Rioters and looters have been damaging and burglarizing stores across the country for weeks now, amid largely peaceful protests over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd. Dispensaries are not immune to the looting, and marijuana shops across the United States have been damaged in riots.
The Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts says it’s investigating break-ins at three different cannabis retailers.
Pure Oasis is the first recreational marijuana dispensary in Boston, and the first adult-use store in the city to be owned by African-Americans. It was hit by looters a week after George Floyd’s death. Surveillance video shows over a dozen people breaking in through a window in the middle of the night and making off with about 2,000 pre-rolled joints and another 2,000 jars of marijuana flower. The total loss was over $100,000.
The Cannabis Control Commission says it’s also investigating incidents at Mayflower Medicinal, which is in Allston, and Patriot Care, which is in Boston. That same night, more than 50 people were arrested in riots in Boston.
Two dispensaries in San Jose also suffered burglaries, though this group of looters was less successful than those in Boston. A curfew started up in San Jose at 8:30 PM, but that didn’t stop people from trying to damage local businesses.
That same night, a separate group of around 10 people broke into Harborside by prying open the front doors, and took some edibles and cannabis concentrates, amounting to a few thousand dollars’ worth of product.
In Cleveland, Rise Dispensary was damaged in a protest that turned violent.
Chicago saw some of the worst violence toward dispensaries, which have been forced to close indefinitely. That’s despite the fact that most dispensaries in Illinois have heft security systems to comply with state regulations.
Mission South Shore, for instance, had bullet-proof glass that the owners thought was supposed to be impenetrable. In the weekend rioting, the owners learned that was not the case. The owner of that dispensary and the company that owns it, 4Front Ventures, says everything of value in the store, including the marijuana, was stolen.
In Berkley, California, two different dispensaries were hit multiple times by looters over the past weekend. Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood says Cannabis Buyers Club and Farmacy Berkeley both suffered losses. At Farmacy Berkeley, the owners say 5-10 vehicles drove up, and people hopped out of the cars, shattered the windows, and flooded inside.
The founder of Farmacy Berkeley is a minority business owner who says it’s her mission to heal the community.
Oakland saw mayhem day after day, and night after night. Cannabis businesses were not immune to the violence.
After looting in the city, the owner of Magnolia Dispensary turned to Facebook, writing,
“We were robbed by an armed group, and lost nearly everything. We will need help to rebuild. More when we can wrap our minds around this. To be clear, this was not protesters or looters, these were armed criminals. If you have not been hit yet, I advise you to close, and store your money and cannabis at a distributor out of the bay. More soon! We can’t rebuild without you all, as we are a small mom and pop with no corporate to bail us out. Love you all! Be safe. (We’re closed for a week or so.)”
Another San Francisco dispensary, Sparc, was also hit at multiple locations, and had to temporarily close down. The company wrote on its Instagram page,
“Sparc fully supports the public’s right to freedom of speech, and respects the right to protest in response to the murder of #GeorgeFloyd. The valid anger being displayed during the protests has manifested in the form of broken windows, theft, and other dangerous activities, making it difficult to operate our stores in a manner that is safe for customers and employees.”
Los Angeles saw several attacks. MedMen, La Kush, and Sherbinskis were hit. A dispensary called Cookies was, too. Berner, rapper and owner of Cookies, said in a video posted to Instagram,
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“It’s extremely unfortunate what happened to our store tonight on Melrose. But as a human living in the world today I can’t expect anything less until justice is served. We can rebuild our store but you can’t bring someone back to life. With that being said, we stand with what’s going on in the world, A statement needed to be made. I pray everyone stays safe and protects their family in a time like this. How can I worry about a store when there’s so much happening in the world right now? So much hate, so much anger, so much pain and a lack of justice. Please take care of your families and stay safe.”
Louis “B Real” Freese, acclaimed rapper and leading member of Cypress Hill, owns six different Dr. Greenthumb’s shop across California. “Today as a country we hit a low point. 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 Freese.
Today as a country we hit a low point. 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
— B Real ™ (@B_Real) May 31, 2020
George Floyd was killed Monday, May 25th when a Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes. For nearly 3 minutes of that, Floyd was unresponsive.
Before he lost his pulse, Floyd cried out for his mother, and told officers repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin has since been fired, charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and given a $1 million bail. The 44-year-old had 17 complaints filed against him prior to Floyd’s death.
The third-degree murder charge is applied for an accusation that “Derek Michael Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind without regard for human life.” It carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.
The second-degree charge alleges “Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd by his culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk and taking a chance of causing death or great bodily harm to George Floyd.” That sentence has a maximum sentence of 10 years and/or a fine of $20,000.
Three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest and death are J. Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. They’ve been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Each of them is in the Hennepin County Jail with a $750,000 bail.
Video shows Lang drew his gun on Floyd before he was detained, and also holding Floyd by the legs while Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck. Thao had six previous complaints against him.
A criminal complaint filed against Chauvin says Minneapolis Police were called out to a convenience store when the owner reported someone paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. The person who called pointed officers in the direction of Floyd’s vehicle, where he was still sitting inside with some friends. Officer Lane handcuffed Floyd and tried to walk him over from his own car to the squad car.
On the way, Floyd stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told officers he was claustrophobic. As officers tried to get him inside the car, he told them he couldn’t breathe. Then, the criminal complaint says Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the squad car and laid him face down, with his hands cuffed together. Officer Keung held Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs, and Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.
When Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe,” the officers responded, “You’re talking fine.”
Floyd’s death is only the most recent spark to the tension that’s been building for centuries in the black community. Protesters spoke out against police brutality and a racist American system in general, on top of their demonstrations honoring George Floyd.