Committee Blog: Practical Tips for Cannabis Businesses Impacted by Theft and Property Damage

By Stephanie Bozzuto, Jason Horst, Eric Rahn, and Ian Stewart
NCIA’s Risk Management And Insurance Committee

As the country continues to grapple with the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath, we have seen reports that numerous cannabis dispensaries in California, Illinois, Oregon, and elsewhere have been the victims of theft and property damage. A number of shops have been hit multiple times in successive days, with many reports indicating that businesses are being targeted by organized groups not involved in protests.

The owners of these dispensaries, like many of the other business owners around them, are likely asking themselves: Is my insurance going to cover this? The good news is that, for many of them, it is likely that they will have coverage for at least some of the losses that they have suffered. What losses are ultimately reimbursed can depend on a number of factors, including what an impacted business owner does in the immediate aftermath of an incident. Thus, we provide below an outline of the steps that businesses should follow in the unfortunate event that your shop has been damaged:

  • File a police report.
  • Immediately report the loss to the relevant cannabis regulatory authority (check both state and local regulations to ensure full compliance).
  • Get in contact with your insurance provider and file a claim immediately. Once filed, you will receive a claim number and an assigned claims adjuster who you will work with from the very beginning to the end of the claim.
  • Ensure your place of business is well protected (even after the loss). Do your very best to continue to protect what you can after a loss.
  • Document everything. Take photos, save and review your video surveillance. Your insurance company will ask for this when you file a claim
  • Begin taking inventory of everything that has been damaged, destroyed, and stolen. Your insurance company will need this as well.
  • Review your insurance policy again and speak with your insurance professional.
  • Does your insurance policy cover civil unrest, theft, or vandalism coverage? Is it excluded? Is it not listed at all? Many cannabis businesses operate under property insurance policies that will cover losses for property damage and theft that occurs during a public disturbance.
  • Some insurance policies, however, contain “protective safeguard” endorsements creating certain requirements that the cannabis business owner must follow or a claim can be denied. Many of the requirements include a central burglar alarm, cameras, an approved vault or safe room, and other similar risk mitigation measures. Pay special attention to these protective safeguard requirements, and ensure that all are met. This can be particularly important for businesses that have already been the victims of crime. If the safety systems in question have been damaged or are otherwise inoperable as a result, make sure to put your insurer on notice of this fact and, ideally, get them to approve a temporary accommodation relieving your business of the relevant protective safeguard.
  • Policies may also be “sublimited” for certain types of property coverage, meaning that limits for particular types of loss are lower than the overall policy limits. Impacted businesses should look for a page entitled “Property Optional Extension Endorsement.” The types of coverage that might be sublimited include:
    • Employee Dishonesty;
    • Money and Securities;
    • Outdoor Property (Fences, Radio/TV Antennas/Satellite Dishes and Signs Outdoor Property (Trees, Shrubs or Plants);
    • Personal Effects and Property of Others (relevant if a dispensary has not taken title to product): and
    • Valuable Papers and Records (Other Than Electronic Data).

In addition to taking these actions, dispensary owners in cities where civil unrest is ongoing should give consideration to reducing their store hours or even closing entirely until conditions change in order to keep their staff safe. For those concerned about leaving product in their stores and having it stolen, some states, including California, allow for licensed cannabis dispensaries to remove product from a licensed facility in the face of a public disturbance or emergency. Nonetheless, businesses should always consult their state and local regulations and/or consult with an attorney before removing cannabis products from their facilities in any way that would normally be impermissible under applicable laws.

In sum, while cannabis dispensaries unfortunately appear to be attractive targets for opportunistic criminals, there are a number of steps these businesses can and should take right now to help them begin to pick up the pieces.

Member Blog: Three Security Must-Haves for Marijuana Dispensaries

by Evan Hicks, Senseon Secure Access

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. “Inventory will increase, cash holdings will increase, and the number of people accessing legal cannabis for the first time will naturally evolve to a larger customer base,” writes Marijuana Retail Report. To many industry and security experts, this presents a perfect storm — high value products, cash on hand and less scrutiny over who’s coming through the door.

If you’re launching or scaling a marijuana business, it’s essential to unpack several basic security challenges and overarching needs. By safeguarding your business from day one, you’ll be better positioned to protect your inventory, your customers and your business, while maintaining a well-designed, welcoming environment for workers and buyers.

1. Security Guards

Many dispensaries want to avoid a visible security presence — which makes sense. Because of marijuana’s history and, still, the stigma that exists in many communities, seeing a security guard can make customers feel skittish or even avoid coming in entirely.

The solution? Have point-of-entry security that facilitates a positive customer experience. Many businesses, for example, opt for plain-clothes guards or guards with uniforms that mimic the rest of the in-store team. “Since they are the first point of contact,” explains MMR, “ensure that they are helping consumers feel welcome and invited, yet are able to maintain a zero-tolerance stance on any customer activities that could present a perceived threat to your dispensary, staff and other customers.”

2. Secure Transportation

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. If you’re handling transportation yourself, be sure your fleet is equipped with the basics — bullet-resistant finishes, GPS tracking and streaming videos that feeds to your security “home base,” for starters.

For many businesses, though, managing this level of high-stakes transportation is too much to take on, especially in the beginning. For them, there are a variety of transportation-focused companies who specialize in cannabis and medical transport, and can ensure your product arrives safely and securely every time.

3. Internal and In-Store Theft Prevention

The majority of dispensary losses come from employee theft. While there are several steps businesses must take early on — thorough employee screening, background checks and a solid inventory management and POS system — it’s essential to maintain in-store security measures that discourage “heavy-handedness” and full-on theft.

During the onboarding process, supervisors and dispensary owners should be clear that employees cannot sell to themselves. Beyond that, ensure you have a clear-cut “friends and family” discount policy in place and that it’s communicated and adhered to. No discounting allowed? Make sure that’s made crystal clear, too.

Taking things a step further, be sure to integrate physical protections for your product. Senseon Secure Access recently topped IndicaOnline’s list of the top five security services for marijuana dispensaries, with a specific eye on the company’s smart cabinetry systems. With automatic relocking and customizable permissions for staff, it’s easy to safeguard cannabis while, at the same time, maintaining a close eye on who’s accessing what when — if there’s a problem with products, tracking down the culprit is easier than ever. And, with a keyless entry, there’s no risk keys will end up in the wrong hands ever.

As the cannabis landscape grows and expands, security needs will, too. But, for now, focus on these three must-haves to protect your dispensary today and tomorrow.

Evan Hicks is Marketing Coordinator for Senseon Secure Access, a product of Accuride International. As coordinator, he helps manage Senseon’s marketing initiatives covering communications, events, and research & development. With an unquenchable thirst for learning, Evan frequently finds himself deep in the rabbit hole conducting research for Senseon’s multiple markets.

A graduate of California Polytechnic University, Evan has nearly a decade of experience in security and public relations in both the public and private sector.


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