In the midst of the ongoing crime wave that’s targeted the legal cannabis industry in California over the last few years, organized criminal groups are now using protests over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police as a distraction to target pot.
These more organized groups have proven to be a factor, in addition to those dispensaries caught up in wider looting waves hitting whole businesses in whole geographic areas. But many of the locations across the state’s biggest cannabis markets in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and beyond were well removed from the protests at the time of their robbery. Not all, but enough to be suspicious.
With police resources heavily focused on the ongoing demonstrations across the U.S., nobody is showing up to help when these cannabis locations are getting targeted. Many dispensaries saw multiple waves of looters attempting to scavenge whatever was left or make multiple efforts to breach a facility. One location saw eight attempts to gain entry all fail.
It’s not just dispensaries we’re talking about, grow, distribution, and manufacturers are also currently a target. One of the things industry insiders pointed to was how accessible the locations of all these facilities had been through the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s website prior to their removal, but regardless, the streets talk. Many questioned the idea of those addresses being so accessible since the earliest days of the formation of the regulatory process, time proved that crowd right.
The resulting chaos has now left many places closed in lockdown. Parts of the supply chain are essentially halted for dispensaries that survived the demonstrations.
Another looming aspect of the destruction — whatever federal aid comes to help repair America from the weekend will not include the cannabis industry. As with coronavirus, pot businesses will be barred from participating in whatever support structures are created for the many businesses destroyed since Friday night.
Within the darkness, many dispensaries have not let the damage and losses they’ve sustained impact their view on the message at the root of these protests around George Floyd’s murder. Among them is Cookies, who had their shops on Melrose and in Oakland decimated. Berner, Cookies’ co-founder and CEO, spoke with L.A. Weekly about the current unrest.
“The world is in pain, without justice how can I expect anything else right now, a statement needed to be made,” Berner said. “We were able to re-build and open our store back up today, but that man’s life is gone.”
A Bay Area native, Berner has seen his fair share of controversial police encounters resulting in a loss of life shake communities to their core. It’s been an all too common occurrence in places like Oakland and San Francisco.
“We are fed up with the justice system and pray all of the officers involved in George Floyd’s murder face criminal charges,” he said. “We will be here to continue to spread love through this plant and bringing positive vibes to the city of Los Angeles.”
The industry in other states is dealing with the same issues. One letter currently making the rounds across social media in the industry comes from Kris Krane. Krane is co-founder and president of 4Front, one of the industries leading investment and operations firm, but has also been an activist for over 20 years. His 4Front’s Mission South Side dispensary in Chicago was hit hard over the weekend. Krane posted his personal take, not on behalf of the company.
“We were one of a number of dispensaries in the Chicago area and nationwide to be targeted, and in this case we were also part of a spate of lootings in our neighborhood,” Krane told colleagues in a Facebook post while noting nearly every other business in the neighborhood had been destroyed. “The community will need a lot of healing when this is done, and we are already coordinating with our Alderman to be part of the neighborhood clean up and rebuilding process. We will not run from this community because of this. We will further embrace it and participate in the healing to come.”
Krane was overjoyed his staff was able to remove itself from the location unscathed.
“Despite the sadness and destruction, my support for the protests and the underlying goal of ending police brutality, systemic law enforcement reform, and societal recognition of the fundamental humanity of people of color in this country remains undeterred,” Krane said. “I stand with those protesting for human rights and justice, and understand why some feel so disempowered that they have no recourse but rage and violence.”
As for the man the group that raided the dispensary, Krane said they were not protesters. They arrived in cars, armed ready to strike the store.
“But I urge people not to look at this as anything but a distraction from the cause that started the protests in the first place, and the overwhelming majority of protesters who stand for justice and equality,” Krane said.
This is a running list of the dispensaries targeted so you can show them support in the weeks to come. Let me know if you want your dispensary listed.
- Los Angeles: Cookies Melrose; MedMen, West Hollywood and downtown; LA Kush; Sweet Flower; Pottery
- San Francisco: Both Urbanas; Grass Roots; Medithrive; Green Cross; 212 California St.; Mission Cannabis Club; Dr. Greenthumb; Moe Green’s; Apothecarium Castro; Connected SF; Dutchman’s Flat
- Sacramento: Nug; 515 Broadway;
- Oakland: Cookies: Magnolia: Blüm; ECO Cannabis
- Berkeley: Farmacy
- Vallejo: VHHC
- San Leandro: Harborside