State cannabis industry asks local leaders for help after deadly robberies

Mar 25, 2022, 8:07 AM
cannabis, marijuana...
Mike Medina (L) waits for a free joint after attending the Joints4Jabs COVID-19 vaccination clinic, hosted by Pliable, at the Uncle Ike's White Center cannabis shop on June 16, 2021, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

After a huge increase in armed robberies at local pot stores, and numerous deaths, the state cannabis industry says it is desperate for help.

‘High’ frequency in armed robberies at pot shops in Puget Sound region

The Craft Cannabis Coalition, which represents more than 50 cannabis retail stores in Washington, is asking state and county level leaders for help after an uptick in armed robberies of pot shops. Three fatalities were connected to pot shop robberies in Western Washington last week alone.

Adán Espino Jr., executive director of the coalition, says an informal count shows there have been 77 robberies since January. The group sent a letter to legislators in Olympia, as well as officials in King County, and other local elected officials and law enforcement leaders, asking for urgent action.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Espino told KIRO Newsradio. “How many more people need to be shot and killed before we take action?”

“It’s really hard to run a business when you have the prospect of being robbed almost any time,” he added. “These robberies, they have been spiking very recently, of course, but they’re getting incredibly violent.”

Espino says it’s time to change the longstanding issue that makes cannabis retailers sitting targets.

“If we weren’t dealing exclusively in cash, I’m confident in saying that would solve the bulk of our problems,” he said.

He says federal lawmakers have refused to take marijuana off the list of illegal drugs, so most banks and credit card companies won’t work with pot stores. Now, most are cash only, and Espino thinks allowing credit or debit transactions would alleviate a lot of the issues the industry is facing, including robberies.

Meanwhile, some stores have decided to bring in armed security, but Espino says that isn’t sustainable in the long run because of the cost.

“Stores are feeling like they need to hire armed security to literally, potentially shoot it out with folks trying to rob their stores,” he noted.

“What we’re asking for is help. We’re asking for the community to pay attention and not ignore this. We’re asking for lawmakers and policymakers to not ignore this,” he said, offering a suggestion that, “There could be a tax exemption to help stores cover the high cost of security.”

Washington treasurer pushes Congress for solution to rash of violent pot shop robberies

Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he went to lobby for legal reforms to help marijuana sellers. He said Congress cannot delay in passing cannabis banking reforms any longer.

KIRO Newsradio’s Chris Martin contributed to this report.

Local News

Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

Half of Tacoma’s homicide victims under 18; city and youth programs hoping for change

Flemming de Sandoval says in order to fix this issue, they have to listen to the youth and provide the right resources for them.
16 hours ago
milwaukee park...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Man arrested after police respond to shooting near Milwaukee Park in Pacific

According to police, officers were called to an area near the park at 522 Milwaukee Blvd. S. for a shooting around 2:45 p.m.
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Man charged with murder in deaths of missing mom, girl

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The man named as a person of interest in the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter was charged with two counts of murder in their deaths, police in Washington state said Friday. Detectives from the Vancouver Police Department booked Kirkland Warren for two counts of first-degree murder Friday after […]
2 days ago
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Manufactured roadblocks lead to attempted kidnapping in Pierce County

The woman described the suspect as a Hispanic male between 20 and 30 years of age. He is approximately 5-foot-7.
2 days ago
human trafficking...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

Vashon Island man arrested on ten federal charges related to human trafficking

According to the media release, Ruiz-Hernandez used force, threats of force, and physical violence to force an adult to work for him.
2 days ago
the last of us...
Frank Sumrall

‘The Last of Us’ Season 2, set in Seattle, to be filmed in BC

The series premiere was watched by 4.7 million viewers on the first day it was released — the second-biggest for HBO since 2010.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
State cannabis industry asks local leaders for help after deadly robberies