While marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the United States federal government (it really is time for that to be reconsidered, isn’t it?), in states throughout the country, cannabis use is medicinally and/or recreationally legal.
In other words, the sale and/or consumption of marijuana in the United States is a paradox. In states where the sale and consumption of marijuana, guidelines that pertain to the physical security of enterprises that grow, manufacture, and sell the plant and its derivatives are limited, which further complicates its paradoxical nature.
The recent shift in the legalization of the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana has sparked what many have dubbed a “Green Rush”, as many entrepreneurs have seen the opportunity – and taken that opportunity – to cash in on the legal cannabis industry. In fact, according to industry research, it has become one of the fastest growing industries in the country.
In April of 2020, Cannabis Benchmarks reported that the spot price for weed was valued at more than $1,300 per pound, a staggering amount that made the cultivation of cannabis more profitable than the cultivation of things like wheat, corn, soybeans, and other commodity-based crops. Due to the valuable nature of cannabis, it is highly sought after.
According to the Arcview Group, the marijuana industry was worth an estimated $5.7 and $6.7 billion in 2015, and in 2019, the sales of legal cannabis grew to an astounding $14.9 billion, and by 2024, it is projected that the industry will be worth an estimated $42.7 billion globally, at least partially in part fueled by enthusiastic venture capital pouring into the industry.
It’s clear to see that the value of cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, and that its value will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. As such, dispensaries and other organizations that are associated with the production, distribution, and sale of the product, are common targets of theft.
If you own and operate a cannabis business, finding a quality, reliable security company to safeguard your business is an absolute must; a security company that you can rely on to protect your investment and revenue, as well as to ensure your operation is compliant with applicable standards.
Unfortunately though because the guidelines related to the physical security of cannabis-related establishments, security for each sector of the legal weed economy is challenging, just like it is finding reliable 420-friendly banking institutions.
Unique Challenges in Security Cannabis-Related Businesses
So, what exactly are the security challenges of the legal marijuana industry? There are a few. Several reports have revealed that cannabis organizations are vulnerable to an array of threats. The assets of cultivators, distributors, and sellers of cannabis are highly susceptible to robbery, burglary, and theft.
The burglary of an Oregon-based cannabis warehouse that amounted in the theft of more than $1 million of products in 2019 illustrates this susceptibility of marijuana-related organizations. Also in 2019, the robberies of legal marijuana cultivators in Humboldt County, California reached what was said to be “borderline epidemic proportions”, further illustrating the vulnerability to theft.
The above aren’t the only criminal instances that have occurred. Other incidents that have affected the legal cannabis industry include retaliation from cultivators and dealers who grow and sell the crop illegally, who have vandalized and harassed legitimate operations and the people that own and operate them. Similar to other sectors in the business world, owners, employees, and guests of legal cannabis organizations are susceptible to workplace violence.
The above said, it is clear that the legitimate marijuana industry may be emerging, but it remains controversial, and it is highly vulnerable to both legal and reputational hazards.
The Best Cannabis Security Companies of 2023
The unique security challenges that marijuana cultivators, distributors, and dispensaries face have opened up the door to an entirely new industry: cannabis security. Entrepreneurs have heeded the call for the security that business owners in the marijuana sector require, and as such, numerous cannabis security companies have come onto the scene.
From surveillance to armored guards and trucks, there are several different security options available to cannabis retailers. Selecting a security company that will best suit the needs of your business and that will provide the protection that you require is an absolute must, but with so many different options, trying to decide which security company to choose can seem like a daunting task.
That said, in an effort to help business owners in the cannabis industry select a security company that will cover all of their needs, we have assembled a list of the best companies that specialize in marijuana security. It’s important to note that these services are not available in all regions, but the list should be able to guide you with making an informed decision.
MPS Security Service
Founded in 2003, long before marijuana was legalized for medicinal use, MPS Security Service is a subsidiary of National Business Investigations, Inc. Based out of Murietta, California, the company quickly realized that there was a growing need for security solutions in the medical marijuana industry, and as such, they launched MPS Security Service.
Since their establishment in 2003, the company has built a solid reputation providing exclusive contractors providing premium-quality, reliable security for two of the biggest cannabis-themed events: the 420 Denver Cannabis Cup and Seattle’s Hempfest.
MPS Security is best-known for their armored vehicles, which are really second to none, and include Brinks and other transportation services for cannabis retailers, cultivators, and medical marijuana dispensaries throughout several states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, and Maryland.
Armored vehicles aren’t all that MPS Security provides; the agency also offers a variety of other services for marijuana-based businesses, such as security consultation, security systems, armed and unarmed guards, and even revenue protection.
Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Cannaguard has become one of the leading providers of services in the cannabis security space. The company specializes in providing transportation services to marijuana dispensaries throughout several states, including Washington and Oregon, and recently, they just included California.
In addition to transportation, Cannaguard Security also offers consulting and security solutions for retailers that specialize in cannabis throughout the United States, too.
Cannaguard has is well-versed in cannabis compliance in California, Oregon, and Washington. The company has also embraced advanced technologies for their security systems that utilize mobile applications. These technologies enable cannabis business owners to keep tabs on their security using real time video that they can access and view anywhere in the world.
Not only does Cannaguard offer transport and consulting services, but other security services that they provide include:
- Electronic surveillance
- Cash and product tracking
- IT services
- Asset protection
Cannabis dispensaries that are located on the west coast and are seeking top-quality, reliable security services, Cannaguard is highly recommended. As the legal cannabis market continues to grow, it is projected that Cannaguard’s territory will continue to expand.
