Running a Business / Cannabis

Special Ops Guard a Budding Business

More and more marijuana companies are turning to former members of America's elite fighting forces to keep their product, and their cash, safe.
Special Ops Guard a Budding Business
Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialists 2nd Class Scott Fenaroli
Entrepreneur Staff
Editorial Director
3 min read

The following feature is excerpted from TIME Marijuana: The Medical Movement available at retailers and on Amazon

When you are involved in an industry that is exploding with product and profits, important details can get lost in the shuffle.

Details like security.

“Some of these cannabis growers will stick a million in cash in a gym bag, throw it on the passenger seat and drive it down to Salem with a joint in their mouth,” says Garrick Fernbaugh, co-founder of the elite tactical-training and security-service company Red Frog in Oregon. “That’s maybe not the best way to go about that, and that’s where we come in.”

Fernbaugh, a Navy SEAL for 20 years and a former government contractor, is part of a growing trend of former Special Operators who are applying their expertise to the cannabis industry.

Related: Use This Secret Military Trick to Tell if Someone Is Lying

And not necessarily in the gun-blazing manner one might think. “In Special Operations, ninety percent of the job involves analyzing situations and mitigating risk as much as possible,” explains a former Green Beret from California-based security firm Ridgeline OST who requested to be referred to only as Matthew.

Those risks come primarily in two forms: robbery, and businesses failing to keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations. Operators have ample experience with these two threats, thanks to their work in politically unstable nations.

Billy Tosheff, CEO of Oregon-based Wildcat, which facilitates collaboration between growers and retailers and helps businesses scale, says Special Operators fill a hole. “People who come from a business background are thinking more about financial objectives, so to have people who are focused on potential threats is invaluable,” he says.

Former SEAL Fernbaugh explains that the habits he built up while providing security for the likes of the president of Afghanistan stay with him even while driving to the mall. “When I’m driving, it’s probably a 70/30 ratio of looking ahead and in the rearview mirror,” he says. And this training is coming in handy in the weed world. “There are only two banks in Oregon that are accepting this cannabis cash, so you can imagine the potential for an ambush.”

Is it overkill to employ the skills of the most elite fighting forces in the world? Not when you consider that some marijuana farms harvest one big crop a year, which means that at that moment, they’re sitting on millions of dollars worth of product.

Related: The Green Beret Hotel Check-In Safety List

As the industry has grown, business owners are taking security and compliance more seriously, but Matthew from Ridgeline OST says companies are still going through a learning curve. “My first week full-time in California, I find myself at a shareholders’ meeting sitting across from three Russian guys that looked like they stepped out of a gangster movie: tracksuit, fanny pack, the whole deal. So that was a good discussion with the crew after the meeting. We need to know who the shareholders and investors are. You can have some organized-crime syndicates putting money into your operation, but that’s not good for security—or for when the state legislators look into your finances.”

 

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
Learn More

Latest on Green Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any article to save to your queue.

Podcasts episodes coming soon for GreenEntrepreneur.com

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any podcast episode on Entrepreneur.com to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). The table below describes in more detail the data being collected. By giving your consent below, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Cookie Policy.

Name Category
Google Ad Serving, Ad Targeting, Analytics/Measurement, Optimisation
Rubicon Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
Nativo Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
New Relic Analytics/Measurement
Log Entries Analytics/Measurement
Sailthru Content Customization