Cannabis Transportation: The Challenges of Getting Product from Point A to Point B
Kelli Vo – Dope Magazine
Would you transport hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank using your commuter car? Who would be crazy enough to risk that much money?
Unfortunately, this is the dilemma faced by many businesses in the marijuana industry. At more than $200 an ounce, transporting a single pound of marijuana between a grow and a dispensary can be a big risk—both financially and professionally. There’s just one problem: there are few options available for safe transport.
Traditional courier services are out. Marijuana companies can’t use UPS or FedEx to ship their product either. They also can’t get their product delivered in semi-trucks like a grocery store would. Instead, they must figure out their own transportation logistics, which have to follow state distribution licensing requirements. This can create a huge bottleneck, in which cannabis gets stuck at the grower because there are not enough legal transportation options.
This is what happened in Nevada when recreational marijuana first went online. According to the state, liquor distributors had an 18-month exclusive right to distribute recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, there were not enough distributors to serve the state and, barely a week after going live, dispensaries in Nevada struggled to get the product they desperately needed.
So what’s the solution? Small, independent transport companies. In Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California, cannabis transportation companies are popping up with increasing frequency to meet the demands of the industry. Not only does cannabis require a safe and effective way to transport product, but being a mostly cash-only business, there’s a big market for money transportation as well. Using cargo vans, armored trucks and highly-trained drivers, these companies are safely transporting cannabis—and cash—on the road.
One example of such a company is HARDCAR Next Generation Security. “Our service is integral to this space,” states Kelli Vowels, their Operations Manager. “We provide safe, discreet transport of not only cannabis and cannabis product, but of the cash that goes along with it. We are a veteran-owned and operated company, so not only do we provide armored vehicles, we provide mission-oriented armed drivers to ensure the goods arrive safely and without incident.”
This mix of transportation and security is key to the success of cannabis distribution. As a federally illegal substance, there can be serious ramifications if and when product is stolen—putting the grower, dispensary and their employees at risk. In addition, as a fledgling industry, all eyes are focused on its safety and efficacy, so ensuring legal product doesn’t end up in the illegal market is paramount.
That’s why HARDCAR and other similar companies use armored vehicles to decrease vulnerability to theft. HARDCAR even takes things a step further: “A real-time tracking app ensures that businesses know the exact location of their agent and their armored vehicle through each part of the secure route,” explains Vowels.
HARDCAR also only hires drivers and security officers with a history of serving in a similar capacity. Their workforce is made up of veterans and former law enforcement officers who have been recognized and valued for their training and experience.
Despite the necessity of independent cannabis transportation companies, like everything else in the marijuana industry, there have been some roadblocks on the way to success. For example, HARDCAR had a difficult time getting insurance when they first started; other companies have struggled to gain loans to purchase additional vehicles.
For Vowels, “The biggest hurdles for everyone in the cannabis industry are state versus federal laws, and maintaining 100 percent compliance to avoid any potential issues. HARDCAR is 100 percent compliant, fully bonded and insured. We began that way from the start and we will maintain this integrity going forward.”
Currently, HARDCAR Security has twenty employees and multiple trucks, but that’s nowhere near what will be required for California’s new recreational market. Business analysts estimate that introducing recreational cannabis in the Golden State will bump the marijuana industry by ten percent, worth $2.64 billion.