Theft and vandalism are on the rise, meaning the presence of professional armed security can enhance the safety of any retail site’s products, staff, and customers. Some operations could benefit more than others, though, and the increasing number of marijuana dispensaries certainly falls into that category. Marijuana dispensary security is an essential part of operations, not only for protecting business assets, but also the peace of mind it provides to the increasing number of visitors.
Cannabis sales in the U.S. leaped a massive 46% last year to hit $17.5 billion, making it one of America’s most lucrative emerging markets, but marijuana dispensaries must be wary of such meteoric sales increases and of their operating model in general. They’re not like most businesses, and all that money they are pulling in is mostly cash, so they are a tasty target for criminals.
This guide will spotlight the particular risks dispensaries run and how professional armed security can mitigate or eliminate the marijuana market’s inherent dangers.
The Built-In Risks of Marijuana Dispensaries
Marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law. This is something individual states are working through via legislation and local regulations, but the federal status is what most banks still go by in making their policies. This presents a real problem for dispensaries seeking to open accounts and transact electronically with customers and institutions, manifesting in the following security risks:
Marijuana Dispensaries Are Predominantly Cash-Only
The inability of stores in this market sector to open a regular business account means they end up with large sums of cash to store and transport from their properties. This makes them a bigger target for criminal attack, and this video is a prime example of cameras and locks failing to deter the most determined thieves.
The Product Is Low Profile and High Demand
Transporting marijuana products is a relatively simple task for thieves due to being small and easy to hide. There is massive street demand for marijuana, which provides further incentive to pocket some.
Off-Site Operations Run Added Risk
Getting cash and product from a marijuana supplier or dispensary to a secondary storage destination means running a security gantlet. A single ounce of medical marijuana can be worth $200 to $400, and criminals know it. Cannabis dispensaries may be involved in transporting hundreds of pounds of unbanked and uninsured product, leaving them with no financial recourse if it’s lost.
Erratic Regulations Mean Shrinkage Is Common
The marijuana sector is constantly in flux as new guidelines emerge and old rules get adjusted or eliminated. This has led to a highly unregulated industry with a high shrinkage rate, as dispensaries struggle toward a definitive model. This shrinkage is the perfect cover for thieves to help themselves.
The video highlighted above shows how brazenly criminals can ransack marijuana dispensaries when they aren’t intimidated by video feeds or locked doors. This same attitude is on display when they target products in transport. Trained and armed security agents provide a “think twice” factor unmatched by any other measure and can prevent many problems inherent in this sector.
The 3 Major Benefits of Armed Dispensary Security Pros
One of the most significant benefits of professional armed security is that it’s one of the few types that doesn’t have to perform to be highly effective. Cameras must always roll, and locks must always stay tight – but the mere presence of an armed guard can be enough to prevent crime without a single shot being fired. Marijuana dispensaries can depend on the following wherever armed agents are present:
Robbery and External Theft Prevention
Dispensaries must protect themselves in any way they can until federal law changes. Trained, experienced, and armed security agents can be an essential part of that solution by meeting firepower with firepower to deter, defuse, or directly engage with any hostile force.
Increased Credibility and Legitimacy
Businesses operating in the marijuana sector face an uphill battle in terms of gaining legitimacy in the eyes of authorities and many members of the public. The increased likelihood of attracting criminal attention puts added strain on dispensaries to meet exacting security standards and ease community concerns. The presence of armed security guards bestows and projects a greater sense of professional credibility and civic responsibility.
Reduced Employee Theft
Inside jobs are one of American retail’s critical issues and the biggest security challenge for the marijuana sector. Employee theft causes a staggering 90% of financial and product loss due mainly to lax employee screening driven by lack of assistance at the federal level. Security officers function as visual reminders to employees that they are being actively monitored, thereby minimizing the appeal and likelihood of theft.
These benefits are universal wherever businesses use professional armed security. What is also sadly universal is the high price businesses pay without it. Marijuana dispensaries in Maryland and other states are no strangers to being on the receiving end of some alarming criminal incursions and must wake up to how much danger they face.
Common Pitfalls of Unarmed Security at the Local Level
Marijuana dispensaries in Maryland are in the firing line as much as their contemporaries across the nation. Accepting how real this threat is at the state and local level should help every dispensary appreciate the risks they face daily and motivate them to become proactive in their protection wiht professional marijuana dispensary security. Here are a few recent incidents:
- Robbers hit a Maryland dispensary at closing time. They made off with an undisclosed amount in cash and left staff in need of medical attention.
- A Baltimore dispensary was literally broken into when an apparent criminal attack smashed through their rear wall.
- Officers in Howard County managed to recover valuable products when a marijuana dispensary was robbed, leading to charges of burglary, theft, and destruction of property.
These are only a few examples of incidents that will only increase as states become host to more cannabis dispensaries. Proactive measures and professional armed security will play an essential role in the successful evolution of this market sector.
Contact the SMART Team With Any Questions
The seasoned professionals at SMART Security Pros can walk you through the entire armed security process and demonstrate how our trained agents can keep your site, product, and customers safe with trained, professional marijuana dispensary security. We protect dispensaries and many other businesses in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Southern Pennsylvania.
Our guards are all former law enforcement officers or military veterans, so you can rest assured that they have the training, discipline, and know-how to protect your dispensary. Contact us with any questions and speak with an expert today.