Interviews

Reducing Cannabis Security Risks with Haley Glover (Sapphire Risk)

Haley shares her insights into everything SECURITY and CANNABIS

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Episode Description

Haley Glover is the Senior Security Consultant at Sapphire Risk Advisory Group and has over a decade of experience in the security industry.

Haley shares her insights into everything SECURITY and CANNABIS. From setting up security when you first apply for your application to ongoing security training with your employees and really working as a team to make sure that your cannabis retail location is secure.

Cannabis security risks also include cybersecurity and internal theft protection cameras. She goes through all of it today on the show, and we're so excited to talk to Haley and really just learn from their expertise in this field.

If you wanna find out more about Sapphire and the work they're doing, or maybe you want Sapphire to come and help you as you either launch or grow your dispensary visit:

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Episode Transcript

Tom Mulhern: Our guest today is Haley Glover from the Sapphire Risk Advisory Group. And Haley's here to talk about security. Now we know that security is so important when it comes to cannabis, whether you have a dispensary or a cultivation operation. Haley is here to share her insights into everything security from setting up security when you first apply for your application to ongoing security training with your employees and really working as a team to make sure that your cannabis retail location is secure. That includes cybersecurity and internal theft protection cameras. She goes through all of it today on the show, and we're so excited to talk to Haley and really just learn from their expertise in this field.

So let's get started with the show

Tom Mulhern: Haley Glover is the senior security consultant at Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, and has over a decade of experience in the security industry.

As a senior security consultant, Haley is the primary expert on security devices and systems and their implementation into cannabis businesses. Haley works directly with cannabis business owners to ensure cannabis projects and build outs are completed efficiently and successfully.

Additionally, Haley was recently the winner of the Security Systems News "40 under 40" class. With decades of experience, Sapphire Risk is the most recognized and successful security consulting firm in the cannabis industry. They have consulted in all three phases of starting and operating businesses in the cannabis industry, including license applications, security buildouts, and day to day security procedures.

So Haley has tons to add to the conversation of security and cannabis businesses. So Haley, welcome to the show. We're so glad you're here.

Haley Glover: Thank you happy to be here.

Tom Mulhern: it's wonderful to have have somebody who can speak to the importance of security and, it said that you're an expert you're gonna give me lots of insight and I'm sure our listeners as well. Let's just start off by asking a question. I ask all of the guests that are on the show.

Tell me a bit about how you got involved in the cannabis industry.

Haley Glover: I actually started at a security company and I was their administrative assistant and throughout our Monday morning meetings. It just progressed into me answering questions that some of the technicians weren't and my manager told me why don't you get your alarm technician license and become a project manager?

As I started to do that, we were working with really high end jewelry stores. We were doing security for the department of defense, and then we were approached actually here in Texas. Kind of a shocker about some cannabis projects that would be built out. And what had happened is they were using a company that was outside the state of Texas.

And so they wanted somebody who was an expert at high risk security solutions. And so they gave us a call and that's where it all started and eventually led me over to Sapphire, which now I've had quite a bit of experience with cannabis ever since then. So yeah, kind of a slow progress into it.

Tom Mulhern: Yeah, you kind of just slowly made your way into it and you've have you found it interesting. Like What's one of the most surprising things uh, being in the cannabis industry for you that you've found.

Haley Glover: Going from a legacy market over to a legal market. There have been some challenges, but it's so interesting because a lot of these people are so extremely passionate about the cannabis industry and they all have their own stories of how they even got started. And that's probably one of the coolest things that I've really gotten to know is each client that we work with, how they got to where they are today.

The reason of why they wanted to get into cannabis from whatever industry they might have been in before. But I'd say that. Yeah, it's just, it's really cool to hear people's stories of why they supported and why they wanna be a part of the industry.

Tom Mulhern: When you have a diverse background as well, you had a different career before you got into security. Tell me a little bit about that. You have a background in early childhood education, is that correct?

