Crime Wave Hits Pot Retailers

Marijuana is getting linked to worsening crime, but this illegality is not of the “Reefer Madness” variety, whereby stoned youngsters embark on crazed killing and robbing sprees. That’s a debunked caricature.

Instead, the victims of this crime wave are the actual purveyors of marijuana.

Amid a surge in criminal attacks against pot dispensaries throughout the U.S., a leading marijuana advocacy group is providing the industry with safety and legal guidelines on how to prevent and respond to the onslaught.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) developed its Robbery Preparedness Guide in response to a flurry in recent months of burglaries and armed robberies against marijuana dispensaries. Reports are flooding local, state and federal law enforcement agencies about break-ins and hold-ups at pot retail establishments.

ASA stated: “We know this is an issue nationwide, and we want to do our part to help ensure that all dispensaries remain secure, their staff and patients feel safe, and that products continue to be available.

“No one wants to think about robberies and burglaries, but they are a reality for all businesses, particularly retail operators. Even if your staff or fellow employees are not talking about robberies, they are thinking about them. Most robberies are premeditated and depend on an element of surprise and confrontation. This means that robbers are looking for weaknesses in a business’ security that would make the operation a tempting target.”

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The marijuana crime wave is bolstering the arguments of lawmakers in Congress who say banking reform is a must for the cannabis industry. Because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, many bankers are wary of lending money to canna-businesses. That means many marijuana companies, especially retailers, must conduct business on a cash basis, which makes them vulnerable to criminals.

Cannabis entrepreneurs report feeling unsafe in the daily performance of their business duties, because they’re often compelled to transport large bags of cash from retail outlets to their respective banking institutions. They’ve become sitting ducks.

According to recent data from cannabis holding company SIVA Enterprises, one in every two cannabis dispensaries is robbed or burglarized, which is a shocking statistic. The following infographic depicts the monetary extent of the problem:

Source: SIVA Enterprises

The U.S. House already has passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which is designed to protect banks that accept marijuana business clients from being penalized by federal regulators. The SAFE Banking Act still requires the approval of the U.S. Senate and President Biden to become law.

SAFE would help solve the marijuana industry’s cash woes, by allowing canna-businesses freer access to financial services. Without access to banking, marijuana operations lack the ability to get loans, process credit card payments, deposit cash, write checks to suppliers, and other functions they need to perform to remain viable businesses.

SAFE also would undercut the growing black market in marijuana sales and improve the industry’s financial transparency in legal cannabis states. The black market in marijuana continues to thrive around the world, impeding the legal industry’s growth potential.

Illegal purveyors of weed are adept at rapidly shifting tactics and tailoring their products to customer tastes. They don’t pay taxes, so their products are cheaper than the taxed and regulated products available in legal markets.

It’s my contention that SAFE will eventually pass, although continuing political strife in Washington, DC makes the timing of passage hard to pin down.

In the meantime, the marijuana “green rush” continues apace. The time to buy pot stocks is now, ahead of SAFE’s enactment. When the bill becomes law, marijuana equities are likely to explode on the upside.

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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily. To subscribe to John’s video channel, follow this link.