If you spot a nondescript-looking Ford Transit cargo van in one of the 33 US states (and Washington, DC) where marijuana has been legalized in a single form or another, there’s a chance it’s wearing weed, cash, or each.
Since pot continues to be unlawful below federal regulation, the industry is basically close out of the federally regulated banking device. This way maximum felony cannabis organizations often have hundreds, now and again millions, of greenbacks in cash and product reachable. Cannabis desires to get from warehouse to retail keep. Cash desires to be transported from stores to non-public vaults, to the handful of state-chartered credit score unions as a way to work with hashish organizations, and to local IRS places of work. (Yes, marijuana companies pay taxes).
The massive armored vehicles that service banks generally weigh greater than 10,000 lbs, the brink at which federal law requires registration as a business vehicle with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). But DOT-certified motors are prohibited by means of the feds from hauling marijuana.
In order to transport each pot and coins, a new area of interest of the armored vehicle enterprise has emerged. It largely makes use of Ford Transits and comparable models—the almost equal Dodge Sprinter, as an instance—that weigh underneath five tons, thereby avoiding federal oversight as long as they do now not pass nation traces.
Bulletproof glass and digital safes
Though now not as rugged because the armored vehicles banks use, the Transits utilized by hashish agencies undergo all varieties of protection enhancements that get them close sufficient.
“The glass by myself is worth extra than a motor and transmission,” Jeff Breier, COO of Hardcar Security, a Palm Springs, California business enterprise that services the hashish enterprise, instructed Business Fleet magazine.
Hardcar’s fleet of 10 Ford Transit vehicles are prepared with GPS trackers—a California country requirement—kill switches that could cut the engine remotely, blast-evidence doors, and an alert system that notifies Hardcar and the police in case of emergency. Hardcar’s device also routes drivers far from internal border checkpoints manned by means of federal government. (In California, transferring pot “through plane, watercraft, drone, rail, human powered automobile, and unmanned car is prohibited.”)
For those organizations massive enough to require their very own armored fleets, Quality Coachworks, placed in Southern California, can deliver an armored Ford Transit hashish van in seven to 10 operating days, which run approximately $60,000.
One special characteristic this is turning into a trendy inside the enterprise: digital cashboxes programmed to open simplest whilst the automobile arrives at its destination.
Ford Transits have even come to be famous in Canada, where marijuana is prison at the federal degree and the equal sort of weight guidelines don’t apply as in the US.
In that marketplace, it’s the Transit’s plain appearance that makes it appealing, as one dealer, INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing of Toronto, touts on its internet site. “With protection the number one attention, an armored cash in transit car that is quite discreet and appears no exclusive to some other van makes it ideal for hashish transportation,” it says.
It comes with all the standard protections, consisting of run-flat tires. The passenger compartment is rated to forestall rounds up to a .Forty four magnum, with upgrades available.
Playing the chances
Not all cannabis-compliant trucks are equipped for battle.
Some of them are added unarmored, which is inexpensive, and in reality a few pot corporations accept as true with fortifying their cars against armed attackers is overkill.
“We make our delivery motors nameless,” Smoke Wallin, CEO of California grower/distributor Vertical, tells Quartz. A former advertising executive in the liquor enterprise, Wallin says he’d love to “wrap them in branding, but my COO stated no.”
That COO, Drew Milburn, says robberies are rare. The organization isn’t going to hazard anyone’s existence over the contents of one in all their trucks, which, he explains, are normally now not sporting astronomical quantities of coins or product anyway. Vertical’s warehouses, then again, are full of plenty of both and are consequently relatively cozy.
Says Milburn, “If anyone desires to take the van, allow them to take the van.”