This week, legal cannabis dispensaries declared they fear targeted looting and criminal assault, in the context of the national civil riots sparked out over the assassination of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
More than forty dispensaries across California (and even two in Oregon) suffered a wide range of felonious acts during the last weekend of May. The attacks these businesses have undergone include vandalism, looting, and professional, possibly premeditated thefts.
Due to legal marijuana businesses’ almost non-existent rights to banking services, these companies often end up having on site quite relevant amounts of cash, alongside a product that still sells itself regardless its newly-gained elasticity. Furthermore, obtaining a license and going public and legal also comes with a type of visibility that turns these businesses into a target in a moment when police response is heavily affected and possibly delayed.
Looting took place in multiple major cities across the country over the weekend, to the point that the Federal Government decided to deploy the National Guard in 15 states. Dispensaries ended up being targets for looters on the West Coast.
Videos circulated on social media show people, carrying the peculiar MedMen red shopping bag, coming out from two of the company’s Los Angeles stores that have been broken into. Such deeds were also recorded on camera at Cookies Melrose and Cookies Hollywood in Los Angeles. Rapper Berner, owner of the Cookies brand, commented on the events via his Instagram page, pointing out that businesses will not have the ability to exist “until justice is served”. Looters and robbers also targeted Dr. Greenthumb’s store in Sylmar . Its owner, rapper B-Real, front-man of the iconic group Cypress Hill, invited protestors to isolate looters and vandals whose actions undermine the movement, and take distance from them as a group, for these people are instigators that are not defending the cause of justice for George Floyd.
Social equity stores that are black-owned and -operated have been reportedly looted, too, as for example is the case of Oakland’s ECO Cannabis and Blunts & Moore.
Opportunistic looting has trailed professional robberies at the damage of cannabis stores. Licensed marijuana dispensaries protect themselves with cameras, multi-layered security and safes. Nonetheless, all these safety measures didn’t make the cut as for halting professional thieves from hitting Oakland-based Magnolia Wellness.
In a post diffused via her social media, Magnolia operator Debby Goldsberry detailed how police response did not come for a long as one whole hour, while robbers cleaned the building out Saturday night. Goldsberry, who has a life-long resumé in the fight against racism as well as in cannabis activism, told Leafly that she understands very well the protestors’ anger; a business can always come back, but that is definitely not the case for black lives taken prematurely away because of police violence.