As more states around the country legalize the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, the demand for this controlled substance has increased exponentially. In 2020, legal sales of cannabis hit a record $17.5 billion, a 46% increase from the previous year. This increase has also led to a rise in dispensaries in the states where cannabis use is legal. With such high demand for this controversial substance, dispensaries must take steps to protect their cash and assets. Many dispensaries may decide that hiring a designated security guard is the best way to protect their business, inventory, and employees.
What is Dispensary Security?
Dispensary security is a job that entails protecting the assets and premises of a cannabis dispensary. These security guards ensure that no unauthorized persons are at the dispensary. They may accomplish this by monitoring surveillance equipment and standing near the entrance to keep an eye on those coming in and out. Additionally, dispensary guards often monitor alarms, review camera footage, watch for theft or armed burglary, and ensure that the other employees at the dispensary are safe.
Dispensary security may involve armed and unarmed roles. The primary difference between the two is that an unarmed security guard does not have a weapon, while armed security guards typically carry a firearm or protective weapon. Unarmed guards can blend into a crowd if needed, while armed guards provide a clear, visual defense. In many cases, the mere presence of an armed guard is enough to deter potential criminals.
Why Security Guards are Essential for Cannabis Dispensaries
Although cannabis is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level, its demand is higher now than ever in the states that legally sell it. For this reason, many dispensaries have difficulty opening accounts with national banks. As a result, many of their sales are cash purchases. The combination of high-demand assets plus thousands of dollars in cash on-site makes dispensaries an obvious target for theft or armed burglary. A security presence is important to deter criminal activities and to protect patrons and employees in the case of an armed robbery attempt.
Cannabis is a low-profile item, making it easy to conceal if stolen. That is why dispensaries need to have a surveillance system with someone trained to monitor the cameras and equipment. This added layer of visual security may be enough to dissuade potential thieves.
Requirements to Be a Dispensary Security Guard
It is important for anyone interested in becoming a security professional for dispensaries to become trained and qualified as a security guard. Post-high school education is typically not required for these positions; however, many employers prefer to hire someone with military or law enforcement experience. Armed guards should receive additional training and secure their firearms certification and license.
Security guards who can also monitor and efficiently use surveillance equipment may find their skills more marketable, so it can also be beneficial to get a technical degree in electrical technology or a related field. Gaining experience with surveillance equipment is an excellent way for aspiring security professionals to distinguish themselves. It is also beneficial for someone looking to specialize in dispensary security to enroll in continuing education courses that cover specific cannabis security training. Courses like these (such as those provided by NITA) cover essential topics such as surveillance, locks and keys, light systems, and perimeter training.
Learn more about how to build a security team.
Risks When Providing Security for Dispensaries
There are inherent risks with any security job. Guards are the first line of defense between dangerous individuals and innocent people. While there are always risks of confrontation with non-violent offenders, the most serious potential risk would be encountering an armed criminal intending to steal from the dispensary. In this instance, an armed security guard with proper firearm training can mitigate much of the risk simply by providing a forceful deterrent.
Interested in pursuing a job in cannabis dispensary security? Explore NITA’s Security Training for Cannabis Dispensaries course, and learn how the proper training can help sharpen your skills and advance your career.
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