State beefs up security in anticipation of major cash influx from medical marijuana

One state agency is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to beef up security. These changes will be made ahead of the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state.

With eight licenses given out to dispensaries, the state tax department will have an entirely new type of business to collect money from in the upcoming year. These dispensaries will be the first of their kind in the state.

The state tax department says it’s beefing up security to keep employees safe, that’s because soon big bags of cash will be coming through the tax department, courtesy of the state’s budding medial marijuana industry. Mallory Fujitani, a spokesperson for the state tax department, says the department has gone to other states for help, “It’s a lot of work for us but we do have a lot of people and expertise that we can rely on.”

The state has been turning to it’s sister agencies for advice on how to deal with the influx of cash, Fujitani saying its going to need plenty extra help dealing with security. “In our building we do have a sheriff that stands by the front and helps with the check in of people coming into the public building. Some of the neighbor Island offices the security is a little more lax, so we’re just going to make sure we have more consistent armored guard service.”

In it’s budget request, the tax department will be asking for just over $600,000. That’s $118,000 for more security personnel and increased armored car services, and $500,000 for safety and security upgrades. This money will go towards the infrastructure the state needs to bring in and count it’s new tax revenue, and will provide surveillance and access equipment to keep it’s employees safe, and to ensure there is a secure place to count the cash.

As for security at the actual dispensaries, KHON2 checked with Michael Takano, the CEO of Pono Life Science, a dispensary opening on Maui. In a statement he said, “Handling large sums of cash is a key concern that many in this industry have been dealing with in other states. We have written policies and procedures to safeguard cash transactions as in any other point of sale operation. Our protocols include trained security to transport our products and cash, in a process where other physical and procedural safeguards are in place. The state also plays a major role in accepting large sums of cash for tax payments and in meeting with Hawaii banks to encourage them to provide banking services to the medical marijuana industry.”


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