Legal Pot Dispensaries Are Prime Targets for Thieves

By Bryan Le 04/29/13

Legal marijuana needs guarding from criminals. But the security business isn't always willing to help.

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Marijuana's high demand means it's pretty pricey, and dispensaries need the best security on the market to deter potential theft. With pot going for about $2,000 a pound, bud burglars can easily make $20,000 just by bagging what's on the counter. Typical dispensaries will employ "dozens of security cameras," motion detectors, infrared sensors, flood lights and sometimes even ceiling tripwires to prevent a thief from sawing through the roof. At most dispensaries, those entering must pass through three doors, show ID and present a verified doctor's note. But many security companies refuse to do business with dispensaries, even in states where state law permits medical or recreational use of the drug. The nation's largest security provider, ADT Security, says it won't "sell security services to businesses engaged in the marijuana industry because it is still illegal under federal law." Kevin Griffin, proprietor of West Coast Wellness, a pot dispensary in Seattle, says ADT cut off his business without warning. “They already knew what we were. We were completely transparent," says Griffin, "It's not fair to put us in a jam and not give us any time to prepare.”

The pot industry's high-security needs create an opportunity for specialized security start ups like Colorado's Canna Security to step in. The founder, Daniel Williams, says his company has witnessed a slew of pot heists straight out of the movies, from a group of teenagers ramming an Audi through a warehouse wall, to a thief sawing a hole in a dispensary roof and then getting trapped inside, to a pair of "ninjas" who stuck up a marijuana deliveryman in broad daylight. But Williams stresses that marijuana security is "no joke" and can result in major losses for these businesses. Still, Griffin says his own business faces just as much of a threat from the feds. “They're worse than criminals,” he says, fearing a federal shut down. “They have the right to walk through the front door and take whatever they want.”

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter