SMALL BUSINESS

Medical Marijuana Shops Bring Business To Security Firms

04/30/2013 03:27 pm ET

Medical marijuana dispensaries have attracted two predictable byproducts of the valuable buds sold in an increasing number of stores: thieves and security systems.

"There is a lot of smash and grab," Dan Williams, founder of Canna Security America, told CNN Money about pot-shop crime. Williams' Denver-based company specializes in providing security systems, including cameras and panic buttons, for medical marijuana stores.

It's not just the merchandise that's luring criminals. Pot shops tend to have bundles of cash on the premises, as unsympathetic federal laws have forced many stores to operate in hard currency, say security experts interviewed by CNN.

Small security companies, like Canna, have an opportunity to make money from the growing industry, as more established firms like ADT have pulled their services from some medical marijuana shops.

Contacted by The Huffington Post, an ADT spokeswoman said in a statement that the company does not work with businesses selling pot. “ADT has made a policy decision not to sell security services to businesses engaged in the marijuana industry because it is still illegal under federal law," the statement said.

Across the country, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow the production and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Two states, Colorado and Washington, also have approved it for recreational use.

An estimated 2,000 to 4,000 businesses now produce pot legally under state laws, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. And it's big business: Total sales added up to well over $1 billion last year.

But even as the legal business has grown, there is still a healthy black market for marijuana, which sells for around $2,000 a pound wholesale, CNN reported.

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