Securing the stash: Medical marijuana industry using specialized security services
Every business works to secure its assets, and those in the marijuana industry are no different.
The difference between Oklahoma’s cash-heavy medical marijuana industry and many others is the need to secure cash and other assets using armed security guards and specialized transportation equipment. This need is opening opportunities for Oklahoma entrepreneurs.
Duncan-based Stronghold Protection Group and Oklahoma City-based Hendrickson Investigation & Protection LLC are two companies profiting from the marijuana industry from a security standpoint.
“We do secure transport of cash and product as well as security and armed guard service,” Stronghold co-owner Clint Gann said.
Gann and business partner Brendon Davis co-founded the company to serve marijuana industry clients. Gann’s background is in trucking and transportation logistics, while Davis is a veteran and has experience in the security business.
“We had the idea when 788 first started coming around and we started getting that feeling that 788 was going to pass,” Gann said. “I started researching the transport side of things and how it works and realized pretty quickly it could be dangerous.”
Gann worked with Davis to work on the security aspect and a company was born.
Hendrickson Investigation & Protection owner Grady Hendrickson saw similar opportunities for his skill set.
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Hendrickson performs private investigation work and has been around the security business. He paid close attention to the development of the marijuana industry, specifically compliance regulations from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Oklahoma State Health Department.
“I read all these laws and statutes so I might as well use it to my advantage,” Hendrickson said. “I make sure (marijuana businesses) are in compliance with OBN and the Health Department so they don’t get hit with a $5,000 to $10,000 fine.”
Hendrickson also works to provide security options and transportation for those in the industry. Several transportation requirements for medical marijuana were included in House Bill 2612, commonly referred to as the Unity Bill, which was recently signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Transportation vehicles will need to be equipped with GPS trackers and locked compartments that are sealed from driver access during use and more.
“We were a little forward-looking and purchased transit vans and already had the driver’s section walled off so it’s not accessible by the driver,” Gann said. “We have GPS trackers in all the vehicles. All these things are coming into play now.”
Prices for the services provided by companies like these vary. Hendrickson offers compliance consulting for $500, but he waives that fee if a company uses him for security purposes. Gann says one security officer usually costs between $1,000 and $2,500 weekly, depending on where the business is and how long it is open.
“We definitely aren’t the cheapest guy in town,” Gann said. “But my argument is always, 'Do you want a $9 an hour guy with a gun watching you count thousands of dollars a day?' The answer is no.”
The point of the business is ultimately customer service and safety.
“It revolves as much around customer service as well as armed security service,” Gann said. “We are not in Iraq kicking down doors, we are offering a service. Folks like to feel comfortable when they are in shopping.”