I have been lucky to work for a dispensary that has always had a guard in place, but for first time visitors there can often be an odd level of off-putting energy surrounding seeing someone armed greeting you at the doorway. Not all dispensaries have guards, but the ones that do I would say are ahead of the curve. There have been several instances of unguarded dispensaries being robbed, generally responding by hiring security the next day, most likely kicking themselves for not jumping on the boat. There is also a level of imaginative paranoia that I personally have where I can totally see security companies hiring essentially hit-men to go rob a dispensary to land contracts, though lets all hope that is not a thing.
But why guards? Simply put, this is a thing that is assumed to be necessary given the assumed clientele that populate the group of people that have been long time weed smokers, but personally even in black market sales safety was rarely something that I felt I had to double take on, as most of the people I have dealt with as well as people I’ve talked to about their experiences never found themselves in any kind of “I think I need to start carrying a gun” mentality. Most of the instances where I feel like I have heard about such things were dealers that didn’t just sell weed, other things like cocaine and pills being more likely to attract violent and unstable people, more along the lines of requiring protection.
But an important thing to consider, something that I have written a decent amount about before, is people that are still operating within the black market, using dispensaries to facilitate their personal sales. There is a massive element of the legal weed market that involves people running to various dispensaries and scalping deals so as to still be able to make a profit when they flip it to neighbors or an established customer base of some kind, as well as people with medical cards that solely use them to get large quantities that they can then flip for more than the running price for medical, which their customers may not have the option to access.
This is a big part of the demographic that is likely to cause a scene in a dispensary, screaming at budtenders because the prices they get quoted don’t allow them to flip for enough profit, then putting the blame on us as an industry, which while that is technically the case it puts us in the compromising position of dealing with having to remove someone from the premises for trying to make us sell to someone that we are then sure are reselling it, which we are legally required to shut down. But when you’ve got a huge dude screaming in your face, banging on counters, it’s nice to have someone to look over to that can help you. This also takes the potential legal implications of removing a customer out of you as the budtender’s hands, and puts it in the hands of a trained professional who’s job is exactly that.
I love our guards, and some of them have remained my friends even after working with them, though of course you can always get the slightly overzealous ones, as most are ex-military or ex-police, nothing to their discredit, some off them just need to calm down a little. But it also doesn’t help when snarky customers berate them about carrying a gun or joke about them not being able to protect anyone, which I have seen happen several times. Even though it can be somewhat off-putting to see a guard in a dispensary just know that you for sure would rather have them there rather than not, and understand that they are not looking to pick a fight, they only want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as it should.