Haley Glover: Yes. I actually went to college to be an early childhood through sixth grade ESL and special ed teacher. So I did that for a few years. I would say that the school systems are a little difficult sometimes and. So I decided I needed to change my career path. And after a lot of just not really knowing what I wanted to do, I found such an interest in security.

I'm very nosy . So it led over to that. But I love this industry. I don't see myself leaving anytime soon.

Tom Mulhern: Do you find that any of your experience from your early childhood education background comes into your security experience? Do you bring some of that into it in your day to day?

Haley Glover: Yes, absolutely. A lot of cannabis projects it's hurry up and wait. So patience. You must have patience. Also being able to explain to somebody who's really good at cannabis, but they might not know too much about security being able to break that down and have good explanations of everything and interpret, interpreting the regulations and how it affects your security.

Obviously it's, you've gotta back up and you can't use the terminology that you might use in the security industry, but more. Really layman's terms of just, breaking it down of you need this for this to work properly. So absolutely definitely carry that over.

Tom Mulhern: You're working in a niche within a niche, like cannabis is a niche industry. And then you're working a niche within that in security. Why focus on security in the cannabis industry? What was interesting about that, that made you wanna shift over to Sapphire.

Haley Glover: Similarly to all the other high risk industries that are out there, so jewelry, pawn. Um, you know, Liquor, there's a lot of aspects of security that need to be taken in consideration. And so it does marry over pretty nicely. But the high risk portion of it, if I was just doing retail clothing store. I probably wouldn't find the excitement in it. And I love going into a dispensary looking around, looking at the camera placement and sometimes wondering, why would you have placed it there? know, That's completely blocked or just understanding the different practices that you can do for security.

And then obviously the technology's really cool.

Tom Mulhern: Going into all of these different dispensaries. What are some of the common mistakes that cannabis businesses, and this includes cultivators and dispensaries are making when it comes to security. You said you go in and you're like, why did they place that camera there? What are some other big mistakes that you've seen that, dispensary should be aware?

Haley Glover: I would say not using experienced vendors in the cannabis industry, obviously there's a big hurdle here, which is those regulations. So there's one thing to read them and to know what it says, but understanding it and also understanding where you can contact the regulators and ask for an alternative.

There are some states that require two alarm. Two alarm systems might not be the best solution for security, but an alternative is have a generator so that if something were to happen to that first alarm system, you still have it up and powered. I would say another common mistake is not really understanding the equipment that you've been provided.

Again, the technology is really cool and there's a lot of integration you can do between your different systems. And whenever you have to go through and do an audit of your facility for the most part, you should be able to just pull something up, see who went, where at what time was it actually them?

And it just breaks it all down for you instead of manually having to go through and do it. And I would say, if anything else, maybe just trying not to do everything on your own. I have seen some clients who have installed ring cameras, blink cameras, and that's not sufficient. I have a ring camera at my apartment and it's great here.

It sees everyone who walks right past my front door and my packages have not been stolen ever since I got it, but that's not suitable for a high risk business, like cannabis.

Tom Mulhern: How can business owners protect themselves from some of the biggest issues in cannabis and one of them being employee theft after there are certain ways that a cannabis retailer could protect themselves other than just cameras.

Haley Glover: We recommend to our clients to develop a culture of honesty program. If you see something, say something maybe even implementing an anonymous. Hotline or email that you can send something to, because I will say that, internally, if you're an employee and you see somebody that you get along just great with, but you saw them steal something, sometimes it's a little uncomfortable to report them.

And so having an anonymous way of being able to send in that tip of, Hey, it appeared that this happened, then they can go back and view on the video footage that, that happen. I would say that, another way that you could do it is just really to define your company policy. If somebody is caught, attempting to steal, they should be dismissed immediately.

It's not something where you should give them multiple chances because then other employees might think they didn't get fired and we all know what happened so I can do it too. So definitely having your standard operating procedures set, identified implementing a buddy system. No one person should be alone by themselves in an area that has cash or cannabis.

