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Veterans Find Comradery Working Security in the Cannabis Industry

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Flickr @ Southern Arkansas University

Something that many of us may never stop to think about is how difficult it is to come back to a quiet suburban life after spending months, or even years, at war overseas. While there are some people who can easily adjust, no matter what situation they find themselves in, the majority of people can’t just fit right back in once they return home from a deployment. It often leads to issues with holding down jobs and things like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – there’s just no similarity between living here in the states and being over in Iraq or Afghanistan, fighting a war (something most of us, myself included, could never truly imagine).

Luckily for some 200 or so veterans in Colorado, it appears they have found a new industry that welcomed them back and had a place where their specific training and skills could be utilized – the cannabis industry. The growing industry is largely cash-only in nature due to the plant’s status as a Schedule 1 drug according to the federal government – with no banks willing to work with them these businesses are subject to trying to protect themselves from criminals, including those who wish to seize plants or finished product to sell on the black market.

Denver is one of very few cities within the state that has been collecting data on marijuana industry related crimes – and according to them there are 421 marijuana retail and growing businesses in Denver. Of those roughly 400 businesses there were 192 burglaries and thefts in 2015. So close to half of all the businesses within Denver alone were subject to criminals during 2015 – and that’s not accounting for any store or facility owners who did not report the crime in fear of raising red flags that could lead to re-inspection.

“The black market is still booming,” said Cmdr. James Henning of the Denver Police Department. Contrary to the popular narrative, marijuana is a burglar’s typical prize. “They don’t get cash,” the commander said. “That’s usually in the big old safe, and they can’t get into that. Usually, it’s plants and finished product.”

So even though thieves will go after the industry with the intention of making it out with thousands or more in cash, what they usually end up with is cannabis plants and products. However, that will still make a killing on the black market, especially in states without legal access to marijuana. This is where the Iron Protection Group comes in. Established in 2014, the group is comprised of military veterans who have found a place that feels familiar to them in protecting the cannabis industry.

While some veterans will use cannabis security as a stepping stone towards other careers in law enforcement, there is a large number who will stay in cannabis security – sometimes because they are patients themselves. The Iron Protection Group allows their employees to consume cannabis – but not more recently than 8 hours before a shift. They even get to talk to cannabis industry customers and experts to get recommendations while they work to protect the very new, very successful industry.

It’s great to see that the cannabis industry is able to give our veterans – individuals who come back home from a world so vastly different from ours – a place to feel at home again. Between the comradery of the Iron Protection Group and the sense of purpose they are given by protecting the cannabis industry from a greedy underground market refusing to die off, it seems that this could be a growing opportunity for all veterans as more states choose to legalize.

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