Pots Of Marijuana Cash Cause Security Concerns

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.

 

Burglaries At Denver Marijuana Shops Slow, But Industry Still Worried

COLORADO:  Even with the start of legal recreational marijuana sales 5½ months ago, burglaries and robberies at all pot businesses in Denver are on pace for their lowest total in three years, according to figures from the city’s Department of Safety.

Through the end of May, there had been 53 burglaries and one robbery at the city’s more than 700 licensed marijuana stores and cultivation facilities — putting the city on pace for about 130 burglaries and robberies by year’s end. In 2013, there were 147 burglaries and four robberies, according to Safety Department data, and in 2012, there were 170 burglaries and three robberies.

The dip comes despite police and industry fears that marijuana businesses — many of which keep large amounts of cash on hand because they don’t have access to banking services — remain alluring targets for crime.

“This situation could be a lot worse,” said Michael Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. “But it’s still a lot of burglaries, whether it’s more or less than it was last year.”