Federal Drug Laws Force Pot Shops To Carry Lots of Cash and No Insurance. Now They’re Getting Robbed.
Multiple Bay Area retailers have been hit by smash-and-grab robberies in recent weeks. Cannabis businesses have been among the hardest hit, especially those in Oakland. To make matters worse, these cannabis retailers have been further disadvantaged thanks to misguided federal drug laws.
Cannabis is legal in California but illegal under federal law. As a result, most Golden State cannabis businesses struggle to secure business services like banking and insurance. Without access to banking services, and unable to take checks, debit cards, or credit cards, these businesses are forced to operate cash-only, which makes them appealing targets for robbers. And without insurance, a business will necessarily face additional difficulties when it is robbed.
Take the case of Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt Jr., the owner and operator of Blunts and Moore, a retail cannabis business that opened in Oakland in 2018. The store was granted a license as part of the city’s Equity Permit Program, which reserves half of all cannabis business licenses for applicants who either have a marijuana conviction or live in certain heavily policed areas.
In addition to his staff, Blunt employs three armed guards, both to protect the store and to provide escort anytime an employee needs to travel with cash. If a traditional business needs to pay a bill, it could make an electronic payment, or get a certified check through its bank. But for a cannabis business that lacks access to bank services, a simple task requires needless complexity: In Blunt’s case, just paying the store’s monthly rent involves carrying cash to several different post offices to buy money orders, since each post office has a daily dollar limit for money order purchases. While Blunt says most cannabis businesses do not carry “an abundance of cash” on hand, he recognizes that mos
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