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Safes – Your Last Line of Defense

Cannabis business owners, it’s time to face reality. You run a business that has a large amount of cash on hand and a very desirable piece of merchandise. There are people out there who will think nothing about stealing both from you. So why would you trust your hard earn assets in a gun safe or filing cabinet?


Believe it or not, gun safes and filing cabinets belong in the same defensive category. They have similar construction and only claim to protect their contents from heat, not physical attack. File cabinets are built for fire protection and to keep information confidential and gun safes are built to compliment the owner’s collection of weapons. It is essentially a piece of furniture, not considered a commercial defense product against even the entry level criminal. Have you ever seen a jeweler lock his inventory up in a gun safe?

Take a minute and assess how much your inventory is worth. $50k? $200k? $500k? $1M? Even on the low end, your security strategy must equate to your risk. Many less experienced security firms, perhaps new to the cannabis industry, suggest gun safes as an adequate defense to protect assets. Gun safes are able to keep unauthorized persons off the guns in a controlled environment, but generally speaking are not designed to ward off a tool attack even for a few minutes. More than 90% of all gun safe manufacturers (domestic and off shore product) describe their elevation of defensive construction by citing the layers of sheetrock used in the safe. They do not mention the steel as the sheetrock is wrapped in light gauge metal, anywhere from 12 to 16 gauge metal, with a pretty paint job. SHEETROCK? Really? This gives it a very basic fire resistance, but offers minimal resistance to tool attack and no resistance to the more sophisticated tools associated with burglaries perpetrated in the high asset world. Gun safes are built for residential storage of personal weapon collections, no more, no less.  A gun safe is nothing more than low-cost gauge steel with sheetrock in the walls.

Lastly, insurance brokers for this industry may not be requiring “tool and lock” (TL) rated safes right now but they will most likely in the near future require cash and cannabis product stored in a TL rated safe. A TL rated safe has been designed and tested to withstand an attack for a period of time. For example, a TL15 rated safe is designed to withstand an attack for more than 15 minutes, a TL30 is designed for 30 minutes etc. There are many different rated safes such as a TL15, TL30, TL30x6 etc. Think of it as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating for safes. There are even safes with a separate steel drawer system encased inside the safe. Why is that best use of a safe? If a professional criminal attacks your store, and actually defeated the side wall of the safe, he will be extremely disappointed when he discovers these internal compartments. He will be mentally defeated when he realizes his tools will be unlikely to fit through the hole he has made to attack the steel drawers inside. Gun safes do not have a TL rating because they are designed for ….. GUNS.

The good news – the cannabis industry is not that unique from a security stand point and certainly it is not the first industry of its kind to have these theft challenges. Consider the industries of jewelers, pawnbroker, firearms, vapor, pharmacies, etc. when designing your security plan and remember properly protecting your cash and your inventory can spell the difference between being profitable and being out of business.

Key Points:

  1. Your security challenges are not unique.
  2. Your risks are shared with other high risk businesses.
  3. Your security program is a state of mind not a task.

Be Safe and Be Profitable

Tony Gallo is the Senior Director of Sapphire Protection ( with over 30 years in the Loss Prevention, Audit, Safety, and Risk/Emergency Management fields. Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University and is a member of Americans for Safe Access and National Cannabis Industry Association. Tony is considered one of the leading authorities in cannabis and financial loan service retail loss prevention and security. Contact Tony at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SapphireProtect.

Rob MeagherRob Meagher

Rob Meagher

Rob Meagher, CBE’s Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief is a 30 year veteran of the media world. His career has spanned from stints representing the Washington Post, USA Weekend, Reader’s Digest, Financial World & Corporate Finance to the technology world where he worked at International Data Group and Ziff Davis where he was part of the launch team for The Web Magazine, Yahoo Internet Life, Smart Business and Expedia Travels before starting his own marketing and Publisher’s Representative Firm. He also ran all print and online media sales and marketing for the Society for Human Resource Management before partnering with Forbes and then Fortune to create Special Sections covering a variety of topics. Rob, who started CBE Press in 2014, can be contacted at [email protected]

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