Marijuana: High and Safe?

Predator: Ty S., Colorado Dept. of Corrections

Discussion: Thinking of a marijuana buzz for recreational or medical reasons in 2016? Store re-ups are now legal in a growing number of states but can still be risky business.

Threats for these businesses are numerous – they are cash-only businesses, cartels don’t like them, and they have a product worth stealing.

Ty, a convicted pot shop robber in the Colorado Department of Corrections, offers pointers to stay out of harm’s way when seeking a legal high.

“You gotta keep your eyes open, you know? Most people are so clueless, even the people who work at weed shops. I tell you I’m more worried about other gangs, the cartel, you know.

Or the guy outside the shop who’s gonna mug me on my way out.

I walk into this one weed store. It didn’t have no bulletproof glass or souped-up surveillance cameras and alarms like some places do now, and only this old guy asleep in a chair playing guard. Now I got a heavy hoodie on. It’s summer time. Right there someone shoulda been asking questions.

“Maybe I was a little figgety in line, playing with my Glock in my pocket. But nobody looked twice at me. They was too interested on their buy. I was behind this lagger in line. I couldn’t take it no more. So I walked up the front, pulled out my Glock and pushed it right in the clerk’s face. I told everyone else, ‘Nobody moves.’

“The guard woke up, and I motioned for him to join the party. I told the clerk to give me everything he had. I got a nice haul of weed and cash. I got the little sucker’s tip money, too. Scooped it right out of the jar on the counter on my way out. That’s when the clerk starts hollering. So I turned around and blasted a few at him. I missed him, but hit some guy who was walking by on the street. Can you believe it.”

Wrong place, wrong time, and you’re done.

Take the hapless dispensary owner in Newport Beach, CA. A trio of robbers broke into his home, zip-tied him, dragged him into a van, burned him with a blow-torch, doused him in bleach and severed his penis to torture information about his hidden marijuana stash.

23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use in one way or another. An additional 16 states have legalized oils that are a component of marijuana. Four states have legalized marijuana like alcohol as well as the District of Columbia.

These pot businesses can’t deposit their money in banks because of federal banking laws. Marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 narcotic, financial institutions are subject to prosecution on money laundering charges for accepting clients that deal in marijuana, legal or not.

Ruthless Robbers

The haul is significantly better than the neighborhood convenience store. A shop can average 1,000 transactions a day. We’re talking six-figure cash transports and seven-figure inventories. So that’s $100,000 or more in cash sitting in the shop at any given moment and no safe place to put the money.

It’s not just legal pot stores, but also medical marijuana dispensaries that are great targets, according to Ty. At the dispensaries, he goes for the high-grade medical pot. And of course, the cash.

As the legalized pot industry has matured in Colorado, robberies have become less frequent, but often are more violent. Druggies, common thieves and gangs are all attracted by the sweet smell legal pot success. Los Angeles Police Detectives say the majority of robberies of medical marijuana dispensaries in that state are related to organized crime or gang activity.

Target Hardening

Enhanced physical protection, surveillance, alarms and guards is helping. Law enforcement is working with businesses, which often hire private security consultants. Workers as well as patrons of stores and dispensaries can also take precautions. This is one of those potentially really nasty workplace violence scenarios.

Always be alert. Look for anyone acting suspicious. Let a clerk or guard know if you suspect something. If violence occurs, learn the steps to protect yourself. Remember, concrete stops bullets. Wood or plasterboard doesn’t. Review Predator’s Active Shooter Defense.

So if you’re looking to join the Mile High Club in Colorado (no, not that one), stay one toke ahead of Ty and the rest of the bad guys.

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