Protecting a Budding Industry

Integrated security systems help manage cannabis facilities

The legalized cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in North America, and when it comes to the security of the facilities that grow it, the stakes are high. Legalized cannabis facilities are often the target of human-based threats like armed robbery or insider theft.

For example, last year two employees of Trulieve’s Midway distribution facility were arrested after investigators say they stole upwards of $135,000 in medical marijuana that was later recovered in nearby communities. Other key security concerns for legalized cannabis facilities include keeping staff and visitors safe on site and reducing incidents of workplace violence.

In addition to operating in a high-value environment, meeting compliance is a top-line priority for the legalized cannabis industry. Stringent regulations and security measures that are not only necessary but required by local government, can vary from state to state, and even between different cities; however, almost all require a form of alarm and surveillance system, audit trails that can be exported when required, and in many cases, access control systems that integrate with other solutions including video management platforms.

The Role of Integrated Security Systems
When considering the role of a security system, many assume its only purpose is to keep people in or out, when in reality it plays center stage for helping sites manage on site risk and meet compliances. From seed to sale, a physical security system can provide cannabis facilities with complete visibility of their products and combine the regulated requirements for access control, video management, reporting, and intrusion detection and prevention.

Competencies within a security system, like Gallagher’s Command Centre, can be used to ensure all staff have current security clearances, and health and safety certifications. Requirements, such as Security Cleared Individual (SCI), can be quickly and easily configured within security software. SCI exception reports, time and attendance records, evacuation, and mustering accounts, can all be generated, emailed, printed or downloaded in various formats – ideal for managing evidence as part of auditing regimes.

To ensure a safe and secure working environment for staff at cannabis facilities, access control solutions can support emergency lockdowns, drug and alcohol testing, and deter, detect, and respond to unauthorized entry on site through perimeter detection technology.

By implementing an effective security solution that is scalable and reliable, legalized cannabis facilities can safeguard their people and assets, maximize their operational efficiency, manage compliance including audits, and protect their revenue and brand reputation.

Medical and Consumer Markets
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (Aurora CO) is a global leader in the cannabis industry serving both the medical and consumer markets. Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta; Aurora is a pioneer in global cannabis dedicated to helping people improve their lives. With previous security systems coming to end of life, Aurora had an opportunity to consolidate and standardize.

To manage this process, Aurora brought on Mike Soberal as their senior director of corporate security, who along with his team, created a comprehensive document to vet competing access control systems. Included in this were several mandatory requirements, such as simple user interface, alarm and video management integrations, and the ability to comply with presence management requirements across multiple facilities.

Furthermore, Health Canada requires that cannabis companies produce reports of a Security Cleared Individual’s (SCI) presence aligned with video documentation. To comply with this regulation, Aurora needed a complete data synchronicity system that included cardholder, event, and configuration data. In addition, they required their solution to have the ability to configure reports in real-time or by set schedules, available from all locations.

Meeting the Requirements
Gallagher’s security solution met every requirement outlined by the vetting document Soberal and his team created. Presence management and alarm integration provide Aurora with the ability to track SCI’s and visitors alike, while alerting relevant individuals of system events. Gallagher’s Milestone XProtect® integration backs presence management data with video authentication and has an automated report generator that enables customized real-time and scheduled reports sent out through various methods. These solutions provide Aurora the ability to meet all security regulations required by Health Canada.

When asked to describe the transition process, Soberal described it as: “The smoothest installation, and every one of the guards and managers put in front of Gallagher Command Centre were blown away.” 

From curb to core, Aurora standardized their security solution while meeting Health Canada regulations across multiple facilities.

This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Security Today.

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