Duty of Care in the Cannabis Industry

Feb. 24, 2022
It is challenging to monitor all aspects of a company to ensure that all security measures align with the law

In today's climate, businesses worldwide face serious security threats nearly every day. This means investing in physical security for the protection of employees, as well as company assets, is critical in order to remain prosperous. As such, leadership teams must prioritize risk assessment to identify their current vulnerabilities and potential hazards and provide top-tier employee safety.

In the cannabis industry especially, the growing number of imposed compliance regulations met with ever-present security threats affirms the need for turn-key surveillance and workplace protections that effectively monitor crime & theft, employee safety, and abide by industry regulations.

Crime and Theft

Since the onset of the pandemic, crime and theft rates across the cannabis industry have been a tedious and challenging problem to combat. One community member in Humbolt county recently cited that cannabis farm robberies in the area had reached "borderline epidemic proportions." Other cities have experienced a series of violent robberies targeting marijuana businesses, with physical altercations and monetary losses totaling millions of dollars. Unsurprisingly, the traditional gates,  guns, and guards approach to security protection in the cannabis industry has failed to stand up to the sector's recent onslaught of crime.

However, implementing a hyper-intelligent and thorough security program can allow businesses to be more proactive in their approach to this vulnerability rather than reactive. For example, flash mob-type crimes are typically coordinated months ahead of time using social media.

Therefore, investing in round-the-clock social media monitoring can allow cannabis farms to detect threats weeks before they happen, effectively stopping criminals in their tracks while businesses continue to integrate further physical security measures.

Moreover, smart technologies that operate in conjunction with security guards and surveillance monitoring can ensure that specific work sites or high-value items are locked down immediately in the middle of a robbery. This allows security guards and business owners to simultaneously protect their assets while watching a closed-circuit video feed of a theft attempt unfold in real-time.

Of course, the protection of assets and the fight against crime in the cannabis industry are of the utmost importance. Nevertheless, stolen goods can be replaced and insured for – unlike the lives of company employees.

Workplace Safety

No matter the industry, product, or marketplace, the safety of company employees should always be the first priority. In the world of cannabis, there are two areas of safety focus: 1) Physical safety in the production, manufacturing, and distribution of marijuana. 2) Safety at physical retail stores. Each focus has a complex set of factors that need adequate attention by businesses.

The first place to start is with a safety orientation for all employees. A study in Colorado specific to occupational safety and health training for cannabis cultivation workers found that after safety training, "88.5% of respondents felt extremely or very confident that they could rely on health and safety practices at work." Proper training per individual is crucial for helping people understand their responsibilities in terms of workplace safety and understand the conditions for accessing certain areas of vulnerability within a workplace facility. Prioritizing the physical security of employees mitigates the chance that an untrained worker could engage in a potentially dangerous activity and gives them tools for how to quickly and efficiently problem solve in a threatening situation.

Of course, the lab environment for cannabis businesses can be dangerous, but retail stores often have even more significant workplace safety issues that need to be constantly addressed and monitored. In order to provide the highest level of safety and care, the key is identifying threats early by utilizing technology that monitors social media and the dark web. This proactive implementation of assessing threats before they happen can be the difference between workers operating out of fear or confidence.


Although all businesses deal with some form of regulations, the cannabis industry has the highest compliance regulations out of any industry since it is not yet federally legal. Within those regulations lie complex clauses specific to the physical security and surveillance monitoring aspects of protecting the business. For example, in Illinois, it is required for cannabis businesses to have a "security system designed to prevent and detect diversion, theft, loss of cannabis or currency, and unauthorized access." The regulations even go so far in some states as to require a mandate of frames per second on the surveillance footage. What's more, monthly checks to ensure the performance of security equipment means that meeting regulation standards requires manpower, time, and an advanced level of systems organization.

It is challenging to monitor all aspects of a company to ensure that all security measures align with the law. After all, one little slip-up could lead to the end of a business. If product diversion occurs without the business owner's knowledge, a cannabis company could not only fail to meet its bottom line but lose its license entirely.

Since top industry leaders come from old-school cannabis backgrounds, many companies struggle to transition from an embryonic marketplace with limited rules to one with strict regulations designed to appease legislation. However, this change is necessary and utilizes systems to monitor all aspects of a business to business to ensure compliance with state regulations that ultimately help optimize security and make a business more cost-effective and efficient.

Not only does compliance ensure the business does not lose its ability to operate legally, but it means a company can utilize all protections entitled to a legal business. As such, the complaint and legal cannabis businesses can partner with law enforcement to utilize the authorities for their benefit rather than hide from them when threatened.

Companies owe their employees a duty of care to keep them safe and protected from the ever-growing complexity and severity of physical security threats. With the increased intricacy and number of physical threats, new approaches and technologies are necessary to prevent physical security breaches effectively, protect employees and assets, and maintain the company operating licenses.


About the author: Ryan Schonfeld is currently the Founder and CEO at HiveWatch, a Security Fusion Platform™ that allows security teams to bring together data from their existing disparate security systems and provides them with an intelligent, holistic, and actionable view, enabling them to respond to prioritized, “de-noised” risks.

Ryan is also a principal at RAS Consulting & Investigations, where his rich body of work has demonstrated expertise in private investigation, police service, teaching & instruction, work with the U.S. State Department as well as leadership in Corporate America. Before founding RAS Consulting & Investigations, Ryan spent time as a practitioner in the field as a police officer and investigator, an instructor for the U.S. Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program and a leader of a Fortune 500 company’s Global Security & Safety Technology Group.


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