Don't give 'em the opportunity to steal. Internal theft is obviously one of the larger threats for cannabis businesses. So having that identified of what steps need to be taken, what's your preventative measures that you'll be doing? Just having that all laid out before you even open.

Tom Mulhern: How big of a issue is employee theft. Does it rank up there high or are there other things that are bigger issues facing cannabis business owners?

Haley Glover: I would say it's up there around 80% of product being mishandled or removed from your facility. Internal theft is a very big threat within. A lot of industries, but especially in cannabis, because it's light, it's something that you can quickly get out of there. And so it's, and it can also be something that's in a package that could be mistaken for something else.

So really just preventing that from happening in the first place.

Tom Mulhern: Oftentimes is there a way that. Business owners find out about employee theft, like you said, see something, say something, is that the main way, or is it, inventory control and going through seeing like discrepancies there? What are ways that they're finding out that there's been theft?

Haley Glover: If there are an excessive amount of discounts. That's a pretty quick one. A lot of dispensaries do provide a program for their employees where they can purchase it at a discounted price. Not for free, of course, but at a discounted price, but sometimes they're purchasing enough to be sufficient for an entire city of people.

So that's where it's a question, but again, same thing with inventory. If you're seeing that consistently, that's where. You really need to go back and review and see, where is this coming from? What days is it on? Is there a certain employee that's there on these same days where that's occurring, but really doing your checks and balances to make sure that you understand where that potential threat could be coming from?

Tom Mulhern: If you're a large business and you're trying to do inventory control, you can hire someone to do that. You can have someone sitting back there that's handling the product. What about for those smaller businesses that may not be able to do that? What are some ways they can fix some of those internal vulnerabilities?

Haley Glover: There's a lot of technology that's available to where you can go in and it can really break down anything that looks irregular whenever they're doing their books, again, doing the checks and balances with your inventory, there are third party companies that will come in and do that for you.

They can do it once every three months. They can do it once every six months, once a year. But sometimes it's better to have that third party company come in and do that so that you have somebody , that's outside of the business that can go back through and check and make sure that the employees are not moving anything around or taking anything that they shouldn.

Tom Mulhern: Now it's probably different from dispensary to dispensary, but is there like a legislation about how much, bonus product you could give? Because there could be someone who, that's one of their, like employee perks is that you get free product, but is there a point where, oh, no, you're breaking the law by giving away this product?

Or how does that work?

Haley Glover: So I know that we do have some clients who will do like penny sales. Of certain product. I don't believe that there's ever been a limit on it. I would think that any state that has regulations on how much you can purchase at one time, it would apply the same to the employees and still track the actual amount of product that's being purchased at that time.

But I would say that it would be difficult to track. Maybe if they're making multiple purchases in one day, To where the state would flag it or anything. I've never seen that, but I would assume that it's probably watched a little bit on, where is this product going and who is it being registered to?

Especially if it's somewhere that's medical they do keep track of that.

Tom Mulhern: Is there solutions that you guys offer just practical solutions that Sapphire is able to offer for some of that inventory control and internal theft management.

Haley Glover: Absolutely. We do a lot of training, so we'll do anything from burglar and robbery awareness to best practices. We'll do the standard operating procedures we'll even write. The post orders that guards need to follow. And so it's just something that can hopefully be fluid for their security program in general.

And we do try to customize that per client, just because again, like you were saying, it's different from one dispensary to another and from a dispensary to a cultivation facility and transportation. So it definitely has different risks at each type of facility. So we try to train so that's already being implemented before they even get up and running and then continue training down the road.

Once they've been open for a little bit.

Tom Mulhern: When I think of security for a, a cannabis retail location, I would think of burglaries and thefts as like the main thing. Are there ways that dispensaries can mitigate those risks for burglaries or robberies or. People coming in and smash and grab, what are some ways they can help stop that from happening?

