Security training for cannabis dispensaries is effective, accessible and affordable

Oct. 28, 2021
Online training can fit any schedule or shift and builds confidence and efficient operations

Earlier this year, an individual in Oregon killed his father in an RV park, took his truck and during his escape drove over an elderly couple from Pensacola, Florida killing the husband. He then drove to a cannabis dispensary in North Bend Oregon and shot and killed a 47-year-old woman. The suspect was arrested the following day 2,000 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This incident demonstrated that problems may not originate because the location is a cannabis dispensary and that dispensaries are not immune from outside, sometimes unrelated problems.

When dealing with security issues at a dispensary, as complex as issues can be, the options are actually very few; either you train your security personnel, or you don’t, and either you have issues, or you don’t.

If you train your security personnel and you don’t have a problem, you’re good. Also, if you don’t train your security people and you don’t have a problem, you’re still good.

If you train your security people and you do have a problem, hopefully, the training will help to minimize the damage, but problems are still serious. However, if you don’t train your security personnel and there is an issue, that could be extremely serious – and costly. The lack of training to help prevent and mitigate an issue can create liability issues. Why didn’t you prepare?  With high-quality training readily and cost-efficiently available through online sources, it’s practically negligent to not take advantage of the opportunities.

Security Training is a No-Brainer

A key to maintaining a problem-free organization is to make sure that your people are competent and know what they are doing. This is especially important in the marijuana business, where the product is high value and the customer base may be potentially problematic.

From a security standpoint, training is necessary across two very specific areas – security operations and firearms.  In both cases, most states mandate a basic level of training, and in both cases,  the mandated training is extraordinarily inadequate to meet the needs of most cannabis dispensaries.

With security operations, the state-required training to acquire a “security officer” license is minimal. State-mandated security officer training generally covers requirements to simply meet the state standards but usually doesn’t cover the skill set needed to be an effective security officer.

“Conflict resolution is an extremely important skill,” says Stephen Brooks a Criminal Investigator with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Alcoholic Beverage, Tobacco and Medical Marijuana. “Being able to not have to resort to force and being able to calm a hostile situation is probably the most important skill a dispensary security officer can have, but that is not taught in state-mandated classes.”

Understanding broad security concepts are also generally not taught to security officers. It is beneficial for line-level security personnel to not only understand what is expected of them but why they are doing what they do. Training is easily accessible. Time is money and in recent years there has been a significant increase in online and digital training.  Quality online training can be completed when convenient and at a pace that works for officers in training.

Know Your Firearms

Similar issues exist in firearms training. One day prior to the Oregon incident, a security officer in Los Angeles was shot and another man was killed following a verbal altercation outside a cannabis dispensary in Eagle Rock.

State-mandated firearms training is geared to accurately hitting a target and focusing on the “legal use of deadly force” when you can legally shoot and the mechanics of how to shoot. According to firearms Instructor and former police chief Jerry Bloechle, not enough time is spent on alternatives, including de-escalation training.

“Time is being spent teaching how to shoot but no time is spent teaching how not to shoot. When security personnel are carrying guns, a firearm should be the last resort, not the first option,” warns Bloechle.

Quality training can be accomplished economically. It will also result in better problem resolution skills and a reduction in liability. Training does not end before the job begins: It rather continues through the work-life of a person.   Online training maintains proficiency because the training can be updated allowing students to easily brush up on concepts and new technologies.  Training can be exceptional because the professionals who excel in a particular field that choose to teach and train online students can come from different locations at the same time. Security officers will know what is expected and why it works.

Online Training is Readily Available

Quality training is available from several sources online. Online security training is useful for people in security management or supervisory positions, or for those wanting to move up and into security management and supervisory positions, or for people in any management or supervisory position that deals with or needs knowledge of security operations.  Even basic security officers can benefit from better training – even if their responsibility doesn’t directly include responsibilities like perimeter security intrusion detection. Understanding how the systems work and understanding the potential vulnerabilities makes for a better (and promotable) employee.

The National Investigative Training Academy (NITA) offers comprehensive pre-licensing, continuing education, and professional development courses designed for aspiring and experienced security professionals. NITA also makes the learning experience as convenient as possible by presenting those courses in an innovative digital platform that combines the benefits of online learning with the personal guidance of experienced faculty and instructors. Classes include an Introduction to Physical Security, Access Control, Intrusion Detection, Closed Circuit Television and other conceptual physical security topics.

(See them at ) offers online training to meet security, fire and life safety continuing education training needs. Courses are more technical and include topics such as IP Video, IP Networking, Access Control, Troubleshooting, Perimeter Detection, Cybersecurity and much more. (See them at

Good training is affordable and easily accessible. On-line training can fit any schedule or shift and builds confidence and efficient operations. Any proactive mitigation steps that reduce liability and prevent problems in a dispensary or grow facility are worth implementing. The question is, how can you afford not to?

About the author: Jeff Dingle is a Senior Consultant with the Florida-based Security Advisory Group. A former federal Special Agent and Security Specialist, he has managed security operations and provided security training for high-risk enterprises in the private sector, Federal Government, casinos and a FORTUNE 15 company. Dingle can be reached at [email protected]
ID 3771803 © Donald Sawvel |
Highlights from the ongoing cannabis security regulations series include Alaska, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania
Courtesy of Getty Images -- Credit: Ingo Dörenberg
In March 2019, the state became the first in the nation to license cannabis consumption sites.