In June 1920, the United States Congress passed the 18th amendment, (the Volstead act) and the start of prohibition.
Herbert Hoover the POTUS at the time said, “Our country has undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far- reaching in purpose”. An experiment in ridding America of alcohol beverages and improve the health and hygiene in America. Prohibition, now made the nationwide production, transportation, and sale of alcohol Illegal. The majority of the populous of that era abided by the law, however, it created a new market and forced the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol “underground”.
The new underground market(s) were social clubs known as speak ease’s. In 1925 in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 of these speak ease’s in operation. In order to supply these the establishments with alcohol, the owners had production and transport teams that would supply the liquor illegally. While different groups or factions held majority positions in this market, all of them had protection teams.
These teams were hired to protect the production, transportation, sale and ensure the physical protection of the owners. They protected their clients’ interests, and their vast revenue streams, with loyalty and without reservation so that their businesses flourished; however, in the eyes of the US government, the business in itself was illegal.
I can imagine that the protection teams of their time, like us today, were faced with many moral, legal, and operational questions they had to make decisions on. Different Protectors, I’m sure, had different opinions on prohibition, some may have had preexisting relationships with their clients, and others perhaps were driven by the opportunity to make substantial incomes.
In December of 1933 prohibition ended and alcohol became legal. If you were around in those times, where you would have stood? Even more so, eighty years later has history repeated itself?
Executive Protection today: We come from all corners of the world, every city, and every state. We serve with distinction, Integrity, and loyalty so that others remain safe. However, the reality is, our world and another world are quickly approaching each other, “what world” you ask? The world of “GREEN” no, not money…. Marijuana! Will we see a return to this with the protection for marijuana entrepreneurs?
According to the Dept. of revenue for the state of Colorado, for the first quarter of the fiscal year, 2014 sales of medical and recreational marijuana were 109 million dollars, with the second quarter sales coming in slightly less at, 105.6 million dollars. If my estimates are correct, that would be slightly under a half of a Billion dollars at the end of the fiscal year. Colorado has taken in more than 4.9 million in tax revenue for June 2014 and has allocated 3.6 million of that to local governments for distribution. To give some perspective, gasoline tax revenue for the same month was a mere 2.3 million. In a recent Wall Street Journal ad, It said, “that ex CEO’S and marketing exec’s of fortune 100 companies have already started forming mutual funds to start preparing for the next dot com”.
IF this is true, and Colorado’s numbers are any forecast for the future, there will certainly be emerging entrepreneurs and deep-pocketed financers on the horizon. They will undoubtedly need protection for themselves, their families, their crops, their store “pharmacies”, their homes, and transportation modes and when that time comes, whom will they call? Who are the new age entrepreneurs going to task to protect their millions or Billions? Is there a whole new market for the security Industry coming soon? I say yes.
The question Security agencies will have to ask themselves is, “do I wait on federal regulators to figure it out, or get ahead of the curve now?” Because the fact is, while legal on a State level, it is still illegal on the books of the Federal Government. Is this a conflict of what we stand for, or an emerging market that if the professionals don’t take root, the bottom feeders will?
Would our core beliefs stand fast, or will the driving market of marijuana be a catalyst to augment our protocols to fit the market? If the current tax revenue of Colorado among other states (23 & D.C.) increases and the deficits of these states are non-existent because of the marijuana market, the Federal Government will have to take notice. The federal government will have to eventually, amend the laws to govern the growing sales and taxation of marijuana. Not only will states get financial gain but they will also have fewer drug arrests, fewer prisoners, and less money to allocate to the “war on drugs” specifically, marijuana.
Colorado is currently building new schools, buying equipment for local emergency responders, building youth centers, (while still experimental) saving or improving the quality of life for those in poor health, fixing and building new infrastructure for their growing populations, and think of all the jobs that would be created, it’s endless. So, is this the vein in which we approach the Idea of protecting the new entrepreneur?
We as an Industry, must forecast and analyze the market and have discussions on if it’s possible to legally capitalize like many others have/will or, we can stand on our individual “soap boxes” and watch the train go by.
I love what I do, I love everything about this profession, and I cringe at the thought of someone or something tarnishing the reputation of this Industry so I ask, “ How will this affect the practice of Executive Protection”? “What will the security Industry do as a whole”? By the time of this publication, a symposium for future investors on Marijuana will be held here in Florida to discuss how they can get involved. Marijuana is only on the voting ballot for a vote in November.
At the end of the day, will this new market help or hurt our Industry, that’s the question. Will it help, in the sense that agencies expand, hire people, allow agencies to buy more specialized equipment, vehicles, allow them to offer health insurance to their employees, provide better training for specialists?
Or will it hurt, in the sense that we as an industry could possibly be encapsulated into the realm of “glorified drug dealers”, by protecting those who grow and sell marijuana? Would it affect a company not getting a government contract if their client includes a marijuana entrepreneur?
Or would it be seen as just the end of prohibition, like alcohol? I’m sure many of us have been exposed to marijuana in our lifetime, one way, or another other. Would our Industry be a part of the greater good, or would we be condoning the sale of marijuana and sending the wrong message that it’s ok? Make no doubt about it, in the US, the sand is being poured, and soon a line will need to be drawn.
By: Mark Roche EPS
EP For Green… When Will Our World’s Collide? – First published in issue 25 of the Circuit