On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the use of cannabis by adults. This makes his state the fifteenth in the United States (plus the District of Columbia) to approve the plant for recreational use. The law – which also overturns some previous marijuana convictions – is expected to generate millions of dollars in revenue for New York, as similar laws have done in the fourteen faster lawmakers.
But just like other US states that allow adult use, New York law won’t stop pharmacy crime – and retail store owners are largely on their own to protect their businesses and employees.
So, How safe is the cannabis industry? Unfortunately, the answer can be “not very”.
For example, California legalized adult use in November 2016. The Los Angeles Police Department recorded more than 100 drug offenses in 2018; the number rose within the first nine months of 2019 by a little more than 10 percent to 115 criminal offenses in pharmacies. A series of drug store break-ins occurred in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and other cities in May and June 2020. The thieves ran away with cash and goods, and an Oakland employee was killed.
Colorado legalized adult use in 2012 and had its share of pharmacy-related crime as well. In one episode in Colorado Springs, teenagers drove a delivery truck through the front of a pharmacy shop and ran off with oregano glasses that were on display as a substitute for dried grass.
These and similar reports show that law enforcement agencies cannot always protect pharmacies, so business owners both come up with their own solutions (ex.
Criminals are smart and will almost certainly find a way to break a company’s digital and / or physical security measures. Fighting criminals on multiple fronts at once is inherently difficult, and one wrong decision can mean the difference between recovering and closing a business. While there are benefits to hiring a security guard for $ 20 an hour, those costs add up quickly and don’t really ensure security. As a result, more and more pharmacies are turning to solutions that combine human security guards to protect their storefronts and artificial intelligence to protect their websites and other digital assets. AI-powered devices such as lights, cameras and locks also play a role in protecting companies, their employees and their products.
The benefits of AI, especially in terms of personal and professional safety, are no stranger to me. I founded Amazon’s AI-based consumer optimization team and helped develop the retail giant’s first AI algorithms – algorithms that set new standards for data personalization in today’s digital world. Now, I devote my time to helping cannabis business owners better understand how to prevent falling victim to crime.
While I’m a big advocate of AI-powered security systems, I also encourage business owners to remember the basics, including:
Enlightenment: Install lighting around your business. Criminals are less likely to commit crimes in well-lit areas because they don’t want to be seen.
Doors and windows: Invest in safe, shatterproof doors and windows. In many cases, no new glass is required. Films such as 3M’s Safety & Security Window Film can provide adequate protection against break-ins.
Security system: Consider installing a comprehensive, proactive security system instead of a traditional reactive system that uses window and door sensors. Proactive systems use AI to identify and assess potential threats and prevent crime before it happens. Reactive systems are waiting for a break-in.
Cash handling: Implement a strict and controlled chain of ownership strategy. Know how money is flowing through your business and secure it every step of the way. Here, too, AI can help with biometric identification.
One final note for New Yorkers, not only do you tell your customers that they are protecting your business, they are also telling them to protect themselves. AI-powered security systems are also widespread for home use and could prove valuable to New Yorkers who intend to take advantage of the new law that allows adults to grow up to twelve plants at home.
David Selinger Founded Depth Guard in 2016 when he saw the potential of artificial intelligence to reinvent the security industry. He began his career in research and development at Amazon, where he developed the first commercial product recommendation system. He is a co-founder of Silicon Climate and an advisor to Opus 12, Gridcure and the Rainforest Connection.