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Legal Cannabis Businesses Are Preparing To Get Robbed Again

Still reeling from a spree of what appeared to be organized burglaries a month ago, cannabis businesses across California are preparing to get robbed again over the July 4 holiday weekend.

Over the weekend of May 29 to June 1, thieves burglarized cannabis dispensaries, distribution centers, and cultivation in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities, relieving legal commercial cannabis operations of cash and product.

In several documented instances, break-in crews paid repeated visits to dispensaries, breaking in night after night. In nearly every instance, police—ostensibly busy squaring off against protesters, and whose budgets directly benefit from cannabis legalization—were powerless to stop or even discourage the robberies.

Without law enforcement protection, marijuana businesses hired extra armed security, and spraypainted Second Amendment warnings on the plywood covering broken windows.

Law enforcement’s failure to protect cannabis businesses—even after they’d been burglarized once, twice, or, in the case of at least one San Francisco dispensary, BASA, four times—is shaking faith in marijuana legalization as a social experiment. Cannabis businesses pay possibly the highest taxes of any merchants in California. With state and local sales taxes as well as cultivation and excise taxes, the tax bill for legal weed in some cities exceeds 40 percent—a steep cost of doing business that, some merchants say, still doesn’t earn legal cannabis any state protection.

And now, rumors of a second wave of dispensary robberies this weekend—and significant doubts that police will be able (or willing) to respond—are leading cannabis entrepreneurs to prepare defend their businesses by themselves. This in in turn is casting doubt on the value, and the long-term viability, of legalization.

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