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Cannabis Security Crisis Management: Part 1

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

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Please welcome security expert and guest author Jeff Dingle from the National Investigative Training Academy (NITA), America's largest online provider of investigator and security training. This is the third in a series of articles from Dingle regarding security training for the cannabis industry (read the first, Quality Training: Cannabis Industry Benefits from Tech and the second, Cannabis Dispensary Customer Service: First Step to Security).


Below, in Part 1 of this two-part segment, Dingle describes the nature of crisis management and how it relates to cannabis businesses—particularly retail dispensaries.

 

Cannabis Security Crisis Management. I recently had a long discussion with a woman who is nationally recognized as a personal protection specialist and instructor. Our discussion went to crisis management and preparation. She commented "everything is good…until it isn't."

Police disrupt an urban riot.
Police disrupt an urban riot.

Cannabis Security Crisis Management

Simple words, powerful meaning. I see this a lot in the cannabis industry. We are too focused in the now and too centered on sales and profit to really consider what should be done to prepare for problems. Basic crisis management tells us to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. However, any good crisis management program reminds us that hope is not a strategy.


"Basic crisis management tells us to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but any good crisis management program reminds us that hope is not a strategy."

Cannabis Security Crisis Management: Four Outcomes

When looking at crisis management, there are only four outcomes.

  • You prepare.

  • You do not prepare.

  • You experience an issue.

  • You do not experience an issue.

If you don't experience an issue, then it doesn't matter if you have prepared. If you do have an issue, but you have prepared, then your preparation at best will mitigate or lessen the impact and at worst limit your liability from lawsuits.


If you do have an issue and did not prepare, expect your problems to be greater and your liability to be significant. Let's recap below:

  1. No preparation + no issue = good.

  2. Preparation + no issue = good.

  3. Preparation + issue = okay.

  4. No preparation + issue = very bad.

an urban riot with teargas
How safe is your cannabis business?

Cannabis Security Crisis Management: Preparation for Possibilities

A business problem is that we may be preparing for things that never happen. This means spending money on things that might never happen. In this framework, it is important to understand the difference between possible and probable.


"Probability, on the other hand, is a different issue. Probability is the likelihood that something will occur."

Almost anything is possible. But there is no gray area. Either something is possible or it is not. Probability, on the other hand, is a different issue. Probability is the likelihood that something will occur.


Focus on what is probable. However, what is probable depends on many factors.

A man dispenses some loose-leaf cannabis from a jar at a commercial cannabis dispensary
Cannabis dispensaries are targets during riots

Cannabis Security Crisis Management: Protecting a Business

We are seeing a fundamental change in the way we need to look at protecting a cannabis business. In my career, there have been several specific incidents that have changed how we view the protection of cannabis facilities.


The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma changed the way security procedures allow unknown vehicles to park or get close to buildings. Building "stand-off" was increased.


"The recent events surrounding George Floyd and others now demand that we actively prepare for protests, riots, and civil unrest."

The events of September 11th drastically changed and increased our general view of security operations and forced airlines to increase the security of cockpit doors during flights, while also adding a revised policy that mandated that cockpit doors remain secured during flights. The famous Shoe Bomber forced a requirement that passengers remove and x-ray shoes before boarding an airplane.


Preparation for Protests, Riots, & Civil Unrest

The recent events surrounding George Floyd and others now demand that we actively prepare for protests, riots, and civil unrest. I have taught security operations to government and private sector audiences for the past 20 years. We have always taught "protest management." However, with a few isolated exceptions, we did not actually see widespread looting and riots in the United States prior to the 2020 death of George Floyd.


The incidents surrounding George Floyd's death started another fundamental change. While there is a need to support the First Amendment, we also must be ready to deal with the reality of protests that turn violent.


"The first targets of looting are: High value, high demand products. This includes electronics stores, liquor stores, and cannabis dispensaries."

The protests following Floyd's death led to damage and looting in multiple major cities across the U.S. While many of the protests were civil, others took the opportunity to burglarize and damage stores. The first targets of looting are: High value and high demand products. This includes electronics stores, liquor stores, and cannabis dispensaries. The property damage and financial loss resulting from the 2020 riots was extraordinary.

A cannabis dispensary in Iowa.
Cannabis retail outlets must plan for riots and looting

Your Cannabis Business May Be A Target

You need to accept the realization that, in the event of a protest/demonstration in your area, your cannabis business may be a target and that you need to prepare for this scenario. As with the George Floyd/BLM protests, unrest extended far beyond where the event actually occurred. In fact, the targets of looting in most cases had no connection to the event that started the protests.


In order for cannabis businesses to properly prepare, the following things need to be accomplished. Note that some of the issues are physical, while others are related to policy or procedure.



Jeff Dingle, NITA

 

About the Author

Jeff Dingle is a career security and training professional who specializes in high risk/high threat operations. His experience includes senior management positions with the federal government and a variety of companies.


Dingle has partnered with NITA to provide online cannabis industry security training. He can be reached at security-cannabis@usa.net.

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