Dispensaries Designed from Existing Banks

Cannabis Industry Architects & Engineers

The world of banking can be a double-edged sword in the cannabis industry due to the difficulty dispensaries have obtaining banking services and then there is the idea to locate your dispensary within a facility that is an existing bank. Locating dispensaries in existing banks with vaults has become a trend all over the US due to the security benefits and facility flow. More specifically, the process needed for secure storage of cannabis products and cash is more easily managed and can be given to the patient more efficiently.

Dispensaries need a safe space to physically store their cash because most are cash only businesses. The entire cannabis industry deals mainly with cash and this is because banks have taken a firm stance against serving any cannabis-related businesses. Banks don’t want to take a risk with a cannabis industry client because cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug according to the federal government. As a result, dispensaries are not able to accept credit cards, meaning customers can only pay in cash. This then puts patients at risk of robbery due to common knowledge that medical and recreational cannabis patients always have cash on them when entering a dispensary and also puts staff at risk knowing dispensaries keep large amounts of cash on hand. In fact, according to Wharton University of Pennsylvania, in 2015 cannabis dispensaries had a 50% chance of getting robbed or burglarized. Also, the same University mentioned that when burglars steal cash from a dispensary, they are usually taking anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 compared to convenience stores which is around $750 and banks which is around $7,500.

An existing bank’s highly secure vault is what makes it so appealing to dispensary owners. Security is the number one concern at any cannabis related facility and especially dispensaries. As we have seen from the paragraph above, dispensaries are on their guard constantly since they have inventory and cash on-hand and on-site. Other additional security threats that should be taken into account include cyber-theft and employee diversion.

Patient circulation through the dispensary along with their safety is a vital part of the design process and should start with a conversation. From there, the team will come together to start the conceptual design process.

Another compelling aspect of existing banks is that they are usually located in a centralized part of the city. This is great for brand awareness and community integration, but it also puts many eyes on the dispensary, so the dispensary needs to keep their eyes on the street. Security team members monitor for potential assailants around the clock. The exterior perimeter of the dispensary should be scattered with plants and foliage that serve as a barrier but also make sure the landscape is not too thick that assailants use them as hiding places. Additionally, the reception window should be bulletproof. Banks usually have a decent set up as far as people flow but dispensary owners rearrange the layout of the building to meet their exact needs.

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