Controlled Substances Storage and Security

By Bernhard Mehl
July 15, 2019

The cannabis industry is risky enough without discussing security protocols. But every new business, cannabis companies included, needs to find a way to protect its product and facility. Before you start purchasing cameras and putting up fences, be sure to do your homework. Cannabis security laws differ from state to state, so make sure you know what’s required first. Cannabis is also subject to DEA rules and regulations; specifically, regulation 21CFR 1301.72, so be sure to read that, as well. Once you’ve compiled a list of basic requirements, you’re ready to start considering different security options. 

As a cannabis business owner, you have countless options when purchasing security methods. According to 21CFR 1301.72, cannabis must be stored in modular vault systems and TL 30 safes and be protected using electronic security. Outside of those basic requirements, the security of your facility and your product is left up to you. Curious about the best security methods for cannabis businesses? Find our list complete with recommendations below:

Prioritize your assets

When purchasing security, it’s a rookie mistake to try to purchase the same high level of security for all products in your facility. Instead, spread your money out by prioritizing which products need more security. For example, most people tend to think of plants as a cannabis business’ best asset, but a thief will gravitate towards the dried product because it’s easier to steal. By this logic, it would be more beneficial to upgrade your security on all dried products first. 

Invest in internal and external security protocols

Your business can experience internal and external theft, so it’s a good idea to invest in internal and external security protocols. For example, you may already have fences around your facility, but your storage containers, safes, and vaults inside your facility should be bolted to the ground for extra security. You can find examples of internal and external security measures farther down this list. 

Don’t hide your security system...

A hidden security system makes thieves think your business doesn’t have a security system. Signs are useful, but they won’t deter a burglar or intruder unless visible security paraphernalia accompanies them. You can make your security system more visible by installing cameras in plain view and at eye level, by telling people about your business’ security system, and by detailing your facility’s security on your website. As an added bonus, cameras at eye level are more likely to capture an intruder’s face, making it easier to identify them. 

...but keep some things private

On the other hand, to prevent internal theft, it’s better to keep some elements of your storage and security system a secret. Implement an access control system like Kisi’s to restrict access to a select group of people. Also, create individual security codes and encourage employees to keep them private. An employee who knows everything about your security system can quickly become a liability, as he or she is also capable of dismantling it. 


Go above and beyond state requirements

Your state’s requirements should be treated as minimums. In most cases, purchasing more security than your state demands is an easy way to make sure your facility is protected on multiple levels. Consider security and storage measures that laws don’t mention, like extra security on doors, badges with photo IDs, and regular verifications of visitor data. The Kisi Reader Pro is a smart, inexpensive way to add a layer of protection to any door. Combine it with Doorbird for even more security capabilities. 

Your facility should be as secure as a bank

A good measure of security for a cannabis facility is to be as secure as a bank. This makes the most sense if your facility, like many other cannabis businesses, stores large amounts of cash on-site. Many security measures and protocols that banks use can be easily transferred to a cannabis setting. Visit your nearest bank and take notes - do you see anything your facility could use? 

System, guards, or both?

One of the big questions in cannabis security is whether a security system is better than a team of security guards. A security system can provide you with real time alerts and offers customized support for your facility. Security guards can be more expensive, but they are a great solution for large properties. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both before you decide for your business. 

Cultivate a good relationship with local law enforcement

Sometimes, maintaining your security system means stepping outside of your facility and into the community. Reach out to local law enforcement and educate them about your business and how you operate. Offer to walk them through your facility and explain what security measures you already have in place. This has a twofold effect; first, if an incident ever occurs on your property, you have a great working relationship with the officials who will be handling your case. Second, by educating local law enforcement you are further establishing your business as an important branch of your community. 

Cannabis storage and security should be taken seriously. By doing more than the bare minimum, you can ensure that your product and facility are safe and secure. Customize your security to fit your business’ unique needs. 

Additional Resources

Looking for more ways to store and secure your cannabis products? These websites may help:

  • CustomVault offers quick and easy security planning and installation. They have over 30 years of experience in the cannabis industry, so they understand your business’ security challenges. They also offer consulting services so you fully understand your state’s security requirements before the installation process begins. They even have transportation security for businesses who move cash and product between different points in the cannabis supply chain. 
  • Spacesaver has a line of products specifically for storing cannabis in dispensaries. They have a variety of storage systems so you can choose the one that’s right for your space constraints and budget. They offer solutions for your front room, back room, and every room inbetween. If you’re looking for convenient, professional storage, Spacesaver is a great choice. 
  • CVault specializes in containers that keep your product fresher, longer. Their innovative products save you time, money, and inventory all at a reasonable price. Besides just storage containers, CVault offers humidity packs, digital hygrometers, and more. They are top rated by multiple cannabis companies and represent a smart choice for the budget-conscious dispensary owner. 

This article by Sturdy Safe compares all of their vault and safe products so you can find the one that’s right for your business. Some of their best features include odorless safes, custom sizing, thick steel walls, and smaller safes inside larger ones. The article even has videos to show you exactly how Sturdy Safe’s products hold up to human forces.

For more information about cannabis security plan, check out our guide.

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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