Haley Glover:  I'll start from the worst case scenario is a life is never worth that product or cash. So just listening to what they're saying, try and give them what they want and get 'em out the door as quickly as possible. Most robberies and burglaries they happen and, 60 seconds or less, it's a very quick transaction because they know that there is an alarm somewhere, so they wanna get in and outta there as quick as possible.

So if you just hand over what's there. Get 'em outta the store, know what they look like, be able to identify them. Call 9 1 1. That's, the initial reaction that we would like to see, but definitely training. With the alarm system. For example, if you are going into your facility to disarm the system for the day, so you go in and put your code into the keypad and somebody comes up behind you, they're holding you at gunpoint.

Do you know what your duress code is? So it would appear to that robber that you are disarming the system. You're letting them in. There's no alarm, but it's actually silently dispatching. So it's not sending off any signals to the robbery. It looks like you're good. And you're just open. So that's one, another one is always knowing where your panic or hold up buttons are and knowing how to use them.

That's a pretty easy one of, Hey, if something doesn't look right, just go ahead and hit it. Let's go ahead and dispatch police as soon as possible. So we can get 'em out here. And even if it's a false alarm, it's better than the possibility of something happening.

Tom Mulhern: And so that's physical security. Is there any threat of cybersecurity. That's such a huge issue in our world today with dispensaries, should they be aware of cybersecurity and some of those threats out there?

Haley Glover:  For medical dispensaries, they have certain codes that they have to follow because of patient information. So clicking on the wrong link. Could release all of their names, their addresses, their email, their phone numbers, I mean everything. And so knowing about Phishing, knowing about your firewall and all the practices that you should be implementing for a high risk business. Having somebody who can professionally. Look over your network. There's a lot that goes on to that from your point of sale to your security systems, to your workstations. So really having somebody there that can look over your business.

Everyone sleeps, everyone hopefully goes on vacation or is just unavailable at a certain time. So having a company that can detect that 24/7 is the best way that you can prevent something from happening.

Tom Mulhern: One of the goals of this podcast is to help possible dispensary owners who are ready to launch. So when should a business owner start thinking about security for their business?

Haley Glover: So I would say whenever we are doing the application, you have to provide a security overlay for some states. And whenever you're doing that, That the security overlay that's provided for your application is a great starter tool. Now, when I go back in and I redesign it, I try to implement the technology that could possibly reduce some of the costs that's associated with security.

Security's not cheap. So knowing in advance kind of what to expect for your budget, there is very important. Security can be the last thing that a lot of business owners think of. And it's. Very often that it's a small price. So having the understanding very early on having the assistance of where you might be able to save a little bit of money what's on your wants versus needs list of security devices.

But I would say before you ever start your build out, that's when you need to get somebody involved because they have to work with your general contractor and all other trades that need to be in there during the installation process. I'll tell you, nobody wants to have everyone there at one time. It doesn't work very well. so definitely before the build out.

Tom Mulhern: Obviously you've probably done some security builds that are huge and really expensive, but what is a basic ballpark that someone should put into their budget when they're setting up a dispensary for security.

Haley Glover: That's a tough one. so let's just say for a 2,500 square foot dispensary. I would say that currently with supply chain issues, which reduces the options for manufacturers, you can use it's around 65 to $95,000 for the alarms access control and surveillance system.

Tom Mulhern: That's a lot. And that's probably something that most business owners don't factor. They're thinking about location and product and maybe franchising, but they don't think through the security that's important to think about.

Haley Glover: And I'll say that whenever I see a business plan, it's so frequent that I'll see, $25,000 set aside for the security. And I immediately just go pale and I'm like, oh no, where's the rest of it. Wait, is that just for the alarm system or what's that for.

Tom Mulhern: And now Sapphire actually helps. The city, state application process with regulations and stuff. How do you guys do that? Do you come in and write it for them? Or how do you help with that regulation and applications?

