COLORADO: The unmarked armored truck rumbles to a stop in a narrow alley, and former U.S. Marine Matthew Karr slides out, one hand holding a folder, the other hovering near the pistol holstered at his hip.
With efficient motions he retrieves a locked, leather-bound satchel from a safe set into the truck’s side and presses a buzzer outside the door. It swings open to reveal a cavernous warehouse filled with marijuana and a safe stuffed with cash.
Welcome to the rear guard of Colorado’s rapidly expanding legal marijuana industry, where eager users pour millions of dollars — most of it in small bills — into buying pot, hashish, and marijuana-infused foods and drinks. All that cash adds up, and there are few places to put it: Federal regulations, which still classify pot as an illegal drug, make it difficult for marijuana producers to deposit their profits into traditional bank accounts.
And those cash-heavy small businesses make awfully attractive — and vulnerable — targets for criminals.