‘Smash-and-Grab’ looters hit Calif. cannabis shops, stealing $5M in product: ‘Safer selling on the street’

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The smash-and-grab crimewave sweeping the country has spiraled out of control in the Bay Area with emboldened thieves specifically targeting cannabis dispensaries over the past month.

The cumulative losses in products for the over 25 shops hit primarily over the weekend before Thanksgiving in the northern California area are estimated at over $5 million according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

“I was safer, and had more money, (selling) on the street, illegally,” Tucky Blunt, owner of Blunts and More in Oakland told MJBizDaily after his store was hit last month. He estimates it will cost around $25,000 to fix.

(Video Credit: KRON)

But Blunt estimates that last month’s burglary was just the latest of around 10 instances of crime his shop located near the Oakland Coliseum has seen since 2018. Last year, he was not as lucky when his business was robbed and sustained about $700,000 in losses.

He explained that other business owners weren’t so lucky.

“I know 25 or so businesses that got hit … and out of all those, the percentage I know that told me that they may not be able to reopen is about 50%,” Blunt said. “That’s scary.”

A cannabis business owner and CEO of Supernova Woman – a nonprofit “that works to empower Black and Brown people to become self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space” – held a press conference outside of the Oakland City Hall to list the cannabis workers demands.

“We are here today because cannabis businesses in Oakland are under attack,” Amber Senter said.

“We need more protection,” Senter explained. “We need more funds and resources to improve security so that we can protect ourselves.”

Senter also urged other local businesses to join forces with marijuana store owners in a tax strike in order to try to force the mayor’s hand in declaring the recent crimewave a state of emergency. Although officials did not estimate the potential losses from such a strike, Oakland spokesperson Harry Hamilton said the city collected $22.36 million from the cannabis industry over the past two years.

Some responses to the rash of burglaries offered a simple explanation for the core issue at hand.

Chaney Turner, the chair of the Oakland Cannabis Commission, explained: “We just want people to be safe and smoke their weed in peace, and run their businesses.”

“The purpose of legalization and equity was to generate wealth for communities and individuals who were harmed by the drug war,” he said. “Now these same people who were harmed by the drug war are being harmed by not being protected by the people who are paid to protect them.”

The crime has escalated so high that even some left-wing elected officials appear to be waking up to the fact that the lackadaisical approach to prosecuting crimes in California may be encouraging criminals to commit more crimes. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently made a surprisingly firm statement supporting law and order when he was reacting to a recent smash-and-grab incident, although his statement largely passed the blame to others instead of focusing on his own failed policies such as placing his signature on Assembly Bill 392 that limited the use of police force in the left coast state.

“If people are breaking in, people stealing your property, they need to be arrested. Police need to arrest them. Prosecutors need to prosecute them. Judges need to hold people accountable for breaking the law,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “These are not victimless crimes, and I have no empathy for these criminal elements.”

Ashley Hill

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