Many states are now lucky enough to have legal recreational and medical cannabis programs, and those states are reaping all the benefits of being able to go to the dispensary and simply buy some pot for a medical condition, or even just for fun. Of, course, we realize that this crop has to be grown somewhere, and then maintained and sold. But we don’t always think about the fact that it is precious cargo that is still expensive, sought-after, and federally illegal, and as such, it needs to be guarded.
In fact, this was one of the things that gave marijuana a bad name back in the day, when there was no legalization. Because so many people wanted to get their hands on ganja, it was necessary to protect it with guns and people who were ready to defend it, leading the public to equate it with gang violence and more serious criminal activity. Well, even in places where it is legal and all those worries are behind us, the fact still remains that armed people are needed to protect the product.
This is exactly where cannabis security officers come in. That’s right, there are special groups of people who get hired just to keep marijuana safe while it travels from the grow location to the dispensary, or while it is being cultivated or sold. Ironically, these people are often x-law enforcement, now using their special training to keep pot safe instead of persecute it.
One of these security organizations is Blue Line Protection Group, based out of Colorado, and run by Michael Jerome, who used to be the sheriff of Jefferson County, CO. The company has grown a lot since its inception in December 2013, and offers services from protecting cannabis while it is being transported to hiring out security guards to dispensaries.
"In this industry, there's an inherent distrust on the part of business owners toward authority figures," Jerome stated in an interview with Rolling Stone. "We're primarily former military and law enforcement, so we already have this built-in connection to be a go-between."
You might expect that the lives of these security guards in such a new industry are incredibly exciting, full of fighting off robbery attempts and thwarting potential criminals in order to keep things running smoothly. But actually, it turns out that in most cases, these guards are simply there for show. You’d have to be pretty brazen to try and take on an armed guard with military or police training, so usually having someone sitting there and looking authoritative is enough. Mostly their days are spent checking IDs, discouraging underage shoppers from being allowed entry, and undercover police posing as underage people from having a successful bust.
"When the police do come to visit, there is definitely camaraderie with the guards," Sally Vander Veer, who runs Medicine Man dispensary in Denver, told Rolling Stone. "It really lends credibility to us."
It has now been more than a year since the first two states to allow legalization, Washington and Colorado, opened up the floodgates, and in all this time, there haven’t been any major criminal acts or other negative fallout.
"It just appears to me right now that things are fairly smooth," stated Ricky Bennett, who used to be a police chief in Aurora and now does training for Blue Line, in an interview with Rolling Stone.
"When there is a homicide related to marijuana, it's taking place in the black market," added Michael Elliott, who currently serves as the executive director of Colorado's Marijuana Industry Group. "But when you look at licensed marijuana businesses, these are very safe and secure facilities."
Overall, it seems like just having this security presence in Colorado has so far been enough to dissuade most criminal activity. While some may see these security officers as an intimidating presence, they are here to help and make things better for the industry, and it is a lot better than being persecuted by people in a position of power!