Security in the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Industry

Security in the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Industry

An Overview of Security Requirements for Medicinal Cannabis Farms

The Australian government outlines strict protocols for the security of premises growing or distributing medicinal cannabis. This is to ensure the safety of both the employees of these workplaces as well as the wellbeing of individuals within communities across Australia. As of 2021, Marijuana, which contains the active drug ingredient Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a narcotic classed as a schedule 1 drug. Hence, the necessity for effective security is clear.

Is it Legal to Grow Cannabis in Australia?

In 2016 the Australian government approved the cultivation of cannabis plants and the production of cannabis-related drugs for medical and scientific purposes. In order to be approved for a medicinal cannabis licence, there are a range of security measures that are required of facilities. Outside of these facilities cannabis plants remain highly illegal to grow or possess. In fact, the illegal possession of cannabis for personal use (without a doctors prescription) is punishable by up to two years in prison.

The Office of Drug Control: Security of Medicinal Cannabis Guidelines

The Australian Department of Health oversees the Office of Drug Control within Australia, who are responsible for regulating and licensing medicinal cannabis farms. The Office of Drug Control put in place Security of Medicinal Cannabis guidelines in 2016. These guidelines outline all the necessary security precautions that must be taken at all facilities storing or growing medicinal cannabis. Before a license is granted, a thorough onsite inspection must take place and hence, adhering to these strict security guidelines is imperative.

These guidelines exist to allow applicants for these licences to demonstrate compliance with all security requirements for their specific facility. The guidelines were created to reflect five key principles:

  • Deter: to discourage a person or people from attempting to breach security measures.
  • Delay: the act of making a breach of security measure more difficult or slower, providing time for defence or leading to the intrusion to be abandoned.
  • Deny: measures taken that allow some people access while decline access to others.
  • Detect: to discover or notice any security breaches.
  • Defend: actions taken to respond to a security breach.

To address all five of these principles, the security of medicinal cannabis is extremely complex and requires assistance from experienced security advisors specialising in security design.

Significant Risk for Medicinal Cannabis Farms

The guidelines outline the most significant risks those running medicinal cannabis farms are likely to experience, these are:

  • Unauthorised access by external personnel.
  • Unauthorised access by an employee or visitor.
  • Authorised access by an employee or visitor.

To prevent these a range of security measures must be taken. In addition, if a breach of security does occur, it must be identified and reported to the relevant authorities as soon as possible.

Mandatory Requirements

The guideline for the security of medicinal cannabis has a variety of mandatory requirements pertaining to the security of all facilities involved, these address the following areas:

  • Access Control: access controls must be in place for all employees, contractors, visitors or any other individual who may need access to the facility. There must be means to deny access to unauthorised individuals.
  • Intruder Resistance: several physical and technological measures must be carefully designed and constructed to prevent intruders.
  • Crop Integrity: A medicinal cannabis farm must comply with the number and type of plant outlined on their licence.
  • Detection and Response: facilities must be able to detect and respond to any unauthorised access to cannabis.
  • Procedural Security Measures: procedural measures should be integrated with physical infrastructure to ensure intruder resistance.
  • Disposal and Destruction of Cannabis: any arrangements in regards to the disposal and distribution of cannabis must be carefully considered.
This is a brief overview providing an outline of the complexity involved in the security requirements for a cannabis farm. It is strongly recommended that before applying for a licence you consult with an experienced security advisor. If you need assistance with security design and implantation at a cannabis facility, please reach out to the E2E team here.