Having the proper security systems and standards in place is key to keeping your premises secure, your employees safe, and your customers happy.
Cannabis retail store operators must first ensure they comply with all mandatory security and safety requirements, based on the province they’re operating in. Additional information on provincial security requirements can be found at the end of this article.
While some provinces have specified a wide range of requirements, others have left it largely up to store designers and management. Consequently, many operators are choosing to implement additional security and loss prevention systems.
Physical Security Measures
Security expert Barry Davidson at David Hyde & Associates, recommends creating your security program at the store design stage and working with a professional to understand your location’s unique security and crime risks.
While extra physical security measures are important, “rarely are you just protecting property,” says Davidson. “Your security strategy must fit the context of the store.” For instance, perimeter protection, such as roll shutters, window protections, and surveillance and access control need to work together to protect the store. “Physical security measures must also take into account store operation and staff training and acceptance,” notes Davidson.
Nova Cannabis Stores in Alberta use this comprehensive approach. A Chief Security Director works with a loss prevention team to protect the stores. Nova Stores have additional physical security measures, including roll shutters on storefronts, extra cameras along with a 360-degree camera, card access, an advanced locking system for showcases, and shock and vibration sensors installed in any walls adjacent to other businesses.
Preventing Disturbances In and Around your Store
Once physical security measures have been addressed, operators must consider how to prevent disturbances in and around your store. Davidson says it is critical that “store operators and owners connect with and understand their surrounding community and neighbours.”
Davison suggests employing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies to “mitigate social disorder and potential risks to the store and ensure the safety of everybody in the area.” This includes lighting, spatial design, and the use of colour, along with traditional security strategies like guards, patrols, and barriers.
Working with External Security Companies and Local Law Enforcement
Beyond working with their neighbours, operators can also work with external security companies and local law enforcement to protect their store and keep their community safe.
Nova Cannabis Stores work closely with external security companies to respond to alarm calls and monitor their CCTV and alarm systems. “In addition to these measures, all stores are equipped with panic buttons in the event that there is an emergency, such as a robbery,” explains Cook. “All locations receive regular armored car deliveries and pickups for any coin drops or cash deposits going to the bank.”
Spiritleaf operates stores in Saskatchewan and Alberta and has worked with external security firms and the RCMP to establish security best practices for their stores. They ensure “local law enforcement are notified immediately of any illegal activity or disturbances,” says Nathan Noble, National Training Coordinator.
Training your Staff
Your security program will not be successful without the proper training and support of your staff.
Safety should be integrated into the “day-to-day training and culture of a store,” explains Davidson. He recommends that your training program “take into account perceived threats and quantified threats. This is critical to empowering staff [so they] know what to do should a situation arise and can identify solutions to potential issues.”
Staff must also recognize the heightened risk that a cannabis store operates in compared to traditional retail stores. Davidson suggests additional training around cash handling, teamwork in a crisis, and personal safety.
At Nova Cannabis Stores, employees can utilize the loss prevention team emergency on-call number 24/7 for any type of emergency response or advice. “The loss prevention team also provides in-store training to all staff and managers on a regular basis,” says Cook. The company’s electronic on-boarding process covers the general topics of loss prevention and health and safety. Staff use a case management system to report on every type of incident that may occur on site.
Similarly, Spiritleaf focuses on “safety and security training on day one of training to ensure that all staff feel confident and safe when working in our stores,” says Noble. “This includes communicating and logging any problematic customers and security issues.”
By taking this information and ensuring you have the appropriate tools in place—like panic buttons, barriers, and a saferoom—“your duty of care is met, and your staff are comfortable working in your space,” says Davidson.
Once you have consulted provincial recommendations, work with your local police and security providers to establish best practices and execute an individualized security plan.
Beyond keeping your store secure and your employees safe, security standards “have a direct impact on the quality of staff, insurance premiums, investor confidence, and overall business viability and sustainability,” says Davidson. “Ensure that you obtain professional advice from experts in your specific business and do your homework on anything that could put your business at risk.”
Provincial Store Security Minimum Requirements
Review the links below to learn about the minimum security requirements in your province.
- British Columbia: Cannabis Retail Store Licence Handbook
- Alberta: Section 3.3, Retail Cannabis Store Handbook
- Manitoba: Part 8, Terms and Conditions, Retail Cannabis License, Age-Restricted Store
- Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority website
- Ontario: residents can only purchase cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Store website
- Quebec: the SQDC is the only licensed retailer of non-medical cannabis in Quebec
- New Brunswick: Bill 17, Cannabis Management Corporation Act
- Prince Edward Island: Cannabis Policy and Legislation
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Cannabis Control Regulations under the Cannabis Control Act
- Nunavut: residents can only purchase cannabis online via Tweed
- Yukon: the only licensed retailer of cannabis is a temporary retail cannabis store run by the Yukon Liquor Corporation
- Northwest Territories: Retail Cannabis Framework Information Guide
- Nova Scotia: The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is the only authorized retailer of cannabis in the province.
Top photo courtesy of Spiritleaf