How to Prevent Theft in your Cannabis Dispensary

You took the leap and decided to open a cannabis dispensary. You’ve got everything in place and now you’re ready to start hiring!

Each year, retail establishments lose around $60 million to employee theft. Cannabis dispensaries report that about 90% of their loss in product and cash is due to theft by their own employees.  

As a dispensary owner…

There are steps you can take to prevent theft from happening. The very first step is obviously finding quality employees who can be trusted to run the day-to-day operation of your dispensary. This can be achieved by doing thorough background checks, getting/checking multiple references, conducting multiple interviews with candidates, etc. But before any employees set foot in your dispensary, it’s imperative you have everything in place so your dispensary will run smoothly and your employees remain honest. 

One of the first steps is to install a high-quality security system with cameras stationed throughout the building. Additionally, States require dispensaries to do what’s called track and trace from the time retail operations begin. Implementing a good quality Point of Service (POS) system, specifically for cannabis sales, allows you to maintain inventory and transactions and can also be set up to sync with the state reporting systems.  A good POS will make reporting and inventory tracking much easier!


When employees do finally begin working with you, you should have training in place and an employee manual setting out your expectations. Adequate training not only minimizes mistakes and improves the quality of business; it also makes employees feel confident, competent and part of the team which also contributes to preventing theft. In your employee manual, there should be a section that deals with employee theft and the consequences thereof. This is extremely important in the event that you are involved in litigation, and will set proper expectations for your employees from the get-go.

It’s important to have at least two employees working together at all times, especially when it comes to counting cash or handling inventory. If you’re going to do deliveries, you should hire employees to do delivery only. This keeps positions from overlapping which increases accountability due to eliminating ways to “cover-up” the incident. It also makes it easier to trace events to track down the employee(s) if a theft were to occur.

Here are some tried and true ways to prevent theft:

  • Don’t allow employees to make their own purchases. Make it a rule to have another employee ring them up.   
  • Treat your employees fair by paying them well. Happy employees are less likely to steal.
  • Offer employee discounts and it is ideal to put some limits the amount they can purchase.
  • Make sure they are aware of the consequences.
  • Employees should all be trained in security measures.
  • Hire the main manager to oversee employees if you don’t plan on being there.
  • Set a good example.
  • Schedule regular employee meetings and create an environment that encourages open communication.

As you can see, risk management and preventing employee theft isn’t complicated. It just involves some simple steps that will pay off in the long run. These are just a few ideas that can help keep your employees honest and prevent your inventory and cash from disappearing.

If you have ideas, thoughts or comments about ways to prevent theft for cannabis businesses, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below!


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