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Cannabis shops increasingly opt for armed, private security to protect themselves

Buddy's Cannabis hired private security after being hit with robberies twice in recent months

RENTON, Wash. — A local cannabis shop in Renton is opting for private, armed security to further protect its business and customers, amid a week of several armed robberies at marijuana stores.

Buddy's Cannabis, located on 420 Sunset Blvd N. in Renton, hired private security after they were robbed in December and January.

"There's been a huge uptick in armed robberies in the cannabis world," Owner Myles Kahn said.

His business, which is about to celebrate its 6th anniversary next month, is popular among customers. It has won the "best cannabis" category in the Best of Renton awards in recent years. 

But the recent incidents have alarmed Kahn and his staff to the point where they've taken action to increase security.

"We have our own internal security, unarmed previously, and it seemed to have been enough. But when you have three guys rushing in with semiautomatic weapons, not much you can do," Kahn said.

Kahn added, cannabis shops are forced to be a cash-only business that makes them more vulnerable, and the product they sell is a drug.

As a licensed business, Kahn said he is required per state law, to post a sign at his business that says firearms are not allowed.

"So that's almost like an invitation to these people who have ill intentions. We have cash, and we have drugs, right? So that's very attractive for the wrong type," Kahn said.

Kahn said security is now part of his ongoing budget and is a significant expense.

"We can't even deduct it from our taxes, because as a federally illegal business, we cannot deduct our normal business expenses," Kahn said.

He is now looking toward the government for a long-term fix.

"The state could help us, maybe at least giving us a credit against the cannabis tax for the increased costs of security," Kahn said. "Hopefully get the fed to legalize it on a national basis, which would keep us from being an all-cash business. But these things don't happen overnight."

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