Frustrated by what they say was a lack of police response during a weekend of unrest and theft, the owners of Oakland’s pot dispensaries are pulling together to demand better protection from the city.
Pot dispensary owners say nine of the city’s 10 dispensaries were broken into with little police intervention.
“For them to sit and not address a call for six hours as 30-40 cars are rolling through dispensaries, dragging 800-pound safes out to the street over the course of hours and nobody responds – we were absolutely hung out to dry,” said Kevin Ahasey, owner of ECO Cannabis.
He and his colleagues say dispensaries are especially vulnerable because they do so much business in cash.
“Some dispensary owners that got robbed on Saturday had no clue that dispensaries were broken into on Friday,” he said. That is why owners are joining together to lobby the city.
“Our frustration is, we’re paying 20 times the amount of business tax than any other businesses,” said Ahasey. Cannabis businesses in Oakland pay nearly 10% in taxes. “A lot of that money goes to the police department and we need dedicated patrols for dispensaries. We were left out to dry.”
He says it is wrong that their calls for help went unanswered for hours, especially when cannabis businesses have to operate with a lot of cash by necessity, similar to banks. Ahasey argues that the difference in the tax rate is an implicit admission that cannabis businesses are different from their neighbors.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told KCBS Radio that this is one of many considerations to make as the city reevaluates the role of police.