Fifteen states have legalized the medical use of cannabis, and dispensaries have popped up across the nation. For both legal and practical reasons, this is not a business sector that easily lends itself to franchising. According to Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards, “We haven’t found that there’s one person opening up 20 or 25 of these,” with deep pockets and a cookie-cutter design that allows them to save by bulk purchasing bullet resistant panels. “Every job is still a little bit different, and we try to accommodate everybody’s individual needs.”
Principal among these needs is affordability. Dispensaries are generally opened by altruistic entrepreneurs. Their experience is in horticulture and pain management, their budget tight, and their security needs unique: They handle lots of cash and warehouse medical-grade marijuana with a high street value.
Affordable Bullet Proof Systems
Securing a 16 or 20 foot opening in a strip mall can easily run to $6000, $8000, or $10,000. Jim quickly found that few dispensary operators had anywhere near this security budget. “They would call with a lot of big ideas, thinking that since you can go to Home Depot and buy a door for a $120, what’s the big deal in making it bullet resistant? Early on we were trying to bid people on what they were asking for, but we quickly realized that they couldn’t afford what they’d really like. But what they can afford really works for them.”
Total Security Solutions began to advise customers on how to build a cost-conscious bullet proof system: Start by framing out the area with stud walls backed with standard bullet resistant fiberglass panels. Install a bullet resistant door with a view scope or view window and leave a three-by-four or four-by-four opening for a pre-fabricated transaction window. “With this kind of system, we can supply them units that they can set right in place. Add half a dozen screws around the perimeter, and you’re off and running.”
Securing other Health Care Businesses
Total Security Solutions has seen a similar situation arise with independent family-run pharmacies. Over the last decade, prescription drug abuse has outstripped the use of street drugs like marijuana, and the tightly controlled supply chain for prescription drugs keeps their resale value high. For example, according to law enforcement agencies, OxyContin consistently sells throughout the US for $25 to $50 per dose; a pocket-full of pills can earn thousands of dollars on the corner.
Some street gangs in large urban centers on the east coast have begun running raids on rural pharmacies, even though the cash is almost invariably sealed inside a time-locked safe that workers cannot access. Jim has found that, “A lot of times, in a pharmacy, they aren’t even interested in the money; they’re there to get the drugs.”
In the past, small-town apothecaries had no need for bullet proof panels, but an increasing number are deciding to retrofit.