Security measures lowered for cannabis facilities


Even though Health Canada recently reduced the required security measures for cannabis facilities, one producer in the area says his facility will maintain a higher level of security.

Health Canada has reduced the amount of security cameras needed where cannabis is grown and no longer requires vaults for storing cannabis.

Clint Weir, founding director of Atlas Growers, said the medical cannabis facility intends to proceed with its plans to install a vault given the remoteness of its location. Atlas Growers is a privately-owned medical cannabis facility located in Lac Ste. Anne County, northwest of Edmonton. Jim Hole, owner of Hole’s Greenhouse in St. Albert, is a consultant with the company.

“We want to make sure that we’re keeping an eye on everything,” said Weir. “We’re not going to change our standard operating procedures.”

Weir said the Atlas facility is almost ready to fill with cannabis plants. With only a few things left to install, the vault is one of them.

“We’ve recognized that the remoteness of the area, and the significant amount of expansion we have planned for the future, we thought it was socially responsible for the area there to make sure we had a vault,” he said.

Weir said the cost of the vault outweighs the risk when it comes to preventing break-ins at the facility.

When it comes to Health Canada’s security changes, Weir said he didn’t want to comment on whether they were good or not. He said he worries how this will impact security.

Weir said it would make it easier for people to break in, but said the marketplace is evolving. With cannabis being legalized, Weir expects the lure to steal cannabis will go down.

“The product is going to become a lot more commonplace, and won’t be such an attraction for organized crime,” he said.

Health Canada announced the changes on Jan. 25. In a press release, the national health organization said that keeping areas where cannabis is grown under constant video surveillance and storing cannabis in vaults did not impact the drug from getting into the black market.

With the changes, facilities will only need to have entrances recorded on video surveillance, along with keeping a record of every person who enters and exits the storage area.

Only those who work directly in the storage area are permitted access to it. Additionally, the area must be kept in a secure place within the facility.

Weir said the company would continue to keep video surveillance in each room. While security was one reason, he said it was mostly to keep an eye on how the plants are growing.

“Just from a quality-control standpoint, we want to make sure that if there was an error made in growing, we want to be able to rectify it as quick as possible,” he said.

He said surveillance would also ensure that their employees don’t steal some of the product on their way out.

Atlas is in its final stages of becoming a certified cannabis producer in Alberta. The last step is getting cannabis plants into the building so Alberta Health can inspect the facility and the product.

Pure Selections,  a new company with plans to build a cannabis facility in Sturgeon County, declined to comment on what type of security they will have or what they thought about the changes.

In January the company presented to Morinville council plans to build a 10,000 square-foot medicinal cannabis processing and distribution centre. The company did not say when they plan to start the development.


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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.