There was a time in the United States when possession of just a small amount of marijuana residue could send you to jail. Now days, the laws in most states are laxer and in 29 states and the District of Columbia medical marijuana is legal. In some states like Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, and others recreational use of marijuana is now legal and many of these states have private businesses (“marijuana shops”) that sell weed over the counter. Because of the high value of the product and because most of these shops operate on a cash basis, marijuana dispensaries and non-medical marijuana “pot shops” pose unique security challenges.
This new industry has created a whole new security industry specializing in security for marijuana medical or recreational dispensaries, and growers & producers. State and federal laws and rules prescribe levels of security for marijuana growers and dispensaries. Security professionals schooled in the unique needs of the legalized marijuana industry can help these new businesses navigate the complex web of regulations and make the business as secure as possible.
Marijuana security specialists help growers and dispensaries with security products like custom vaults that meet DEA requirements, access controls, alarms, security cameras, facial recognition video systems, security fog, remote premise viewing, and can tie all of these products into a real “system” including electronic or physical security incident response. As a result of government oversight and marijuana business owners wanting to enhance their ‘bottom-line’ by making their business as secure as possible, marijuana businesses are some of the most security conscious businesses around.
Marijuana Security Came to Me
30+ years ago when I was a police officer patrolling the streets of Portland, Oregon I never imagined myself working in the marijuana industry – not even in a tangential way. I have never used the product and the most intoxicating thing I consume now days is a BBQ rib with some extra spicy sauce on it! But, in my private investigations & security consulting business the marijuana industry just “came to me.”
In my private investigations business, I do a lot of work for attorneys. My name and work got around and I started getting calls from attorneys who specialize in assisting people getting licensed to work in the marijuana industry.
Here in Oregon there are five types of recreational marijuana licenses: Producer, Processor, Wholesaler, Retail, Laboratory, and a Certificate for Research. All persons who perform work on behalf of a licensed producer, processor, wholesaler, or retailer must possess a marijuana worker permit. As part of the application process each applicant for a license is subject to a criminal background check. The State of Oregon website says that each application will be considered on a case by case basis but cautions applicants that “it is important to provide as much information as possible so as not to appear as if you are withholding or providing false information.”
Most of the work I have done on behalf of marijuana industry applicants is conducting comprehensive background checks to see exactly what shows up on an applicant’s record. Often an applicant simply cannot remember what he/she has been arrested for or convicted of, or if some of their record has been officially expunged or not. And, the applicant needs to know what other kind of information might be easily accessible by state authorities. These applicants can’t take their chances with one of the many online “Instant” background check websites that often provide limited or inaccurate information. They need something better.
Aside from conducting comprehensive background checks for prospective marijuana workers, I have also conducted some security risk assessments for growers and made physical security recommendations to make their property and operation more safe and secure.
The new legalized marijuana industry is one of the most regulated businesses in the United States. State laws and administrative rules mandate a surfeit of security for marijuana businesses. While there have been some well publicized incidences of robberies of marijuana businesses, the industry is generally very security conscious and most owners have taken active steps to make their businesses as safe and secure as possible. This commitment to enhanced security provides new opportunities for security professionals who are knowledgeable in the specific needs of the marijuana industry.