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Cannabis Security Crisis Management: Part 2

Updated: Aug 24, 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 2 of this two-part segment, Dingle describes the nature of crisis management and how it relates to cannabis businesses—particularly retail dispensaries. To read Part 1, click here.

 

Cannabis Security Crisis Management - Steps

Cannabis Security Crisis Management. In order for cannabis businesses to prepare for crime and burglary incidences, the following things should be accomplished. Note that some of the issues are physical, while others are related to policy or procedure.

Security cameras span the perimeter of a cannabis business
Is your cannabis business secure?

1. Cannabis Security Crisis Management — Potential Targets

Recognize that you are a potential target of looters and appropriately prepare.


Acknowledgement is the first step. Acknowledge it. Looting is a crime of opportunity and targets always include high value, easy to move, easy to sell products. As a cannabis business, you are a huge target.


You may be a target simply because of your location. Or perhaps because you are adjacent to others who are targets. Recent events show that protests/riots can happen quickly and are unpredictable, but are often located in an area where an "incident" has occurred. Consider your location and the history of protests/riots/looting in your city and surrounding area. Consider the businesses are near you. Pay special attention to the news. Unrest often happens quickly after an incident.


Three elements to consider when developing an emergency operations strategy are time, resources, and money. When time is limited—such as during a spontaneous civil protest—operations management must rely on the expedient deployment of assets. This is why preparation is so important. You need to be ready to act.


Consider having an independent security audit to make sure you have addressed every issue and haven’t missed anything. A new pair of eyes might see something that you didn't.

A budtender measures out a cannabis sample
Cannabis dispensaries are high-profile targets for thieves

2. Cannabis Security Crisis Management — Shut Down Plan

Have a plan to quickly shut down operations.


Strategies must be in place to quickly mobilize necessary assets to protect your facilities. A shutdown of your facility will happen one of two ways, either completed far in advance of anticipated trouble or as a result of eminent threats.


Preparation includes putting appropriate policies into place, including who makes the call to shut down. There should be a single person designated to make this decision. Your facility should have a plan and be ready to put the plan into place. Be prepared to board up, which includes having material and tools available to board up and having the personnel assigned and available to do the work.


Understand that this requires an investment that you might never use, but also understand that the middle of a protest is not the time to be looking for materials, supplies and people to do the work. Realize material and supplies become scarce when everyone else is also looking for them.


Consider installing security shutters on your doors and windows. Security shutters can be easily and quickly deployed and will prevent or minimize damage. Be sure to check local ordinances, as some cities (including Minneapolis) prohibit the installation of security shutters because "external shutters cause visual blight" and create the impression that an area is "unsafe" and "troublesome."

How safe is your cannabis business?
How safe if your cannabis business?

3. Cannabis Security Crisis Management — Secure Product & Cash

Have a plan to quickly and safely either move or secure your product and cash.


Cannabis businesses typically involve significant amounts of cash. Ideally, you should be prepared to move your inventory and cash to a predetermined safe location. Do not underestimate the potential damage to your facility. Damage can be significant, and random burning of commercial properties is common during these protests. If you are using contract armored services, work your plans with your armored carrier long before you need it.


There is a cost benefit to preparation. If your emergency operation strategy is in place ahead of an incident, fewer assets will be needed. This can lower the cost to effectively respond and stabilize an incident.

Is your cannabis business secure?
Looters love to target cannabis businesses

4. Cannabis Security Crisis Management — Clearly Marked Property Address

Ensure that your property address is clearly marked.


If police and fire resources are available, make sure they are able to quickly find your property. Make sure your address is clearly marked. Again, this is especially important if your windows and doors are boarded. Spray paint your address on the boards. Protests bring in police and fire resources that are not local and may not be familiar with your business.

How tight is your cannabis business security?
Security should be a top focus of cannabis businesses

5. Cannabis Security Crisis Management — Insurance Coverage

Verify your insurance coverage for riots and protests.


Business insurance may not cover loss or damage due to public unrest. Verify with your insurance carrier that your coverage includes riots and intentional damage and clarify the definition of "protests" and "riots."


If you are impacted by a protest, riot or looting event be sure to get everyone involved together after the fact to discuss the event. Topics should include what worked, what went wrong and what should be done differently the next time. Generally, appropriate regulatory agencies must be notified in the event of an incident such as a theft, loss of product, or breach. In California, reporting must be carried out within 24 hours of the incident.


Be prepared to justify your actions and planning (or lack of) in the event of an incident. Why did you have security officers or why did you not have security officers? Why were they armed? Why were they not armed? Your liability in a situation may rest on your ability to justify your actions.


The likelihood of a security officer shooting someone is dramatically reduced if they do not have a weapon. On the other hand, if you have armed security officers, you must have a plan to deal with someone getting shot. The probability of someone eventually getting shot is better than average if you have armed people. Do you have a good first aid kit? Is it sufficient to handle a gunshot?


It's best to address these issues now, before an incident occurs or is expected. Your business might never be in the middle of a protest, but being ready makes you smart.


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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