Back in May, many Americans watched in horror as a white police officer killed a black man by kneeling on his neck. This man’s name was George Floyd and his murder has led to a massive period of civil unrest in our already hurting country. Many people over the past few months have been calling for sweeping police reforms and a more fair and balanced system that does not target black Americans and other people of color. Even at the time of writing this article there are still protests erupting around the nation and we have a long road to healing for all of us.
Right after the horrific events in Minneapolis, many cities broke out into intense protests that quickly evolved into riots. People of all colors and backgrounds rose and crowded the streets to protest the broken justice system that often wrongfully targets men and women of color. Many people were extremely angry, but for the most part, rallies were peaceful. However, opportunists were hiding amongst the peaceful protesters. These opportunistic predators took advantage of the chaos before them and used it as cover. Looting and theft became the motivation for these individuals and they often targeted dispensaries and cannabis shops. Many of the places robbed during these tense first few days were hit by professional thieves using the BLM protests and the pandemic as the perfect cover.
Why Target Dispensaries and Cannabis Shops?
As with most horrible things that happen in the world the main reason for attacking dispensaries and cannabis shops is money. Despite being legal in many states weed still sells fantastically on the black market. Furthermore, there is never a shortage of people who will buy cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Essentially, if you can get it for free then whatever you make off of it is profit. It is also safe to assume that most of the thieves breaking into these shops would gladly use the products themselves as well. Dispensaries and cannabis shops make a great target for professional thieves as they are already operating in a legal gray area. Many cannabis shops are cash only and many banks will not accept their cash, which means there could be a sizable amount of it on the premises. These qualities make them an appealing target for opportunists and professional thieves alike.
Who Was Ransacked?
Dispensaries across the country have been impacted by these riots. Many cannabis shops in major cities throughout California, Chicago, and Philadelphia were forced to close their doors when looters took everything from them. Some have even said that over 2 million in damages were done to their business. A few of those that were not hit so hard have already begun to reopen their doors while many others are still closed and trying to recover. Each situation is different with many insurance companies refusing to cover these businesses.
Businesses have insurance for a variety of reasons. The most common are protecting the business, its employees, and its customers. In the wake of these looters found in the protests, many dispensaries and cannabis shops filed claims with their insurance providers. However, some insurance companies have said that business policies do not cover civil unrest. To further complicate the issue some dispensaries were not able to acquire insurance due to the legal gray area that they fit into. This means that many dispensaries and cannabis shops are looking at paying for security upgrades and repairs out of pocket. The ones who have insurance have said “They’re doing everything they can to avoid paying,” telling us his insurance company accused them of fraud. “They’re just playing games with us.”
It is hard to imagine that there would be a silver lining in this scenario but there is. Some marijuana retailers have feared they would lose everything and have to start from the ground up all over again. What they did not expect was the overwhelming response from their supporters and the fellow cannabis community. One retailer even said, “I suffered a total loss, but with the help from the cannabis community and some close friends I am almost back on my feet.” He even went on to say that this whole situation has been a “blessing in disguise.” It will take more time, but the cannabis industry already reeling from the pandemic and wildfires is sure to recover in the face of looters. Many are optimistic that the toughest of times are behind them.