June 1, 2020


 
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Two MedMen locations in Los Angeles suffered heavy looting amid incidents at dozens of stores. (via Twitter)

Legal cannabis dispensary operators and industry members said they fear more targeted looting as well as attacks by professional criminals this week amid national civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Several dozen dispensaries in California and two in Oregon were subject to a wide range of criminal acts over the weekend, including vandalism, ransacking, and targeted professional robberies. At least one cannabis producer and a licensed distributor in California also reported being robbed.

Due to the licensed cannabis industry’s low access to banking, the businesses often have cash and an easily sellable product. Licensing also comes with increased public visibility, making them a target in a time when police might not respond.

MedMen looted in LA

Looting occurred in major cities across the country over the weekend, spurring the deployment of the National Guard in 15 states; at least 1,400 were arrested and four dead as of Sunday night. Dispensaries have emerged as targets for looters on the West Coast.

Social media footage shows people carrying out red shopping bags from two MedMen locations in Los Angeles. Similar acts were filmed at Cookies Melrose in Los Angeles. A lot of them looked like customers.

Berner and BREAL’s stores robbed

High-profile rapper Berner and Cypress Hill rapper BREAL both reported robberies at their stores over the weekend. Berner said he understood looters’ rage and said business cannot exist without justice.

“I cannot expect anything less until justice is served,” said Berner.

BREAL called for more peaceful forms of protest.

“Rioting, looting, and burning down business all during a pandemic isn’t going to make the change needed. It will only set us back. Protest peacefully and remove the instigators that aren’t there in the name of George Floyd,” said BREAL.

Social equity stores owned and operated by African-Americans are getting looted, too, including Oakland licensee ECO Cannabis and Blunts & Moore.

In San Francisco, approximately ten stores faced vandalism or looting over the weekend, according to a store owner speaking on background. An email to the Office of Cannabis is pending a response.

Professional hitters in Oakland, San Francisco

Opportunistic looting has followed professional robberies on cannabis licensees, said a longtime industry member speaking on background.

Licensed cannabis stores have cameras, multiple layers of security, and safes. That wasn’t enough to stop professional burglars at Magnolia Wellness dispensary in Oakland, CA.

Police failed to respond for an hour while robbers cleaned the building out Saturday night. Operator Debby Goldsberry is a High Times Freedom Fighter of the Year and has spent her life fighting racism as a cannabis activist. Goldsberry said she did not blame looters and understood their anger.

Magnolia Oakland and many other dispensaries in the bay area were hit by armed robbers last night (not looters, not protesters, please be clear about that),” Goldsberry said. “Our shop can be rebuilt, but the black lives taken by the police, again and again, are gone forever.”

Similarly, professional burglars hit at least two San Francisco clubs, sometimes bringing safe-cracking equipment. Ransackers followed at one spot.

Two professional-looking men in head-to-toe clean suits were caught on camera in one San Francisco dispensary Saturday night, according to footage shown to Leafly.

More acts of robbery feared

San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and other cities have enacted sunset curfews to quell looting.

Word appears to be out among career criminals looking to exploit a gap in policing as protests tie up resources.

Burglars attempted to breach, and subsequently shot at, an Oakland indoor farm for Cookies Sunday night.

The entire supply chain is on high alert for robbery, from both inside jobs, and professional criminals who’ve long-known and tested industry defenses, an industry source told Leafly Monday. “We’re sitting fucking ducks. I think it’s going to happen every night.”


 
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David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He’s written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including ‘Marijuana Harvest’ by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns