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Preventing Employee Theft in Your Dispensary

Could employee theft be explaining some of the gaps you’re seeing in your inventory

It’s a harsh reality of owning a retail operation that most entrepreneurs will have to face at one time in their careers: employee theft.

As any business owner knows, building a team based on trust is not always easy but an essential component to a successful business.

While everyone likes to trust those who work for them, in reality, risk and loss prevention experts estimate that retail stores lose up to a collective $60 billion a year in merchandise due to employee theft. It would be naïve to think that a dispensary would be exempt from these statistics. In fact, up to 90% of losses reported by dispensaries are due to employee theft – 90%!

Could employee theft be explaining some of the gaps you’re seeing in your inventory, cash or employee sales? Here are some tips we can offer to prevent employee theft in your dispensary:


Do your due diligence

One of the first steps in preventing employee theft in your dispensary is to make sure you’re hiring the right people. As a retail operation that is dealing with thousands of dollars of merchandise and cash, you need to be able to have peace of mind that your product is in good hands. Take the time to do your due diligence when hiring budtenders.

Go through a thorough interview process, and don’t skip out on reference checks as well as criminal background checks. These HR processes can be costly and take a bit of time to complete but may end up saving you thousands in the long run. There are even a number of third party firms that can help you with this. Being thorough isn’t about being paranoid, it’s about ensuring you are taking every reasonable step to protect your business.



Set staff expectations

Expectations for your dispensary employees should be set right at the point of hire, laid on thick in training, and reinforced on the regular. Most employee theft that happens in dispensaries is not a result of staff grabbing handfuls of unaccounted-for bud and stuffing it in their pockets. Rather, a little extra sold here, a little discount given there, or a little pinch off the top of the inventory adds up.

Set clear guidelines in your employee handbook, and be clear about the consequences of breaking guidelines. What is your policy? 3-strikes you’re out? Zero tolerance? Whatever it is, be clear, proactive and consistent in its enforcement.


Limit discounts

All budtenders would likely agree that they love being able to give discounts, but how much are these discounts actually costing you? Over time, employees could become overly liberal on the discounts they’re giving and to whom, and this can seriously cost you.

Consider setting a limit on discounts, maybe 10% being a reasonable place to start, and set a policy that any discounts over that amount will require managerial approval.


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