Cannabis Cash - How do you secure your place in the weed business?

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Cannabis Cash

How do you secure your place in the weed business?

Where is all the money in the marijuana business going? Who is moving the cash or product as it seems to be in the news all the time? Here we share why it’s important to your business that you know how this is all happening.

Over the last two years, Hardcar Security has grown to more than 20 clients and numerous awards for providing armored truck services to the cannabis market place in California. Why California and cannabis? California alone is slotted at becoming the United States’ largest market by far, at a projected $3 billion within the next five years. Other areas in the United States, such as Colorado, may have been open earlier but no market will come close to the size of California. So whether you are an A/C company, security installation firm, plumber or electrician, you are going to want to know more about this space.

Armoring the Weed

Why armored? “Bad things happen at bad times from bad people,” is a quote from an admiral in Malaysia named Admiral Aziz. It has been around even until today and describes the need for armor perfectly. We chose this armored product because the product can be insured and our employees, who are mostly veterans of all U.S. military branches, won’t come home full of bullets. Hardcar has lobbied and tried with the state a number of times and will continue to push for armored in our space.

Currently, under the existing laws, only the product needs to be locked in a box in the back of a vehicle. This minimum state regulation keeps product safe but not the people carrying or delivering it. Companies use trucks that are able to conceal the fact they are armored. From SUVs to vans, most people would have no idea that the truck next to them was carrying millions in cannabis products or cash.

One lesson learned is that protocol and procedure tops all else when dealing with the California Highway Patrol. The CHP has done a fantastic job in recognizing how quickly this market is evolving and has been quick to train officers know the need for up-to-date documentation while the product is in transit.

For instance, say you are transporting product in the state of California and your travel documentation is not updated with recent product changes. How would a CHP officer know that the product you have is not stolen or produced illegally? What if your company had a truck stolen? How would you lock it down and make sure your product and or cash are safe?

Drivers have been pulled over a number of times and allowed to continue on down the road because all material and paperwork is up to date within seconds of our trucks leaving locations. Remote management software and solid road management and inventory systems enable that to happen seamlessly. Instant on or always on video systems enable us to monitor our agents and or interaction with others like CHP.

Planning for the Worst and Expecting the Best

Numerous electronic measures now exist for auto-interrupt and or climate control remotely on rigs running in this space. One thing to consider adding is climate control alerts so that you’re always aware of the product temperature where your cargo is riding. More important may be a battery backup cord, should your truck run out of power and your cargo is getting hot in the middle of the desert. That becomes critical until your next rescue vehicle comes to swap out things.

Securing the location should you have to pull off the road becomes a bit trickier. Hardcar rigs are up fitted with a number of technological advances to thwart thieves from trying to steal vehicles. More importantly, GPS alone will not solve all of the issues. This part of the business is expensive and can run in the thousands of dollars, so do your research. When people think of armored trucks they would never think FedEx has them, but they do.

FedEx Custom Critical runs a unique and profitable section of the business with medical deliveries and other time-sensitive or temperature-sensitive products all over the United States. The delivery of products is changing and so are the laws on how it is delivered. Whatever you do, surround yourself with professionals who understand how to keep procedures in place and compliance at the front of everything they do. Then hire a great legal team to make sure you have all of the licenses and applications in place to step onto this wild carpet ride in your magic bus.

A plan of action might be something you would really need if you are considering entering into this space. Say you have a transportation company now, how would you do that? Seek out professionals in this space and see how you might work together. There are a few and make sure they have every license that a regular armored carrier has. A delivery firm may not even be able to get insurance because they can’t protect large amounts of cannabis product from loss. Think about the risks you are taking way in advance of doing anything.

A comprehensive plan of action with steps outlined would help, including:

  • Route planning to avoid large areas without escape routes.
  • Scheduled maintenance done in advance to not take the truck out of the rotation.
  • Daily inspection of the vehicles to ensure all technology is in working order.
  • Route mapping software and delivery information systems like roadnet.com, Geotab and others.
  • Create a technology plan to understand your customer need. Ask questions to the customer—do they need refrigeration? Do they need RFID tracking? Will the upcoming 2018 track and trace protocols be an issue to your existing infrastructure?
  • Supply Chain best practices to include documentation of all anomalies.
  • Safety and Security Training to ensure risks of high value deliveries are minimized.

Overall, even with the best solid standard operating procedures you still will have things pop up in the cannabis business that you might not expect in other businesses, such as the occasional request to move product to another state. (Federal HUGE NO) Or, the Russian mobster who meets you at 2 a.m., outside of a shady building and says “We will do big business together.” This is still the Wild West, and yes, the pioneers did do well, but a lot of those guys had arrows in their backs and never came home. Our space like no other has challenges that can be helped by security professionals.

So, if you have a consulting business in security, a plumbing or A/C group, electricians that know green houses or an alarm company now is the time to start looking at this space and working on getting into customers. Now is the time to expand your business and grow like a weed, so reach out to us and let us know how we can help. The market is huge and your company should be getting a piece of this cookie. (All puns intended.)

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Security Today.

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