Securing Cannabis from Point A to Point B

Thomas Gerstenecker
February 22, 2018
By Thomas Gerstenecker
THEFT PROTECTION: When transporting cannabis, LPs must follow some basic risk management principles and have a chain of signature process in place.
THEFT PROTECTION: When transporting cannabis, LPs must follow some basic risk management principles and have a chain of signature process in place. Photo: Fotolia
Did you know that banks are not federally mandated to use armoured transport to move money?

But they do. Primarily, to reduce theft, keep insurance premiums low and maintain shareholder confidence – just to name a few reasons.

This also holds true in the cannabis industry for there are no regulatory requirements for using a security company to safely transport cannabis. However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used in support of Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

I am often asked, “Why do you need armed officers and armoured trucks for cannabis? Just use Canada Post... or, "You don’t see the provincial liquor stores using security when transporting liquor.” My answer doesn’t always suggest armoured vehicles nor armed officers. It all depends on the amount and value of what we transport – it’s all about applying fundamental risk management practices. Theft from a cannabis transport vehicle has other higher risk factors, including: the ease of moving the packages; product being quickly introduced into the black market; the LPs reputation is at stake; stakeholder confidence; and duty-of-care.

Regardless of the size of the operation, every LP should look at the security of their supply chain, including how they transport their product. Secure transportation may come in the form of a soft-skin (non-armoured) van transporting 10 Kgs of dried cannabis, or 2,000 live plants delivered to an LP in a neighbouring province, or 600 cubic feet of cannabis transported across Canada. Whatever the situation, the key is getting the product to the end destination, but making sure the cannabis is delivered intact, especially when dealing with live plants.

Every time cannabis is transported between locations, an enhanced secure transport plan should be in place, which could include an armoured vehicle, armed officers, a detailed route and action plan, supported by real-time GPS monitoring and geo-fencing software, among a number of other critical components, such as courier Chain of Signature software.

Chain of Signature is vital, regardless of size or value of load being transported. This allows companies to monitor each package/transport in real time using state-of-the-art technology, in addition to the product to be released from the outgoing LP. Hence the need for extensive cannabis-specific liability insurance.

When it comes to securing the product via supply chain, LPs must always consider a number of critical factors, including when to use a secure transport supplier. Given the type of cargo being transported, it doesn’t always fall within the norm, at least not yet. As mentioned, ensuring your product is not compromised during transport may be critical to the growth of your operation, and may directly impact your customer and key stakeholder base. Below, I provide a few tips to keep in mind when partnering with a secure transport supplier.

Ideally, cannabis shouldn’t be transported in standard cash-in-transit trucks that may have other liabilities, such as cash alongside, which may increase the risk when it comes to attacks – it’s an added risk that LPs should seriously consider. In addition, other variables include the cleanliness of the cargo area; the ability to have ambient temperature controlled systems (HVAC) for the product, particularly during extreme temperatures and longer haul shipments. The supplier vehicles should allow easy on and off loading via dock-level and/or forklift access. This reduces the time it takes to load/unload (no hand-bombing), but also less wear and tear on the package itself, and less exposure to extreme temperatures, be it hot or cold.

Providers should also have the flexibility to offer a menu of options. This allows greater flexibly when it comes to the type of vehicle used (armoured or non-armoured), as well as the number of security officers, and if they require to be armed or unarmed. It all comes down to applying risk fundamentals, with the ultimate goal of saving time and money.

The ability to not only provide effective vehicle tracking, but also enhanced real-time monitoring of the vehicle and cargo packaging itself is a key component to Chain of Signature.

LPs should have drivers who have security clearance, basic cannabis knowledge, and can appreciate the cargo they are transporting. In addition to associated potential risks in terms of impact of the cargo not being properly secured in place, or during long haul/extreme temperatures, the value of having the right ambient temperature is easily seen.

While the above points are certainly not exhaustive, they do provide a snapshot into some areas to be concerned with.

The cannabis market within Canada is moving fast, so when it comes to secure transport of the product in various forms, careful consideration must be given when using secure transport companies. A risk-based approach will also define the level of transport needed as many situations are unique. Ensuring Chain of Signature, cannabis-specific insurance coverage, enhanced efficiencies when loading/unloading, professional and cleared security officers, and providing the right ambient cargo environment are key aspects that will guarantee successful product delivery.

Thomas Gerstenecker ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is the founder and CEO of Sixty Secure, an Ottawa based company providing secure transport of cannabis for licenced producers.
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