Key and Asset Control for the Cannabis Industry – Interview with Morse Watchmans

In the cannabis industry, security is of the utmost importance. Operators must often go above and beyond to ensure their product is safe at all times. Additionally, compliance regulations often require multiple layers of protection in the interest of both license holders and the community.

Morse Watchmans has been a trusted provider of key control and access management products for generations. Originally founded in 1882, the company has evolved alongside technological revolutions to become the top name in business security for a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to casinos.

Learn more about how Morse Watchmans is helping cannabis operators stay safe, their visions of the future of security compliance, and what industry newcomers should know in this exclusive Leafwire Q&A interview.

Leafwire: How did you come to enter the cannabis space?

Morse Watchmans:  We started to research this industry probably three years ago. We would say that it’s really been over the last year and a half, that we’re really becoming more active in the industry. We are the only ones doing this, we’re the only ones putting our toes in the water within this industry. So, we think that we’re ahead of all of our competitors.

We’ve been dabbling in it for a few years. We look at it like any sector, we think that the opportunity for growth is tremendous. We believe that the cannabis market is going to grow exponentially and that there will be a need for our products with upcoming legislation.

We look at it as the casino world in the early stages. The casinos didn’t have much legislation in the early days. However, gaming commissions came into play and state legislations fell into place. They have specific laws for key control and asset management. We believe the same is going to happen to the cannabis industry. It’s still in its early infancy stages. We believe that source key control is a part of the security package that cultivators, distributors, and retailers should have as part of their security package.

The first thing that comes to mind is that string of burglaries in San Francisco, we We believe there were 27 facilities that were hit in a short period of time. When we we read that story, we we thought that all of that could be prevented if they had that key control and more security over those things. So, we really do think that something will happen when things are legalized federally, when that will happen, we’re not sure, but we really do believe that we will be the standard 100%.

Another point to look at is, aside from legislation, we believe we’re going to see larger organizations start to acquire smaller organizations within the industry. And when that happens, there will be some governance and some rules that will have to be put in place by the new owners to control their assets and control.

LW: How exactly does security play into compliance?

MW: It’s an audit trail, to know who had access to a particular area at any given time. Again, we go back to the casino world where we created a functionality called dual and triple authentication, meaning that to get into certain areas like the cage of the casino, there’s a requirement where you authenticate yourself to get the key out of the system. However, you need another person from another department or a supervisor to authenticate that it was you who put in your access information. We believe that’s going to happen in the cannabis world in terms of creating an audit trail for knowing who has accessed what areas when, and the state’s going to ultimately require that information.

LW: What sets you apart from potential competitors?

MW: If you look at Morse Watchman there’s a large, competitive landscape out there. We remain at the top for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that we listen to our end-user – we listen to the industry – to understand what their true needs are. That’s how we became number one in the casino world. And we keep going back to that because that’s what’s most affiliated with the cannabis world in its current stage. But we listened to the casino operators AND, and the states who needed to control them. We created features and functionality that they needed, whereas others didn’t. So, we think that one forte of ours is that we listen to our clients, and we will build a system based on their needs.

We’re also made in the USA. Nobody else can say that. But we’re 100% made here in Oxford, Connecticut. Our service department and tech support are by far, the best globally.

LW: Do you foresee any major changes happening in the cannabis industry this year?

MW: This year, we foresee all of these massive MSOs continuing to take over. We do see a kind of monopoly happening. However, we’ve also seen an increase in a lot of family-run cultivation ops or dispensaries. And so we think that as these MSOs continue to try to close in, we think that these smaller places are going to rise and we actually think people will be more compelled to buy from somewhere that’s local and family owned, so they can know where everything is coming from. 

we don’t think that we will see federal legalization this year, unfortunately. And we also do think that the gray market will continue. For example, here in Connecticut, we have legalized recreational cannabis, but no one is selling it yet. The licenses are beginning to be awarded. We also have medical, and that’s a strong program that’s been going for a few years. But something interesting is this gray market area that’s popping up where you don’t pay for the product, it’s a donation. And we think that’s something that is going to continue to rise as we have this disconnect between the state laws and the federal laws. And until they meet in the middle, we do think these gray area markets will continue to be popular and expand.

LW: You were recently acquired, speaking of M&A. How has that benefited your suite of services?

MW: Back in December, we were acquired by a large organization. And this is an incredibly positive thing. We now have available to us 30 manufacturing facilities around the globe. We have a sister company now based in the UK and based here in the States that makes smart locker systems. We’re working with them every day to develop systems for Morse Watchman.

LW: What advice do you have for newcomers to the industry?

MW: we say this to anybody in any industry, operational efficiency is key. In starting a business and getting into something relatively new in terms of the industry, understanding and knowing how to run a business comes first, but fully understanding the market they’re getting into is also crucial. When we say operational efficiency, we’m speaking in terms of the technology that’s available to do everything that needs to be done in a business and of course, asset management is one of those. 

LW: What else should the Leafwire readers know about Morse Watchman?

MW: we think that knowing that we have the experience –  we are the leader in what we do. We know how to control keys and assets. That’s all we do. They should know every system we build is custom made for the client. And they should know we will listen to what the industry has to say, to help us develop what the industry needs for them.

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