Budtenders Arm Themselves As Gunmen Target Cannabis Dispensaries – Forbes

Cannabis retailers have been arming themselves in the wake of robberies of dispensaries in Oregon and Oklahoma that left two people shot dead.

Thousands of medical marijuana dispensaries have popped up in Oklahoma since voters legalized medical cannabis in 2018. Two men from Kansas were arrested last month on suspicion of committing a string of robberies at dispensaries in Oklahoma City, Guthrie and Perry.

The Oklahoma robbery spree turned deadly on April 30, when a suspected armed robber was shot dead in Ardmore by an employee at the Highest Choice, a dispensary in a strip mall that includes a gun shop.

“It was one of our employees who was able to act fast,” said Eric, a co-owner of the Highest Choice who identified himself only by his first name. “The situation presented itself and it was handled accordingly. If they present their weapon, you have every right to shoot them dead.”

mortally wounded a man who entered the dispensary and pulled a knife when he was refused service.

A series of dispensary robberies in Portland, Oregon, where adult-use cannabis was legalized in 2014, turned deadly in December 2020 when budtender Michael Arthur, the father of a 6-year-old, was killed at Cured Green. It was the culmination of a dramatic spike in thefts at dispensaries in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. Dispensary thefts more than doubled to 99 in 2020, according to Jesse Bontecou, co-director of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, compared to 46 thefts in 2019, 46 in 2018 and 34 in 2017.

Dispensaries are tempting targets for criminals because the weed can be resold in states where it’s illegal and the stores tend to hold large amounts of cash. Even if a state has legalized marijuana, it’s still classified as an illegal Schedule I

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