Canna Security America
Established in 2009, Canna Security America is based in Denver, Colorado, and they service all states where medical and recreational cannabis has been legalized. Touting the title of the “first national security solutions provider for the marijuana industry”, Canna Security America provides a variety of services for cannabis dispensaries, including:
- Physical security guards
- Compliance consulting
- Alarm systems
- Video surveillance
In addition to the above, Canna Security America also recently enhanced their fleet of armored transportation vehicles to include Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans, which are outfitted with the most cutting-edge technologies, such as GPS tracking, bullet-resistant materials, and even 4-point camera systems that stream to the company’s command center on a constant basis.
Cannabis dispensary owners that are seeing high-quality transportation security would definitely be wise to consider researching and speaking with Canna Security America.
Operational Security Solutions
Operational Security Solutions was founded in 2016 and at the time of writing, they were only providing security services for cannabis dispensaries that are located in the State of California.
While Operational Security Solutions may be relatively new, but they have certainly established themselves as a reputable source in the marijuana industry, as they were founded by highly experienced professionals who are well-versed in the security, and who are well-versed in cannabis compliance and risk management.
At present time, Operational Security Solutions is currently registered with the US Department of Treasury and the State of California as a money services business, which enables the organization to transport, deposit, and transfer cash in an extremely secure manner. It is expected that this unique advantage, combined with quality services and results, will allow the company to experience continued growth and to become a top competitor with some of the biggest and best-known marijuana security companies.
Senseon Secure Access
Of all the marijuana security companies featured on our list thus far, Senseon Secure Access is perhaps the most unique. That’s because the organization offers a different kind of security service for dispensers of marijuana products. Senseon focuses on designing smart cabinetry locks for retailers of cannabis products, and their locks not only meet, but they exceed state compliance regulations.
In the past few years, the need for this kind of technology has increased, and Senseon is leading the way for dispensaries to store, showcase, and access the merchandise they offer.
What set the cabinetry locks that Senseon Secure Access offers is the state-of-the-art features that their locks are outfitted with. These features include:
- Automatic relocking capabilities
- Programmable RFID entry
- Customizable staff permissions
The proximity reader that Senseon offers can support as many as 15 entry methods, so it’s ideal for large-scale dispensaries that employ a sizable staff. Installing their locks is easy, and they’re completely invisible, which adds further enhances their effectiveness. There’s no need for keys, which aids in their effectiveness, too, as there’s no need to worry about misplaced keys falling into the wrong hands or being stolen, further reducing the risk of theft.
Cure8 IT Services
A leading cannabis IT service provider, Cure8 specializes in providing professional-grade technology to marijuana businesses, assisting them every step of the way, from start-up until they are well-established and successful. With emerging partners in technology and a dedicated staff of IT security professionals, Cure8 is the trusted security provider of many cannabis-based organizations.
Whether on the premises of your facility or in the cloud, Cure8 can assist you with safeguarding your cannabis infrastructure. As an IT service provider that provided dedicated services for the cannabis industry, they can seamlessly help your business with planning, procuring, installing, securing, managing, and scaling your operations.
Cure8 is a service-based company that specializes in top-quality data security solutions. They know that the security of a cannabis company’s data and facility are crucial, and as such, Cure8 utilizes the most advanced technologies and tools to provide the highest quality data security services to protect IT systems.
Security Compliance Regulations for Cannabis Businesses
While it is true that the security guidelines provided by US states where cannabis cultivation, distribution, and sale are legal are limited, some regulations do exist; however, the recommendations vary from state to state, which can make things complicated. For instance, the security regulations in Oregon may differ from the regulations that are offered in California.
That said, the following is a basic overview of some of the most common security compliance standards:
- Cannabis businesses must adopt proper security measures in order to dissuade and prevent illegal access to locations where marijuana is stored on the premises of their property (building access control).
- In order to apply for a marijuana license, documentation of security operations is required. System specifications, such as the specific details of an organization’s video surveillance system, as well as operational procedures, are usually included; security personnel and hours of operation, for example.
- In the event that theft, breach, or product loss occurs, the business owner must contact the proper regulatory bodies in a specific amount of time.
- Several records need to be maintained and stored in a safe environment. These records include personal information, inventory information (usually from seed to product), and purchase information needs to be completed, filed, and stored.
- Licensed establishments must have video surveillance systems, and the footage collected must be properly monitored and stored.
- Alarm systems must be functional
- Storefront businesses often need to have security guards during business hours, at least, and in some cases, they are required 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Herb CEO Summary
While some bought into the dream that in a post-legalized world securing hard-grown cannabis would become a worry of the past. However that dream has largely failed to materialize for many growers, particularly on the west coast, who have been repeatedly targeted by criminals, in one instance those criminals were sheriffs themselves.
There is no denying that the lack of federal legalization and a fully mature cannabis-friendly financial support network have hindered well-intentioned cannabis cultivators and processors when it comes to securing their investments.
From our perspective it’s a real shame. States have gleefully passed legalization legislation frothing at the mouth over new tax revenue streams but at the same time many states seem to have done little to help guarantee the safety of these cannabusinesses, at least in comparison to other non-green segments.
Fortunately cannabis-specific security companies are becoming more popular as a solution to prevent theft when the government fails. Until our politicians get their acts together and the good plant is federally legalized we imagine it will largely fall on the shoulders of state-level security firms to help protect this burgeoning new industry.