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Keeping cannabis safe: The security threats facing the sector

As the global cannabis industry expands, those in the supply chain are facing increased risk of security threats.

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Cannabis Security

Security footage from a US cannabis grow-op

As the global cannabis industry expands, those in the supply chain are facing increased risk of security threats, Cannabis Health reports.

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly across the globe.

As the sector expands, so does the number of grow operations, warehouses and dispensaries which all house high-value, highly regulated substances that many are willing to risk prosecution to lay their hands on.

It comes as no surprise then that cannabis companies are at a high risk of security threats such as robbery and theft.

And it’s not just the products themselves that are at risk.

In the US, as cannabis remains illegal on a federal level, many firms struggle to open business accounts with mainstream banks, meaning that dispensaries often require its customers to pay in cash. This only adds to the sector’s susceptibility to break-ins.

Unfortunately, cannabis companies must also be wary of their employees. As the black market continues to thrive in spite of legalisation efforts, dispensaries and cultivators have to keep an eye on their employees who may see an opportunity to swipe their employer’s products to sell on the illicit market.

Due to these risks, some US territories have made it mandatory for cannabis dispensaries to submit their security plans to local law enforcement for approval before being allowed to open.

Scott Thomas Genetec

Scott Thomas, national director of signature brands at Genetec

Cannabis Health sat down with security expert Scott Thomas over Zoom to find out more about the security challenges faced by the cannabis sector.

Thomas is the national director of signature brands at Genetec, a security company that has become a popular choice in North America for cannabis companies looking to keep their premises safe and secure.

Currently, in the US, 16 states have legalised cannabis for recreational use and 36 states have legalised medical cannabis. On a national level, the substance is still illegal, so regulations can differ significantly from state to state.

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“Each one of those states is going to have very specific regulations and requirements,” Thomas said.

“They want to make sure that the product is totally safe from seed to sale, that it is absolutely contained and that there is no potential harm or any type of additives that can be put into the crop.

“They also want to make sure that all the sales are done legally, they want to make sure that there’s proper verification of the age of the purchaser, and they want to make sure that if it’s from a medicinal standpoint, there’s an actual prescription. There are quite a few physical security requirements to guarantee that those regulations are followed.”

Thomas breaks down the security requirements into three categories; video, access control and intrusion notification.

What sets the cannabis industry apart from other regulated markets, he said, is the requirement for video retention in many US jurisdictions, some of which ask for a record of up to two years of video footage.

As any discrepancies in inventory could lead to large fines and other penalties, Thomas stressed the importance of keeping products under constant surveillance at every stage of the seed to sale process.

“[One of] the most fundamental requirements, and this is absolutely germane across all the jurisdictions, countries and states that we deal with is video,” Thomas explained.

“There needs to be video evidence, and this is where some of these regulations vary quite a bit.

In some cases, they will require the entire cultivation growing area, the processing area where the product is packaged for consumption or possibly turned into other products, the retail area where it is sold and the warehousing or the storage area where it is kept.

Cannabis security

Genetec’s security systems are used by cannabis companies across the US and Canada

“All of those things need to be under observation. If there are any discrepancies in inventory they need to be able to go back and try and identify where it happened.”

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If a camera is to go offline for any reason, the company is required to make the regulator aware as soon as possible and have a backup device on hand to ensure video footage continues to be captured.

“All cameras and systems have built-in ‘Genetec Health Monitoring’ inside of them. If, for example, a camera were to stop working for whatever reason, it gives them that notification.”

Access control is another key factor in keeping cannabis operations secure, Thomas continued: “This includes locked doors, credentialed employees, limiting access and the ability to audit who has the authority to enter those areas and make sure that only those people go into those restricted parts of the establishment.”

The cannabis sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world right now. Companies are expanding quickly and as an increasing number of territories are legalising the drug, cannabis firms are eager to expand into these new regions. But, with that comes yet another set of regulations.

Thomas uses one of Genetec’s clients, an unnamed US company that is trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, as an example.

“What they have done is looked at the most stringent regulations they’re currently using in a given state and then mirrored that across all of their different locations,” Thomas explained.

“Their thinking is that regardless of regulations getting more stringent or eased up, they’re going to be absolutely protected across that entire enterprise; none of their sites will fail to meet that regulatory requirement.”

The firm has also centralised its security operation centre – known in the industry as a ‘sock’ – which, according to Thomas, is “unique” for companies of this type.

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“By doing this, they’re able to understand if there are violations of their own protocols with regards to people trying to access areas that they shouldn’t and they have our intrusion alarm integration built into that system so if there’s a break-in they’ll know,” he said.

“These are some of the unique things that we’ve built. With the Genetec platform, we’re able to put all of that into a single pane of glass. And since we are software, our product scales very easily.”

Another common problem faced by cannabis dispensaries in particular is people attempting to purchase more cannabis products than is allowed under local regulations.

