How To Secure Cannabis Facilities with Electronic Door Control and Locking Solutions

Oct. 2, 2020

Cannabis business operations face a unique set of challenges that are public-facing and anchored in strict government and banking compliance mandates. The common denominator with these challenges is the necessity for tight physical security to better protect people, property and assets, with two predominant areas of interest focusing on entry or egress points, and back areas where cash is handled.

Given all of the sophisticated security solutions available today, the most pervasive and effective physical-security solution for cannabis businesses is to keep facilities, products and cash locked down. Door control technology continues to be a proven first line of defense to help prevent incidents from occurring, effectively keeping customers and employees safe.

People typically think of doors as a means of keeping someone out or, alternately, keeping someone in. Doors provide privacy and, when locked, a level of security that’s simple and effective. Perhaps you never thought about it at length, but there are many ways that doors can be opened or closed. They can be operated manually by a handle or push bar, revolved, swung or even slid into a pocket in the wall, and they can be operated automatically through the push of a button or the swipe of a card or proximity device. They can be programmed to lock if another door is open or unsecure. All of these solutions are appropriate for specific applications in today’s cannabis facilities.

Controlling Physical Access

Perhaps the most essential aspect of cannabis business operations is also the most precarious — customer interaction and access to retail areas. This earmarks entry and egress control as a priority when implementing physical security measures.  Fortunately, more door technology is on the market today than ever before, including advanced programmable door interlock systems (often called mantraps), which provide high levels of security. Door interlock systems provide cannabis facilities with a unique form of protection for customers and employees that isn’t provided by conventional access control systems.

Interlock systems have different names based on their functionality and are commonly referred to as one of the following:

  • Interlocks
  • Mantraps
  • Sally ports (for vehicles)
  • Secured vestibules
  • Air locks

In its simplest form, a door interlock system commonly referred to as a “mantrap” is composed of two doors electronically connected so one can’t open until the other has closed. For cannabis facilities, an interlock door system provides unrestricted access to an interior vestibule, where customers or employees can be screened automatically or by a security guard before entering the facility. Access to the interior of an operation is allowed only when the exterior door is closed, preventing tailgating of unauthorized individuals.

For retail locations, a secure vestibule might be employed. When an individual in the interlocked area is approved, the outer door remains locked, and the individual is allowed to proceed through the inner door. Conversely, if an individual is deemed suspicious, an alert can be sounded. The inner door will remain locked, and the outer door will unlock, allowing the potential threat to exit the building. This effectively prevents potential problems from escalating inside your facility.

For employee entrances, a secure-entry vestibule configuration provides a fast method of entry and egress through a combination of locked and unlocked doors. Exterior doors normally are secured and interior doors normally are unlocked. An electronic access system controls entry from the outside, and a request-to-exit (REX) device is used on the interior of exit doors. Unlocking the entry door will lock the interior door of the secure entry vestibule. After the exterior door is resecured, the interior door is unlocked to allow access to the facility.

The highest level of security is provided with a restricted entry and exit system, whereby a door is unlocked by a request for access only if no other related doors are unsecured. Opening any one door keeps all other related doors locked. Restricted entry and exit systems will buffer simultaneous requests for access to prevent two or more doors from being unlocked at the same time. This door interlock system configuration is most appropriate for back areas of cannabis facilities where inventory is stored and cash areas are located.

For cannabis distribution facilities, sally ports can be deployed to control vehicular entry or egress using any combination of overhead doors, gates or bollards.

Door interlocks that have different modes of functionality also are available. Cannabis facilities that have a high amount of pedestrian traffic in the morning and late afternoon might want two doors operating during these times, with the capability to switch to a single door during midday or evening hours. Intercom systems can be added to door interlock systems to allow communications between the individuals inside the “mantrap” and a facility greeter or security guard controlling the system.

For employee access to highly secure areas within cannabis facilities, advanced interlock systems can include biometrics that read faces, eyes or fingerprints to provide highly accurate identity authentication and verification, which adds a much higher level of sophistication and security. This prevents lost, stolen or replicated physical access control credentials or even simple key locks from being compromised by unauthorized personnel.

Although security is the core priority, a door interlock system deployed at cannabis facilities also must be easy to use and safe, or it can become a logjam for customer traffic as well as a potential source of liability. During an emergency, the door interlock system must enable people to evacuate the facility. For example, if the power were to fail, an emergency override would ensure that the door can be opened manually.

Moreover, safety codes might require that the door interlock systems be integrated with the facility’s fire-alarm control panel to allow for emergency door release. A local emergency pull station also might be required to allow doors to be unlocked in nonfire-alarm emergencies or to interface the system with NFPA 101 delayed-egress controls. In every case, local compliance mandates must be adhered to carefully when designing a door interlock system for a facility. Working with a reputable manufacturer and system installer ensures you’ll receive the ease of operation and specific door interlock capabilities and compliance you want, along with high-quality customer support and service.

Door control solutions, such as interlock systems, are highly cost-effective while delivering an effective means of securing your facility. Dortronics is a leading supplier of door control solutions and electronic locking solutions ideal for cannabis facilities. Its experienced door control experts can assist with your specific requirements through products that are made in the USA. Dortronics looks forward to hearing from you.

Bryan Sanderford is the National Sales Manager at Dortronics. Please visit for more information.