Armoured trucks in the cannabis industry
The revenue from the United States’ (US) cannabis industry is expected to the $50 billion mark in the next few years. The industry is already playing a pivotal role in the wellbeing of the US economy. ZipRecruiter.com has declared the cannabis industry to be the fastest-growing employer, as the industry currently employs over 160,000 people -- three times that of the coal industry.
However, prohibition on the federal level continues to impose huge bottlenecks on local businesses in states where the drug is legal. One of the worst being the exclusion of cannabis businesses from the federally regulated banking system. Without access to banking facilities, one can imagine the difficulties in managing the finances and transactions of $50 billion industry.
At any point in time, cannabis businesses need to move thousands -- sometimes even millions -- of dollars from one location to another. Such locations include vaulting facilities, state-chartered credit unions, or even local IRS offices. Armoured car manufacturers have stepped up to fulfill this need, providing heavily protected trucks for cannabis businesses to move cash around with peace of mind.
Interestingly, these armoured trucks aren’t used for carrying just cash. Cannabis businesses also need to move valuable products and inventories between different locations, and these armoured trucks lend themselves expediently to these purposes.
A brief overview of cannabis banking today
Presently, only 30% of cannabis companies can boast of having bank accounts. Most cannabis businesses are compelled to operate with hard cash, since the majority of banks close their doors to them out of fear of prosecution by the federal government for “aiding and abetting” federal crimes.
Cash-only cannabis industry. Source
US banks depend on the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), a US government independent corporations that was formed to provide insurance for deposits in commercial banks. That government tie also presents a problem for banks considering any support for cannabis businesses.
The exclusion of cannabis businesses has been condemned by voices across various quarters, and many businesses have sprung up to address this challenge. Some armoured truck companies now offer assistance beyond just transportation.
Mariko Augustis, head of banking and cash compliance for Hardcar, a leading armoured truck manufacturer, said Hardcar is stepping in to facilitate relationships between banks and cannabis businesses. He points out that credit unions, being member-based, “are more willing to take on cannabis-related accounts.”
But credit unions still need to comply with the reporting requirements of the Financial Crimes Enforcement network (FinCEN), just as much as FDIC-insured banks do. And in order for these banks and/or credit users to avoid sanctions and prosecutions, the cannabis businesses they deal with must also remain compliant.
However, compliance on the part of cannabis businesses requires subjection to humongous paperwork and gargantuan fees. Only larger cannabis businesses can pool together the resources needed to meet such requirements.
All about the armoured trucks deployed by cannabis businesses
While Hardcar offers a long list of security services that include cybersecurity services, surveillance robots, threat detection systems, etc., its primary source of revenue has been cash-in-transit (CIT) services. Currently, Hardcar is the largest armoured car company servicing the cannabis industry in California, having signed a pact to deliver CIT services to California’s thirty largest cannabis-related companies.
Armoured cars used by Hardcar and other companies are studded with specs that are nearly akin to those of armored cars used by banks. According to Hardcar COO Jeff Breier, “The glass alone is worth more than a motor and transmission.”
Hardcar armoured cars come with GPS trackers, kill switches that shut down the engine remotely, blast-proof doors, and an alert system that notifies the police and Hardcar in case of an emergency. One of the most amazing specs is a digital cashbox, designed to open only when the vehicle reaches its destination.
However, with all the stunning specs that resembles gadgets from Hollywood crime thrillers and sci-fi movies, these armoured vehicles sport looks that are merely plain and passable. This generic look makes for another layer of security, removing attention from these armoured trucks and especially from what’s being transported inside.
An armored can. Source
Final words -- are armoured cars worth the rave?
There are many cannabis businesses that believe using armoured vehicles is going a bit overboard. INKAS COO, Drew Milburn, points out that these trucks are usually not laden with cash and inventories worth monumental figures, and that these valuables are mostly stored in highly secured warehouses. As such, there’s almost no need to splash huge amounts of money to secure transit trucks from thefts.
But in reality, these businesses need a mode of secure transport for their cash and merchandise, given their cash-based nature and the near ban from banking institutions. These armored van services thus provide a great alternative to traditional banking armored trucks. Whatever measures taken by these companies to secure that cannabis cash -- which amounts to a billion dollar industry -- can hardly be referred to as unnecessary.