Some states, for example, prevent individuals from purchasing more than a certain amount of cannabis over a given time. This means verification and identification is vital to ensure cannabis dispensaries are not enabling unlawful sales.

Genetec interfaces its video system with identification information to prevent a customer from using a fake, borrowed or stolen ID to buy more than their allowance.

Based in Montreal, Genetec became involved in the cannabis sector as the plant started to gain acceptance in Canada several years ago. The company produces software platforms to support physical security devices and since launching in 1997, it has become the largest manufacturer in the world of this type of technology.

The company now works across the North American continent, keeping cannabis grow-ops, storage facilities and dispensaries safe and secure.

Currently operating in the US and Canadian cannabis sectors, Thomas says that Genetec intends to expand into the EU market, including the UK, as the cannabis sector continues to open up.

“We will absolutely be at the forefront of trying to work with the folks that want to start businesses there and get them up and rolling,” Thomas added.

“We anticipate the same security requirements would be applied in these different countries and jurisdictions as we’re seeing in the US and Canada.”

Industry

How The Good Level is changing the UK CBD market for the better

The brand is bringing new energy to the UK CBD market

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The Good Level CBD founders
The Good Level CBD founders, Joe and Jonny

The Good Level is bringing new energy to the UK CBD market by focusing on quality, local products and supporting British farming.

The Good Level is a UK-based CBD company actively working to improve cannabidiol production and distribution in the UK. It works closely with operators throughout the supply chain and builds personal relationships with farmers to deliver higher quality products to customers.

The Good Level’s founders were suffering first hand as a result of the wildly varying standard of CBD within the UK market. They discovered several issues that appeared to be common across the industry, such as the reliance on imported hemp, majorly from China and the USA, alongside poor hygiene practices and chemical extraction techniques.

This discovery gave the brand’s founders, Joe and Jonny, an idea. Instead of following standard business practice and importing hemp from overseas, they would create a brand that offered customers the quality that they themselves wanted locally. Most importantly, led by farmers they had met and chemists they could trust.

“We don’t rely on farming and extraction methods by growers that we have never met and farms that we have never seen,” Joe and Jonny say.

Instead, they focus on developing personal relationships with farmers and vetting all sources.

During their search for CBD, the pair found it “incredibly difficult” to find the right oil. They wanted “something that tickled all [their] boxes” but couldn’t find anything suitable. They discovered that quality varied dramatically from brand to brand, and even batch to batch.

Originally, Joe and Jonny made CBD oil for their own benefit. But they soon saw that their products could benefit a large number of other people who were also searching for quality CBD made in Britain

Joe’s journey toward CBD began in 2016, reading through a journal article discussing the medicinal applications within infantile epilepsy. He had stumbled across the article following numerous accounts from comics in the US proclaiming the stark benefits regular CBD use has brought to their active lifestyles. Once he had seen the science had matched the stories, he tried it for himself and hasn’t looked back since.

Jonny found CBD independently after discovering how it can potentially help people with active lifestyles. He had tried several other high street products, but none of them had worked in the way that he had hoped.

These experiences encouraged Joe and Jonny to build their own brand. They began scouring the UK for farmers who could provide them with the inputs that they required to set up their firm and soon found one in Somerset. They vetted his growing and extraction processes to ensure that his methods were able to support their wellbeing and before long, “family and friends saw the benefits of adhering to such a high quality process.”

Now, the pair say the same process is available to the public.

The Good Level team welcomed the addition of new brand ambassador, Shanaze Read, in August 2021. Shanaze, who is a three-time UCI BMX World Champion & two-time Team Sprint World Champion, hopes to leverage her experience and network to change public opinion of cannabis-based products.

The Good Level offers full-spectrum CBD made of hemp from high-quality UK-based growers to customers throughout the country. It avoids imports and ensures that its oils retain the full terpene content of the hemp plant – constituents which may confer additional health benefits beyond cannabinoids alone.

For more information about the brand, please visit thegoodlevel.com. Email at sales@thegoodlevel.com or call 01628 968897.

 

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Cannabis legalisation not linked to rise in car accidents, says study

Cannabis legalisation sparked fears that it would increase driving-related emergency rooms admission

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cannabis legalisation car accidents

A team of researchers have studied emergency room records and determined that cannabis legalisation in Canada has not resulted in an increase in admissions.

The data published in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that there has been no increase in two provinces, Alberta and Ontario.

Canada legalised cannabis in 2018, which led to concerns that it would increase the number of traffic injuries, especially among young drivers.

The researchers, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of British Columbia, assessed emergency department records to find any patterns in traffic-injury visits in the months leading to the legalisation and immediately afterwards.

They separated the drivers into two groups focusing on adult drivers and teenagers aged 14 to 18-years-old.

Cannabis legalisation and drivers

They reported: “The current study found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalisation patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

“Given that Canada’s Cannabis Act mandated that the Canadian Parliament review the public health consequences of the Act no later than 2023, the findings of the current study can provide empirical data not only for the Canadian evaluation of the calculus of harms and benefits but also for other international jurisdictions weighing the merits and drawbacks of cannabis legalisation policies.”

