There are new AI security camera systems that can warn you in advance of threats potentially happen and have you preempt those attacks. It might be worth considering one of these systems.
Securing cannabis transactions
Your business is likely to accept a number of different payment types some need physical security more than others. Purchases with credit cards or debit cards will require a secure point of sale or registry but make sure that the card accepting is in plane sight and cannot be easily tampered with. When dealing with cash transactions it is wise to consider adding some extra layer of security such as a transaction window or at the very least a counter to create a barrier between yourself and the customer you are transacting the cash with. Once you have the cash in your registry or cash drawer it is also important to remove the cash from the drawer once a certain amount has been reached and move the excess cash to a safe or other type of secure space.