'Marijuana fortress' takes dispensary security to new heights

'Marijuana fortress' takes dispensary security to new heights »Play Video
Marijuana buds are kept in a secure location behind bullet-proof glass in a Georgetown dispensary that's designed more like a bank than a store.
SEATTLE - With medical marijuana dispensaries spreading throughout Western Washington - and the fate of a bill to regulate them in doubt - more and more of the pot outlets are being targeted by thieves.

But at least one new dispensary has spent tens of thousands of dollars to make sure the staff and patients are safe at all times.

The result is something that resembles a bank more than a store.

With cameras in one corner, an 1,800-pound safe in another and a layer of bullet-proof glass between patients and staffers who dispense the drug - it's a marijuana fortress.

"We're safe. We took the time, we did our research. We're here to help the patient," says Johnny Mahalo, president CannaPi, which runs the dispensary.

Patients who come to the nondescript Georgetown building find themselves inside a medical marijuana dispensary unlike most they've probably seen.

Mahalo says CannaPi sunk about $80,000 into security upgrades.

"It's blacked out so you cannot see into our safe room," he says.

Security measures include a safe room with bullet-proof pass-through boxes to hand over pot.

The heightened security is something they learned from incidents like the one in which two men attacked a worker at a Fremont dispensary about five months ago.

In that incident, the suspects climbed through an opening between the office and the lobby, raided the safe, and beat up a worker.

But CannaPi aims to be something different - something completely secure.

They even put double bars on the skylight, to make sure no one could get through. They've also installed motion detectors and more.

The staff here says they even worked with Seattle Police on their set-up.

"It makes me feel, you know, like, OK, they're professional and doing it right," says patient Glenn Danielson of Kirkland.

"We took security seriously," says Mahalo. "We all have families, we all have friends. We all want to be around for the next day."

Mahalo won't reveal exactly how many cameras are watching, only that "there are a lot."

The dispensary even added an extra level of security by sharing a parking lot with a nearby bank.