Haley Glover:  So we do write the security section. And a lot of times we'll work with other consultants who write the entire application or we'll work with lawyers, really, whoever else is doing the rest of it, we want to work with them so that it is a fluid document and it does make sense from one section to another.

But we'll write those security sections. Also frequently we'll speak with some of the local municipalities, if it's a town hall meeting or speaking to the police chief, but we'll represent our clients during that process because, we're pretty decent at explaining security and what would be implemented.

So we'll try to represent them well on that so that they can win their license.

Tom Mulhern: And that's probably one of the biggest objections that a lot of municipalities would have as security. They're thinking, a there's gonna be break-ins, but also they're thinking about their local community and bringing a dispensary in. So having experts who can. You know, You've worked in so many different fields.

You can speak on behalf of these new dispensary owners and give peace of mind to the community.

Haley Glover: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I'll say that, from what we've seen is it actually decreases crime more than increases. So if we can go in and explain how safe these facilities are and. What's being implemented and then also having that community relationship so that when our clients, they win their license, we want them to be able to have open communication with all the businesses around them.

So if something happens to them, they can always say Hey, let me look at my video footage. Let's let me see if I can see anything on there, but really working as a community so that they, they can all work together because it's all legitimate business.

Tom Mulhern: What about for those delivery businesses? What are some tips that you could give for that for delivery?

Haley Glover: I would say knowing exactly what you should be doing. If there is an event that occurs. So that's where we have cameras, we'll have GPS systems. We want to make sure that they do have access to hold up our panic buttons so that they can hit that immediately, that they have a secure area in the back of the truck to where the cannabis and cash is completely whenever they are doing these deliveries.

We like to recommend to always have two employees at minimum, just so that, it's another set of eyes because I. I can't tell you how many times that I'm driving around. And I wouldn't have even noticed if somebody was walking up to me because I'm trying to grab everything outta my car, so having that redundancy and making sure that you're looking out for each other and know how to respond in the event that something were to happen.

Tom Mulhern: So you guys really provide solutions for every aspect of, a canvas business wanting to be secure, cuz in some of my conversations, I've heard about believing the industry because of security. Security was just too much, whether it was cost or just maybe it was anxiety or theft. You obviously provide these solutions for technology and training. How can you give peace of mind to some of these business owners that may be feeling that frustration or that fear, or that anxiety about security? What advice can you give them to get started to change their what they're doing when it comes to.

Haley Glover: I see a lot of companies that will hire someone to come and install their security system and their initial quote might have been great. But that integrator didn't actually read the regulations or understand them correctly. So they're having to go back in and there's change order after change order.

And then it ends up being twice as much. So first thing. Hiring somebody who knows what they're doing. It definitely might be more upfront, but there's a reason for it. It's because they know what they're doing. They want to try and include every single device and piece of installation that they can upfront.

And then they also try and add a little bit of wiggle room just in case of something were to occur. But whenever you're using somebody that really doesn't know what they're doing. And then. Out there after normal business hours and then they're charging extra for that because it's outside of those hours, it can get really expensive really quickly.

Another part of it is knowing what equipment you're getting. Like I was saying earlier is if you don't see what each device costs, how do you know where all of that's coming from? So whenever I look at bids, I wanna see each line item separately. So I can say how come that camera's $6,000. I want to make sure that's something that they actually need.

And if they don't, then let's find something that's an alternative that might be a little bit cheaper, but just really understanding what you have to have for the regulations, knowing what you might be able to swap out for something that's a little bit more reasonable. And, I understand opening these businesses is not

a cheap thing to do. It's very expensive. And whenever I hear from clients, what their total build out was, I fall outta my chair, so it's, it can get expensive very quickly. And I hate that security can be something that is overlooked because that is something that protects your business.

