ANSI standards to help shape cannabis security programs

March 21, 2024
Cannabis businesses and industry vendors and consultants now have a set of standards to guide them in building a security program for business owners

While the cannabis industry has seen stratospheric levels of growth in the last several years, the task of keeping businesses serving the industry safe has been a challenge.

Despite the promise cannabis brings to the market, experts note there are still challenges to cannabis’ illegal status at the federal level. Many businesses are forced to operate largely in cash and work with a complex supply chain that demands seed-to-sale tracking software and accountability.

But cannabis businesses and industry vendors and consultants now have a set of standards to guide them in building a security program for business owners after ASIS International released cannabis security standards approved by the American National Standards Institute.

The standards provide comprehensive requirements and guidance for the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and maintenance of a cannabis security program.

There have been previous efforts to establish security standards, but Tim Sutton, vice chairman of ASIS International’s Profession Standards Board, proclaimed they don’t match the comprehensive and well-organized nature of the ASIS measures.

“This standard is not only needed, but anxiously anticipated by the industry,” said Sutton, who is co-chair of the technical committee for the Cannabis Security Standard’s development.

Tony Gallo, managing partner of Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, says that although the ASIS International standards are guidelines, not regulations, he still expects them to have an impact on future cannabis projects.

“Every industry needs to understand security best practices and now we have a document we can refer to for future projects,” Gallo says. “As these guidelines become more and more accepted, it will become the norm for future projects.

“Anytime an association like ASIS International supports an industry it gives more value to a properly designed security system.”

Numerous efforts to reach the Marijuana Policy Project and The National Cannabis Industry Association for comment on the guidelines were unsuccessful.

ASIS International says members of the standard’s technical committee represented security professionals actively working within the industry and other related subject matter experts who understand security best practices and the importance of applying industry-recognized security risk management principles.

Aligned with the enterprise security risk management (ESRM) approach, this standard serves as an invaluable tool to safeguard cannabis organizations and their assets by taking a holistic perspective, ASIS International says.

Key elements of the Cannabis Security Standard include:

Comprehensive security program guidance: The standard offers a framework for the design, implementation and continuous improvement of cannabis security programs. It encompasses every aspect of security risk management, ensuring a thorough and proactive approach. 

Physical protection systems (PPS) requirements: Providing guidance and minimum-security requirements, the standard focuses on the identification, application and management of physical protection systems. This includes safeguarding assets such as people, property and information associated with cannabis operations, storage and transport. 

Exceeding jurisdictional compliance: In some instances, the standard surpasses the requirements mandated by local jurisdictions. This ensures that cannabis organizations adopting this standard are equipped with the highest level of protection, ASIS says.

Mitigation strategies: A key highlight of the standard is its emphasis on mitigation strategies, ASIS says. From threat assessment to response planning, security practitioners gain access to proactive measures that fortify the resilience of cannabis organizations against potential risks. 

“In an industry evolving at a rapid pace, our standard not only meets but exceeds expectations, reflecting our commitment to advancing security practices,” says Susan Carioti, CAE, CStd, Vice President, Certification, Standards and Guidelines for ASIS International. “This standard is a testament to our dedication to providing best-in-class solutions that fortify cannabis organizations and contribute to the overall safety of the industry." 

For more information and to access the ANSI-accredited Cannabis Security Standard, visit