The wave of cannabis legislation shifts across the United States has brought legal, adult-use cannabis to an abundance of states, and in turn, a handful of new job opportunities, not only for the grow and retail operations, but namely for security and protection of business assets.
Just in the last week, recreational cannabis became legal in Connecticut, Virginia and New Mexico, and the recent boom has many cannabis businesses, on the East Coast especially, seeing a need for armed guards, and oftentimes, this opens doors for veterans with previous firearm training.
Paul Ballenger, the CEO of Invicta Solutions, is a veteran and army reservist with about 400 armed security guards working in five states, including California, Colorado and Arizona. The guards work to protect schools, religious institutions and malls, though Invicta is now providing armed guards for cannabis companies, following their acquisition of the security guard business last year from Helix Technologies of Denver.
It’s especially pertinent, as current banking laws often see these businesses taking in a hefty influx of cash, which leaves them more susceptible to robbery. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer explained he and his associates plan to introduce a bill to end the prohibition of cannabis, though he said, “We’re not going to bargain against ourselves,” in regard to bank reforms.
The House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in April, and if passed by the Senate, it would free restrictions for banks financing cannabis companies. Schumer argued that passing this more modest legislation could risk the advancement of comprehensive reform.
The idea is that Republicans and moderate Democrats who might consider bolder policy changes may be less likely to vote for Schumer’s legalization bill.
Adult-use cannabis has been legalized in 18 states, Washington DC and Guam, and while the retail markets for recreational cannabis are still in the process of launching in these states, companies are already looking at expansion opportunities, including security guard companies that are already serving Western states.
Ballenger told Forbes he supports legalization, though he doesn’t use cannabis, and he is 100 percent committed to expanding to the East Coast. He said that his goal is to have Invicta in the key markets of New York, New Jersey and Florida by the end of the year. The boom creates opportunities especially for veterans with firearm training, and Ballenger estimated that at least half of his guards are veterans.
With the influx of robberies among highly trafficked dispensaries, some dispensary employees are choosing to arm themselves, though increasingly many in cannabis storefront management are outsourcing to professionals for security help. Often, armed guards provide a more visible security presence which not only helps ensure the safety of customers and employees, but also acts as a deterrent to potential robbers.
Even if the SAFE Banking Act is passed by the Senate, and cannabis businesses are less reliant on cash, the need for these services will likely persist, as cannabis itself is considered a valuable asset.