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Mastering Access Control Fundamentals for Cannabis Facility Security

The cannabis industry is projected to expand rapidly in the years ahead as more states open restrictions on cannabis growth and dispensing. However, cannabis organizations navigating the typical challenges of rapid business development must also address the added challenges of protecting valuable product and profit.  

Because cannabis remains illegal under U.S. law, federally regulated financial institutions remain reluctant to serve cannabis dispensaries, warehouses, or production facilities. As a result of this, grow houses and dispensaries need to operate on a cash basis, making cannabis facilities ripe targets for theft. The easily transportable nature of cannabis goods can further incentivize bad actors to take advantage.  

These unique risks have prompted many U.S. states to mandate that cannabis facilities install cameras or hire guards, among other measures. The risks have also encouraged many cannabis facilities to invest in creative solutions to ward off attacks.  

Before investing in the latest technology, cannabis businesses of all types should consider the fundamentals of security design. Secure designs address four key areas: deterrence, detection, delay, and response. While each of these areas are important, the right door can serve as both a powerful deterrent and delay tactic, allowing greater time for response.  

Deter Intrusion with Psychological Barriers 

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles recommend implementing psychological barriers as a first deterrent against crime. These barriers are often visible, environmental cues that mark a building as a target to avoid for criminals. These environmental cues may include bright lighting around entry points or well-maintained landscaping that demonstrates ownership and attention to an area.  

Physical barriers—such as rolling security doors that deploy to protect storefronts, production facilities, or warehouse loading docks—are a particularly effective deterrent. The addition of a rolling security door can deter potential intruders by visibly demonstrating that a facility has taken extra steps to ensure protection.  

Secure designs address four key areas: deterrence, detection, delay, and response.

For interior areas, cannabis facilities can rely on rolling security grilles as an effective option that can be easily rolled up and out of sight during business hours. Grilles can serve as a deterrent while also protecting security staff and allowing visibility into interior areas for police responding to a break-in. In addition, rolling grilles are typically more easily concealed within small headspaces. As a result, these access control solutions are suitable for use near dispensary counters, to secure access to interior storerooms, or to deter tampering with grow operation infrastructure. 

Delay Intrusion with Ingress Protection  

In the event of a break-in attempt, the right security door can buy security staff and first responders valuable time by slowing intruders’ attempts to enter. Today’s rolling security doors come equipped with lift-resistant bottom bars and are available in a wide range of thicknesses tailored to provide specific protection against a range of threats. In fact, cannabis facilities have access to options that meet U.S. Department of State standards for forced entry. These rolling steel doors are designed to protect buildings from entry—even by mob attacks—for as long as 60 minutes. To achieve this, the door construction includes heavy-gauge interlocking slats that compress when closed to reduce potential pry points and hold strong even when under attack.

Some security doors can be integrated with closing systems that activate the door in the event a building alarm or panic button is pushed. In this case, delaying egress can give police time to arrive and apprehend intruders.  

Security Doors Can Be Welcoming, Too 

Security doors can deter threats without deterring business. Many doors are available in a range of color options or can be branded to help attract business during off-hours. Sizes can be customized to cover wide expanses of glass with a single, seamless solution. The right security door can also enhance a cannabis business. For example, insulated rolling security doors can help grow operations and meet energy-efficiency requirements. 

Selecting the right security solutions here can deter intruders and set the right tone for customers and employees.


With 16 years of experience in the manufacturing and building materials sector, Heather Bender currently serves as the director of commercial product marketing for Clopay Corporation. She specializes in finding unique solutions for building owners and designers, applying a strategic and innovative approach to complex industry challenges. Bender can be reached at [email protected]