Over the last week protests have been sweeping the United States in response to the death of George Floyd, a man murdered while handcuffed and in police custody in Minnesota. All 4 officers involved in the fatal arrest of George Floyd have been charged and are in police custody. Derek Chauvin, the officer who violently pressed his knee on Floyd's neck which ultimately led to his death, is facing upgraded charges of second degree murder (his initial warrant was for unintentional homicide). The other three officers have been charged with being accessories to murder, with the possibility of upgraded charges on the way.
Before any of the officers were actually arrested, a video of the arrest and death of Floyd was posted on the internet and quickly swept the globe. When people saw exactly what had transpired, outrage quickly followed and led to what can be described as some of the most significant civil unrest the country has ever seen, only to be compared to the L.A. riots of 1992. While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, there have been a small handful of instances of looting. One of the industries being heavily targeted is the recreational marijuana market, due to the fact that shops have large amounts of product and cash on site everyday.
As of this morning, more than 43 cannabis dispensaries in the US (California and Oregon, specifically) have been broken into and completely destroyed. Businesses are still assessing the damage, but it is thought to be in the millions of dollars between physical damage to the stores as well as total product lost.
One of the largest cannabis retailers in the U.S., MedMen Enterprises, has made the decision to temporarily close all of their locations nationwide until further notice. This decision was made in response to three of their California locations being destroyed in the wake of the protests this week.
Another popular cannabis brand and dispensary, Cookies, owned by rapper and long time cannabis scene veteran Berner (real name Gilbert Anthony Milam Jr.) was hit hard and the rapper was quick to make a statement on social media.
"It's extremely unfortunate what happened to our store tonight on Melrose. But as a human living in the world we're living in today, I cannot expect anything less until justice is served. We can rebuild our store, but you cannot bring someone back to life. With that being said, we stand with what is going on right now in the world. A statement needed to be made. All I say is, I pray everyone stays safe and protects their family in a time like this. How can I worry about a store when there is so much more going on 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."
Despite the fact that Berner had hired six armed guards to watch the store during the riots, he told them not to be violent towards the protestors and that he was more concerned with making sure no one got hurt (some of his followers have speculated that he is banking on insurance reimbursements, a claim that Berner has vehemently denied).
Another celebrity shop owner and rapper, B Real, partner of Berner, made his own statement in the wake of the looting.
"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."
Despite this recent chaos and looting, the cannabis industry in America as a whole has been remarkably prosperous during the COVID-19 pandemic and shop owners are hopeful that the year will only get better as things slowly return to normal. Several new pieces of legislation have made their way to congress with the hope of granting cannabis businesses access to the banking system as well as allowing scientists to finally conduct full-scale research into the effects of THC and CBD on the human body, which could ultimately lead to the legalization of marijuana at the federal level.
This is no doubt a challenging time for America and its citizens, but one can hope that the peaceful side of these protests will finally get their message across and effect long lasting change.
Here is a current list of the shops that were looted over the last week:
- Cookies Oakland & Melrose
- Both Urbanas, SF
- Magnolia Oakland
- California Street, SF
- Grass Roots, SF
- Medithrive SF
- Green Cross SF
- Bryant Street club
- MedMen West Hollywood
- MedMen Downtown LA
- VHHC Vallejo
- LA Kush
- Sweet Flower
- ECO Cannabis
- Harborside Health Center
- Oakland Organics
- BASA Collective
- Blunts + Moore
- California Street Cannabis Company
- Connected San Francisco
- Dr. Greenthumb
- Dutchman's Flat
- Moe Greens
- The Apothecarium Castro
- The Pottery