Growing Concern for Hemp and Marijuana Security

Over the last decade the legalization of Marijuana has thrived into a multi-billion dollar industry. Medical advancements and the positive impact it can make on the economy has created jobs, as well as the need for security to protect these assets. Some of the assets include; hemp derived CBD, industrial applications, personal care, food, consumer textiles, and supplements.

Tax Revenue

With these assets comes the growing concern for the illegal activity that involves theft of hemp and marijuana. A farmer in Washington has reported nearly $70,000 stolen in hemp, due to thieves mistaking the plant for marijuana.

“They think it’s something that it isn’t, and that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing,” said Matthew Morrell, the owner of MM Hay Services, LLC.

This “mistake,” although not, is becoming very common in the industry and frustrating the farmers that are attempting to make a living.

There has been a large influx of dispensaries, cultivators, and distributors within recent years and with the growing number of cannabis players, there is also a growing demand for security systems. These include intrusion alarms, video surveillance, and armored vehicle transportation. Furthermore, numerous cannabis distributors have licensing agreements spread around the globe, making security an important part of their business. “The proliferation of both legalized medical and recreational marijuana has, not surprisingly, led to a massive boom in dispensaries – and, with that boom, increased focus on these burgeoning businesses and their increasing security needs,” according to Evan Hicks of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Getting marijuana from growers to dispensaries and shops presents another layer of security concerns. Because the product is so in-demand and so valuable, it’s an appealing target for retail crime, from the minute it’s harvested.”

How can we prevent theft employee theft in the cannabis industry?

Firstly, hiring the appropriate person for the appropriate job is important. If you hire security that is not trained, or is paid too little, they may see an opportunity to take from the business. Us in the security industry, we’ve always heard the saying, “If you hire a thug, expect thug outcomes”.

According to the Marijuana Retail Report, “up to 90% of losses reported by dispensaries are due to employee theft.” This is a major cannabis security issue that business owners must consider seriously. Many of the systems already in place protect outsider theft and minimize the risk of employee theft.

Additionally, cannabis businesses should be particularly thorough in HR functions to mitigate the likelihood of issues in the first place. Many of these functions are actually compliance requirements. They often include:

  • Performing due diligence during hiring processes and ensuring thorough background checks.
  • Have a set of operating orders.
  • No free handouts. Discounting products is never a good idea.
  • Comprehensive training on operational security.

What are the state compliance regulations for cannabis security?

Because cannabis legalization has been enacted primarily at a state level, state cannabis security regulations do exist, and they’re fairly comprehensive. To make things more complex, they vary from state to state – so the security requirements in Michigan differ from those in, say, California.

While we won’t comprehensively cover the compliance regulations for every state (California’s Text of Regulations alone, under the Bureau of Cannabis Control, takes up 138 pages), here are some of the most common requirements:

  • Businesses must take sufficient safety measures to deter and prevent unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana (in other words, building access control).
  • In order to apply for marijuana licensing, documentation of security operations is needed. This often entails both system specifications (like the details of the video surveillance systems in use) and operational procedures (such as hours of access, security personnel, etc.).
  • Appropriate regulatory agencies must be notified in the event of an incident such as a theft, loss of product, or breach. In California, reporting must be carried out within 24 hours of the incident.
  • A variety of records must be kept (such as personnel information, inventory information – often from seed to product – and purchase information, etc.) and stored in a secure environment.
  • Licensed premises must have a video surveillance system. Many states specify that video quality must be at least 1280×720 pixels, and functional, unobstructed cameras are required universally in any areas where cannabis is handled. Commonly, visual records must enable audit trails for all inventory.
  • There must be adequate monitoring and storage of video surveillance recordings.
  • Storefront businesses typically require security personnel during at least the hours of operation, and, in some circumstances, 24/7.
  • There must be a functional alarm system.
  • Storage systems must be secure. Often, this requires integration with the alarm system so that unauthorized access triggers an alert.

Mayhem Solutions Group provides Security for various Cannabis and Hemp businesses in AZ, as well as across the U.S. If your company is in need of a consult, feel free to email us at or call us at 1-866-7MAYHEM.