On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black man, died at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Department officer, leading to nationwide protests against systemic police brutality against unarmed black men. Although the protests were peaceful at first, they became violent, leading to widespread rioting and looting over the weekend. Tons of business establishments nationwide have been affected by the looting, and marijuana businesses haven’t been spared.
Dozens of cannabis shops in Oregon, Illinois, San Francisco and California have been vandalized and according to the business owners whose businesses were hit, looting was carried out by professional criminals, and not the protesters themselves. Cannabis retailers in California which were looted include Cookies, Blum, MedMen, and Harborside, and reports indicate the shops in San Francisco Bay Area were especially hit.
Although they don’t have definitive figures, cannabis retailers have likely suffered thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, and it not yet clear whether it will be covered by insurance. According to Sue Taylor, owner of the Farmacy Berkely which opened for business in early 2020, her store was broken into three times over the weekend by armed robbers. Several cars pulled up outside her shop after midnight on Saturday carrying roughly 30 individuals who overwhelmed her security guards.
“They busted through the front door and did a grab-and-snatch. They got a little product but not a lot, because all the money was in the vault, and they tore up one display. They took five, six minutes, and the police were there within six minutes,” Taylor said. Fortunately, the police arrived minutes after the break in and prevented further loses, she says.
The looters were back early Monday morning, and as there was no merchandise to be had at that point, she says, the looters started “tearing up” the shop. Although she sides with the Black Lives Matter protesters, she is feeling “very conflicted” now that her family-owned business is in the looters’ cross hairs. “It’s very conflicting. It’s two sides to every story, and even though I don’t agree with what they’re doing, there’s some part of me that understands as an African American.”
Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, California was also hit multiple times over the weekend and according to CEO Debby Goldsberry, “cleaned out” of its cannabis inventory. Like Taylor, she believes the vandalism wasn’t done by protesters but by criminals using the protests as cover for their nefarious activities.
“It’s not the work of rioters or looters or protesters. There’s organized gangs that have been targeting cannabis businesses for years. That’s what it is.”
Analysts say cannabis companies like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF) are probably very disappointed by the looting targeting pot shops since the cannabis industry has been very vocal in campaigning for the rights of marginalized sections of the community.
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