News and Best Practices

Keeping Your Store’s Cannabis…Safe

November 1, 2016

If you run a dispensary or rec store, you need a solid, fireproof safe for storing cash. Obviously, this is the best way to protect your money, especially since you might not obtain legal access to commercial banking services in the near future. And with local regulators remaining vigilant on when and where your inventory comes and goes, you need to be able to support your records with cash receipts.

But a safe is also an excellent place to lock up your buds, given that theft is common in this industry. Seed-to-sale tracking and video cameras can minimize employee theft, but it can still happen. There’s also risk of theft from robberies or burglaries. A strong, sturdy safe can ensure that only your most trusted employees have access to buds.

Safe and sound

The many advantages in having a commercial-grade safe include:

  • Besides keeping your valuable cannabis product locked away for the night, a safe is just an ideal storage area. It’s cool and dark, and you can monitor the inside temperature and humidity with a combination thermometer/hygrometer.
  • A safe will give you peace-of-mind. You’ll know that your product is secure and, if any of it goes missing, the list of possible suspects will be short.
  • In case there’s a fire in the store, a fireproof safe protects cannabis and cash. Both of these are flammable, so storing them in a locked fortress will safeguard your property and investments.
  • In case of a burglary, most larger safes are too heavy for even three people to carry. If the safe is fireproof, it’s unlikely that someone will go through the trouble of cutting it with a blowtorch.

Inside the safe, all cannabis should be kept in jars or other airtight container, such as some types of plastic. You should place a couple of humidifier packs in the safe, as well as one in each container. Check that the humidity stays below 65% and the temperatures remain below 77°. Ideally, you want 62% humidity and a temperature between 65-70°F. Keeping your product stored in this environment will prevent mold and mildew from growing, as well as seal in the terpenes and cannabinoids.

The containers should be regularly “burped”—the lid opened and then closed a few seconds later—to keep fresh air cycling through them.

Know your safe

There’s no standard criteria for fireproof safes; each model has its specific protection levels. Before purchasing a safe, however, be sure you’ve reviewed what it can and can’t do.

  • Pay attention to the internal temperatures that the safe can maintain. Paper burns at 350°F, cannabis burns at 932°F, but THC will vaporize at 365°F and terpenes will start boiling off around 300°F.
  • Note how long the safe can keep out very high internal temperatures if a store fire occurs. Some safes can do this for 30 minutes before heating up. Other higher-end safes can withstand fires for hours. You should be able to find fire resistance data in the safe’s “Fire Rating.”
  • Check the fire-resistant composite material used to construct the safe. Some materials contain alum or gypsum hydrates that release water vapor into the safe to maintain internal temperatures. These materials can raise internal humidity levels over a long period (especially if the fire rages for several hours).
  • When sprinklers activate during a fire, this results in water damage. So, you may want a fireproof and waterproof safe.
  • Check the insurance amounts for your safe. Some manufacturers will insure (or offer insurance for) property stored in the safe up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most likely your cannabis won’t be covered under this insurance, but your cash will.

A word of caution: Never use gun safes to store cannabis. They may look really cool, but firearms aren’t allowed at retail stores—so, a gun safe on the premises will arouse suspicions. You don’t want to be on an inspector’s radar because you bought this type of safe. Besides, gun safes are terrible for storing cannabis. Most of them contain insulating materials that absorb moisture, and this absorbency will wreak havoc on your humidity levels.

And don’t try to save a few bucks with a locked refrigerator, either. Refrigerators are notorious for wildly fluctuating temperature and humidity levels, even if their power is turned off. You’re basically asking for mildews or molds on your cannabis.

Safe locking mechanisms

Each safe has one of three types of locks: key, combination and electronic.

  • Keys can be lost or stolen, which increases the security risk. Employees who leave the company may not return their key, and this can mean replacing the lock altogether (which can be pricey).
  • Combination locks solve the problem of losing keys. However, you can’t force an employee who leaves the business to forget the code.
  • Electronic locks are best. Most of them come with a key mechanism if the electronic lock fails. Many use biometrics, so fingerprints can be added or removed from the system as employees join or leave the business.
By Randy Robinson
Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.
© 2016 CAN Performance Group, LLC. All rights reserved.


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