Last summer, during the protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, legal cannabis companies in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., Repeatedly described break-ins by victims and authorities as organized break-in teams.
Although police made some arrests, a year and a half later, instead of being deterred, thieves seem encouraged. In the past two weeks, at least 25 cannabis companies – including retail stores and cultivation and distribution centers – have been burgled in Oakland alone, causing over $ 5 million in damage.
And according to outraged and robbed cannabis business owners, the police are promoting this crime wave by not responding to burglary reports – they don’t come until hours later to ask owners to file a police report, if they react at all – or at least in a recorded case that Apparently stood by and watched as unarmed thieves blindly rob a legal marijuana shop.
“The cannabis business is under attack,” Amber Senter, a leading cannabis entrepreneur and social justice advocate in Oakland, said in an interview. One of Sender’s companies was also broken into, she said.
And the police “let it happen,” she added.
After a series of break-ins and at least one example of cops watching as Californians … [+]
Senter on Monday led calls for tax breaks and increased police presence for legal marijuana companies, which pay the highest city and state taxes of any trader in the city. In addition to high state sales and excise taxes, a local tax levied on several hundred Oakland marijuana businesses pays an additional $ 14 million into the city’s coffers annually, according to household figures.
With such an investment, marijuana companies expect a return in the form of city services like police protection. You have one point – providing security is one of the most fundamental functions of a state.
In the meantime, a serious question arises: what is wrong with the police?
In the early hours of November 16, a neighbor called 911 to report a break-in at Bay Area Safe Alternatives, a long-time cannabis dispensary in San Francisco.
Video surveillance footage made available to the police, politicians and local media showed that the San Francisco police reacted to the crime scene – and then “stood by” and watched as at least three suspected intruders filled a bag with goods in which they were piled a getaway car, and then politely made a three-point turn before driving away.
The city’s mayor and other authorities declined to comment, citing an investigation pending. But, as police experts told the San Francisco Chronicle, this incident shows every indication of an organized non-interference order – an analysis shared by cannabis industry insiders.
“This is a very obvious ‘we’re doing nothing,'” said a San Francisco cannabis executive who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.
Authorities in San Francisco and Oakland claim their cities were hit by crime in the final stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In San Francisco, for example, luxury retailers in the posh shopping street in Union Square like Louis Vuitton have been hit by brazen “mob-style” break-ins. But in this case the police have made arrests – and Mayor London Breed has made cracking down on this lawlessness a city priority.
Pedestrians walk past the Louis Vuitton store in the Macy’s I. Magnin Building in San Francisco, California. … [+]
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images
By comparison, the response to the problems facing the cannabis business has been bizarrely subdued, say critics like Senter.
In an email, an Oakland police spokesman confirmed that the department had received at least 20 reports of marijuana company break-ins since mid-November when the San Francisco pharmacy was robbed.
“We are aware of at least 20 cannabis operations that involved a break-in or attempt [sic] Burglary was made last week, ”wrote spokesman Paul Chambers.
Chambers did not provide any response times or arrests. He also ignored rumors of at least one break-in shooting.
In the absence of an explanation from the police, some theories behind this pattern of behavior emerged in interviews.
One is that the police are simply not familiar with the legal use and sale of cannabis, a formerly illegal drug that has been populating arrest statistics for decades – and that non-interference is a form of protest.
With that in mind, another theory put forward by Senter and other critics is that cops who are hurt with injured pride following the protests by George Floyd and calls to defeat the police, simply respond by stepping back.
According to Tariq Alazraie, the owner of BASA, the police may be afraid to cooperate with possibly armed thieves for fear of being prosecuted in the event of a fatal shootout, he said in an interview. (It should be noted that progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is about to be recalled in June – and the cops absolutely don’t like him. In that theory, they may be trying to instill a sense of lawlessness in voters, which in turn is Boudin punish instead of the police.)
Another theory – perhaps the most accommodating – is that cops, like the rest of us, are overwhelmed and freaked out and thus paralyzed in inactivity.
Though crime “persists” across California[ed] historically low in fall 2020, ”as the Public Policy Institute of California noted, something seems to have turned in 2021, at least according to Oakland police.
Maybe it was the end of pandemic unemployment benefits, maybe it was the end of stimulus spending, or maybe it was exhaustion from masking, social distancing, and closed business. Whatever the cause, violent crime – armed robbery and carjacking and homicides – has risen sharply in Oakland over the past year, the OPD said at a September press conference.
For his part, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has sought help from the city council, claiming that his force is simply being overwhelmed by an unprecedented and relentless wave of violent crime that has swept everyone, not just cannabis companies.
“Aside from politics, whether you support the police or not, there is a clear problem in this city,” he said earlier this month, according to the Chronicle of San Francisco. “Nobody should have to go through this.”
It’s not clear what Armstrong needs or wants to get the mess under control. The newspaper noted that Oakland City Council recently voted to increase the police budget to $ 336 million annually – just over one-sixth of the city’s annual spending of $ 1.7 billion.
At a press conference on Monday, Senter called for a two-year immediate tax break for marijuana companies. In Oakland, some elected officials have recognized this reality and responded to the call. In an Instagram post, councilor Rebecca Kaplan promised to put in place a tax-cutting move that the legal industry has said for years eliminates its profits and boosts the illegal market – which, if this condition continues, could be all that Remaining in California shortly.