Whether you’ve read about him, watched the YouTube video that’s had 32 million views, or met him in person, one thing is immediately clear: Ted Daniels is the real deal.
It’s not just his physical size, though he could probably toss you across a room with one hand. And it’s not just the burly bass voice that has cut through a battlefield in Afghanistan as easily as a convention hall filled with 10,000 people. Overlying his simmering power, Ted exudes that rare combination of competence and intelligence that makes one feel comfortable and secure.
So while it makes sense that Ted Daniels is the founder of National Cannabis Security Services, a nationwide service organization dedicated to protecting the people, product, and cash of legal cannabis businesses, one wonders how this enlightened warrior made the transition from 20 years in law enforcement and military combat to protecting the cannabis industry.
We were fortunate to catch Ted between appointments:
American Cannabis Report (ACR): Hi Ted, thanks so much for taking a few minutes today. We hear you’re crazy busy these days.
Ted Daniels (TD): Just got back from California, Ohio, Arkansas, and just found out I have to go to Florida next week. Demand for security services has been off the hook.
ACR: But wait… we thought you’d retired after you built and sold Blue Line Security Group? What brought you out of retirement to form National Cannabis Security Services?
TD: I came out of retirement because as the industry was spreading east I saw some people calling themselves “security experts” who are far from it. They were like sharks moving in the water, ready to prey on unsuspecting people applying for licenses. I wanted to make sure that the standards were held high, that when somebody hired a security expert to help with their application, that they got their money’s worth.
ACR: How does one know whether a “security expert” is reputable?
TD: Google my name, or Terry Blevins, Hunter Garth, Dave Beckett… you’ll see pages of stuff on us, about our experience, our client testimonials. That’s a good start.
ACR: You know those other guys personally?
TD: I do, and I really respect them. Technically, they’re competitors but they’re good guys. If you’re researching a potential security firm, read their client testimonials, ask for references, ask to see an example of a security plan. After you sign a non-disclosure agreement, a reputable operator will show you a plan (redacted to protect client privacy). Watch out for guys with no clients and no experience calling themselves “industry leaders”, or alarm companies with no installs claiming they “know what it takes to keep a business safe.” A big red flag is how quickly the conversation is steered to the fee. Be extra careful when they make real hard play for “taking equity” in the company you’ve built.
ACR: People must ask how you went from 15 years in law enforcement, followed by four years in US Army infantry, to the cannabis industry. Do your buddies think you went to the dark side?
TD: I speak to law enforcement people every day, and I get that “dark side” question a lot. I tell them we’re actually on the same side now, protecting people in a multi-billion dollar licensed, regulated industry that was approved by voters and legislators. My clients are not lurking in the shadows selling to kids. They work incredibly hard, they’re safe and pay their taxes, and they deserve the best protection we can give them from the real dark side – street dealers and cartel members and and armed criminals who try to steal product or cash right on the street, and don’t care about hurting people in doing so.
I can tell when a guy has “bad drugs” caricatures burned into his mind, so I’ll ask, “What if you replaced the word ‘cannabis’ with the word ‘medicine’? Should we protect medicine?” And of course the answer is always ‘yes’, so I say, “Good, because I’m a wounded combat veteran and for many, many of my people, cannabis is real medicine. It keeps them from doing stuff that could kill them.”
ACR: That’s powerful…
TD: I have friends who got it way worse than I did. I feel a very real responsibility to help educate on this subject.
ACR: You really know the industry from both sides (law enforcement and cannabis clients). Do legislators and policymakers ask your advice?
TD: They do. I’ve worked with several states on helping create mandates and guidelines. I currently work with both large cities and smaller municipalities across the country, and the LA Cannabis Task Force. I feel that my background in law enforcement allows me to speak with legislators and policymakers on a level that they understand and appreciate. I applaud them for reaching out and wanting to be educated about our industry, setting standards and making sure things are done the right way. It shows that they have an open mind and truly want to make this industry work.
ACR: Many people are afraid of having a cannabis business in their communities, but you've said you're “putting drug dealers out of business.” That sounds like a good thing... can you expand on that idea?
TD: Having a background in law enforcement, I saw that nearly 90% of crime revolved around the illegal drug trade. Whether it was burglaries, robberies, shoplifting, theft and some assaults and murders could all be traced back to the illegal drug trade. If we can wipe out the underground drug trade through the presence of safe, legal facilities, crime will be highly reduced, as well. And most people know they get much better grade of a product from a dispensary.
ACR: About how many security professionals are working for you? Where do they come from? Can you tell us about their depth of training and experience?
TD: I have numerous guys working for us and we continue to expand daily. The great majority come from the military and law enforcement and have several hundred thousand dollars invested in their training from the government. You can’t find or pay for that type of training anywhere else. Many are veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. They enjoy the brotherhood of working with other vets. The know what to look for in guarding people, product and money. I could not think of anyone else better suited for this type of work.
ACR: Does NCSS only do armed-guard-and-transport stuff, or do you provide other kinds of support?
TD: We like to start with clients early in their licensing process and provide detailed security plans that many feel are among the best in the industry. We do provide trained professional guard and transport services, and protection for celebrities at industry events. We have partnered with an elite organization and formed a joint venture under the NCSS brand to handle employee background checks and do internal investigations for clients. If they suspect any type of internal theft, product shrinkage etc., we can work professionally to investigate the incident. This also applies as ancillary reports to law enforcement if an external threat was identified.
ACR: How is a strong security apparatus important in maintaining the seed-to-sale integrity?
TD: We are fortunate enough to work with some of the top guys in the industry who do the seed to sale software. It is extremely important that that the platform you choose minimizes losses and allows you to track everything accordingly.
ACR: How are you keeping up with the demand for your services?
TD: I spend a lot of time travelling. I also rely heavily on my network of skilled application writers. They are the ones who send a lot of work my way in constructing winning security plans for them and their clients. When I travel, I meet with clients, I put on licensing seminars in various states and upon request, I meet with legislators. 18-20 hour days are the norm. Because of my bandwidth, I cannot work with everyone who comes my direction. I wish I could but unfortunately, I just don’t have the time. People pay top dollar for my services and I need to ensure that they get my best effort. If I spread myself too thin, I am doing everybody a disservice.
ACR: Without naming names, what is the biggest problem in the cannabis industry which, if it were resolved, would fix a lot of other problems?
TD: Obviously, I feel the biggest problem is the banking issue. If that problem could be solved, it would eliminate many of the security concerns of this cash-only business. I’ll bet if banking came online, my business would decline by 50%. But I’d be OK with that because it means the industry would be going in the right direction.