In this blog series, our Executive Director Ben Taylor highlights a selection of cybersecurity, physical security, health or natural threat related stories from the past week.


Guard Against Ransomware Attacks- MJBizDaily

According to a survey of MJBizDaily readers, 59% of  have taken no steps to prevent ransomware attacks. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) acting Director Michael Mosier, “As the past few months have demonstrated, the surge in ransomware attacks threatens our critical infrastructure, municipalities and the most vulnerable among us. (It) is increasingly impacting the lives of the American people. 

Cannabis companies should not assume that cyber criminals are only focused on the largest brand. According to a study from the Identity Theft Resource Center, over half (58%) of US small businesses have suffered a security or data breach, with most paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the costs. If you would like to engage in more discussions about best practices for physical and cybersecurity, join our free Slack Workspace.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

As we reported last week, October Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month—previously known as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month—which helps to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across our Nation, ensuring that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) are using the overarching theme:

“Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

If you missed our Library Series Card blog post this week we focused on CISA’s Cyber Essentials Starter Kit which is a great place to begin with setting up your organization’s cyber defenses, or, a great review to ensure your current practices are checking all the appropriate boxes to best secure your organization.

For more on how to raise your organization’s cybersecurity awareness, check out this blog from Gate 15 with some Tips from the Pros!

Physical Security

19-year-old suspect arrested after Oklahoma dispensary robbed at gunpoint

A 19-year-old is now behind bars after being accused of robbing a local dispensary in the village last Friday. Jarmal Burris has been placed in custody. Officers were searching for him, and according to a police report, he had two confirmed warrants for robbery and kidnapping. Of note in this case is the fact that the individual was recognized by the owner has having visited the dispensary on multiple occasions. 

“Within the last week we had a man come into our shop he asked for an interview and I think he was just kind of scoping the place out,” he said. He says that man came back a second time after that and waited outside until close. “Our employee was closing up shop and then when they went outside he assaulted them in the parking lot,” he said. Employee training that teaching employees how to identify suspicious behavior can go a long way to prevent incidents such as this. One such training tool is CISA’s Power of Hello which we have previously discussed in our Library Card Series.

Security training for cannabis dispensaries is effective, accessible and affordable

A key to maintaining a problem-free organization is to make sure that your people are competent and know what they are doing. This is especially important in the marijuana business, where the product is high value and the customer base may be potentially problematic.  With security operations, the state-required training to acquire a “security officer” license is minimal. State-mandated security officer training generally covers requirements to simply meet the state standards but usually doesn’t cover the skill set needed to be an effective security officer. 

“Conflict resolution is an extremely important skill,” says Stephen Brooks a Criminal Investigator with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Alcoholic Beverage, Tobacco and Medical Marijuana. “Being able to not have to resort to force and being able to calm a hostile situation is probably the most important skill a dispensary security officer can have, but that is not taught in state-mandated classes.”

We recently shared a blog about a great resource from CISA on de-escalation training, which we encourage to be reviewed prior to developing training both for security guards, but for budtenders and other customer-facing employees.

Colorado’s Largest Dispensary Chain: Fifteen Burglary Attempts in Ninety Days Last Year

LivWell Enlightened Health, one of Colorado’s largest marijuana businesses, experienced fifteen burglary attempts over a three-month span last year, according to the company’s head of security. The state’s biggest dispensary chain at 21 locations, LivWell has a handful of supplying cultivations around the state that have become targets for theft, LivWell retail compliance and corporate security manager James Bauer said during a October 28 discussion of banking services for the marijuana industry.

On a call in support of U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter’s Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, Bauer went into detail about several burglary attempts at LivWell businesses. Situations included “criminals driving stolen vehicles into our buildings multiple times,” Bauer said, as well as drilling holes into the top of LivWell buildings or staging lookouts and getaways while suspects attempted to break in LivWell dispensaries and cultivations with crowbars and sledgehammers.

As a result of these break-ins, LivWell have invested heavily in security. “The company now has over 2,500 security cameras and more than forty security guards, some of whom are paid to sit in parking lots of LivWell locations overnight in order to deter potential criminals.” Of course, this is a familiar story to anyone in the cannabis industry. While preventative security measures will go a long way to stopping attempted robberies, they will most likely continue at a similar pace until SAFE banking is passed.

Be sure to check back every Tuesday as we publish our Library Card Series where we highlight one of the resources available in our library!

Check out the latest blog highlighting issues important to cannabis security!