The Canadian data is consistent with studies from the United States that show no changes in traffic safety in the months following legalisation.

The study does not take into account the longer-term implications of legalisation despite other studies producing mixed results.

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A study from earlier this year reported that drivers who use cannabis may not feel as impaired as someone else who used the same amount but a different strain.

Read more: Cannabis shortage may have caused a rise in synthetic cannabinoids being consumed

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Advocacy

UK Fibromyalgia to host two-part webinar on medical cannabis and CBD

A two-part series will educate on the experiences of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis

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UK Fibromyalgia, a magazine dedicated to the chronic condition, will host a two-part webinar discussing the role that medical cannabis and CBD can play in treatment.

UK Fibromyalgia has joined forces with Integro Clinics, Primary Care Cannabis Network, Cannabis Patient Advocacy and Support Services (CPASS) and PLEA (Patient-led Engagement for Access) to present a two-part webinar discussing fibromyalgia, arthritis and cannabis medicines.

An approximate 1.5-2 million people suffer from fibromyalgia and 10 million have arthritis in the UK. The management of the symptoms of these conditions can take a long time to diagnose correctly and can take even longer before they are effectively brought under control.

This two-part series aims to educate attendees on the experiences and lives of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as show the benefits that cannabis medicines and CBD can have in alleviating symptoms of these conditions.

Ann-Marie Bard is one of three patients, who will be speaking at the second episode of the webinar. She suffers from fibromyalgia and takes medical cannabis to manage her symptoms. She shares her story from diagnosis to gaining her CBMP prescription and describes how it has improved her quality of life.

Ann-Marie’s story

Ann-Marie was a respected and accomplished full-time dental surgeon, having practised for over 25 years before she developed fibromyalgia.

In October 2018, she started to experience unexplained pain all over her body, but as is very common, she did not get a final diagnosis until March 2021. She eventually saw a rheumatologist, who was able to classify what she was experiencing as fibromyalgia. This only happened as a result of an emergency dash to the hospital as she was in such crippling pain.

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Anne-Marie said: “I had a major flare-up at work and had to go to the hospital, it was just terrible. I was in severe pain and couldn’t walk, this was by far the worst attack I had ever had. That’s when things became clear and having seen a rheumatologist, I found out it was fibromyalgia, causing my pain.”

“I was put on various medications such as steroids and pain killers; tramadol, amitriptyline and duloxetine. At first, these helped the pain slightly, but the side effects made me feel like a zombie, I had ‘brain fog’, exhaustion and I wasn’t able to drive while I was on them.”

Her fibromyalgia led to her losing the full use of her hands and she was left unable to grip, which meant that she could no longer perform surgery. This had a devastating effect on her mental and psychical health.

It reached the point, that the side effects of these conventional medicines were becoming unbearable. She had first read about Dr Anthony Ordman, a well-known pain consultant and medical lead at Integro Clinics in a UK Fibromyalgia Magazine.

Ann-Marie decided that medicinal cannabis might be worth trying as a solution to her pain. After first seeing Dr Ordman, she immediately felt that she had come to the right place to help her deal with her condition.

Anne-Marie said: “Dr Ordman made me so calm and at ease. I found the whole process so easy because I was speaking to someone who truly listened, understood everything there is to know about fibromyalgia and cared. He really went the extra mile, keeping my GP in the loop and letting them know exactly what he was going to prescribe. Speaking to him made me feel secure and that I was going to get the help that I needed.”

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Ann-Marie was prescribed a mix of THC and CBD cannabis oil, which she found had a hugely positive and beneficial effect.

UK Fibromyalgia: A blue and white logo for the charity UK Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and cannabis

She added: “The cannabis oil has helped me so much, taking it means I can actually get on with things like yoga, gardening and driving as there is no ‘brain fog’ effect. I can be present mentally, rather than being spaced out and spend more quality time with my family. For me, there are no side effects from the oil, it doesn’t feel like it did when I was on all of the traditional medications. The oil has given me my life back. Cannabis medicines really should be more accessible for everyone, they have changed my life and I believe they can help people in a similar situation to me.”

Ann-Marie believes that more needs to be done to raise awareness when it comes to medical cannabis. She thinks that the NHS should understand that it really is a substantial alternative to conventional medicines.

She explained: “I’m taking part in the webinar because I believe, ultimately, that this medicine should be more accessible. Fibromyalgia sufferers should have access to information about medical cannabis and I hope to raise more awareness of it, letting people know that there are other options than just traditional opioids.”

To register for this free event please follow the links to get your tickets:
Part 1: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168090997699
Part 2: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168112536121

If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics:

Website: www.integroclinics.com
Email: Contact@integroclinics.com
Twitter: @clinicsintegro

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Dr Anthony Ordman senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director Integro concluded: Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.

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Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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