If know, an event occurs, your insurance company says show me your cameras. They were for some reason down because they were doing a software update in the middle of the night or anything like that. Just implementing those best practices in the very beginning. I would say that even before the application process, you can always call someone and say, Hey, what have you been seeing, price wise for a dispensary that's this big or a cultivation's really this big and just knowing in those early stages what to expect.

And so that, maybe instead of doing some, fancy decorations or overspending on your display counters or anything like that, You can do what you have to do to be able to be open and remain open. And then after getting a little bit money back that's when you can go and get some of those nicer display counters.

Tom Mulhern: Do you see any new uh, exciting like cutting edge technology or software, really making a difference in the security industry when it comes to cannabis?

Haley Glover: I would say the hot topic is analytics. It's what analytics can you perform? And then somebody else goes and does it, and then does it better. So there's a lot of really cool ones though. There's one that I recommend to pretty much. Every cultivation facility, because they typically will have a fence around the outside of their building.

There are cameras that can do what's called geofencing. So you can set this virtual fence line and have it to where it's from 10:00 PM till 8:00 AM. If somebody crosses that barrier during those times, it sets off an alarm immediately. And it, a lot of 'em are self-learning they'll know the difference between a human and animal and a car and a human.

So it's pretty cool. The technology that can be implemented. And, I say, that's why whenever you get these systems installed, know what their capabilities are, cuz some of them can do some pretty cool stuff and. Comes with it.

I spoke with somebody not too long ago, they were wanting to integrate the surveillance system with the inventory tracking so that they could see where all the plants were at all times.

But then also see if employees were tending to them as they were supposed to.

Tom Mulhern: So what is one tip that you would give to a dispensary to help them grow their business?

Haley Glover:  What I can see from a marketing perspective is there are some companies who brand really well and they grow faster than any of the other dispensaries that might have better product options, better customer service. But I think that when it comes to the branding of your location. That's a big part of it, of, are you somebody who is known that people want to go and see? And,

I think, selling merch is really cool. I love getting, t-shirts and hats and all sorts of stuff from my clients. And I wear them all the time. And of course in Texas, I get some funny looks, but , it's pretty cool to, see how a lot of companies before they even apply, they've already got their logo out, but really knowing how to.

Market your brand, of course, following your regulations per your state and city and county, but knowing what you can and cannot do, and then doing what you can do is just getting out there and being able to share your brand. I know that we have a client that's outta Massachusetts and they do a lot of community events.

They did a trash pickup, it was something where they were helping their local community and they wanted to have that involvement. And the amount of people I saw that went to this thing, I was like, that is so impressive.

Just doing those, those small little things gets your name out there. And another thing I would say is once you've already opened attending trade shows that are local. I think being able to go out there and give advice of how you got up and running and, maybe having a t-shirt or sweatshirt or something out there, or even just, some of the pens, I love the pens.

I put those on my backpack, but having stuff out there to where you can. Let other potential cannabis operators know how you got to where you are and just spreading the news and the name and developing new relationships with other people in the industry.

Tom Mulhern: Can people go to your website and find out more. And even if somebody wants to book one of the experts at Sapphire, how do they think about doing that?

Haley Glover: Yeah, absolutely. On our website. We do have about our team and you can contact us directly through there. It will take you to our email. And I think it also says our phone numbers, but it should allow you to contact us with whatever's easiest.

Tom Mulhern: Haley, thank you so much for being a part of the podcast and just for sharing your insights.

Haley Glover: That's been great. Thank you.

Tom Mulhern: I just wanna thank Haley for being on the show again and for the Sapphire Risk Advisory Group for sharing their expertise with us today. And if you wanna find out more about Sapphire and the work they're doing, or maybe you want Sapphire to come and help you as you either launch or grow your

dispensary head over to sapphirerisk.com and you can find out more about the work they're doing. You can meet some of their experts and really start to take security seriously, because at the end of the day, we are in a high risk industry and making sure that you have the security in place that you need is gonna make your business just grow like never before.

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