- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Marijuana dispensaries in several states are temporarily closing their doors to customers after being looted and vandalized amid unrest sparked by the recent death of George Floyd.

MedMen, a publicly traded company that operates more than 30 medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries spanning six states, said Monday that all of its stores are indefinitely closed after several of its shops in southern California were looted over the weekend.

Cresco Labs, another publicly traded company with dispensaries in six states as well, said that it has temporarily closed three of its locations in Illinois after its newly opened storefront in Chicago’s River North neighborhood — the Windy City’s first recreational dispensary — was vandalized Saturday night.

The dispensaries — which are legal under state law but federally prohibited — are among countless retailers around the country ravaged amid the unrest sparked by the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

Dozens of dispensaries in California and Oregon were either vandalized, ransacked or looted over the weekend, marijuana website Leafly reported Monday, including several MedMen locations in the Los Angeles area that were brazenly broken into and robbed while onlookers recorded video footage shared widely on social media.

“Effective immediately, we are temporarily closing all stores and the corporate office to protect the safety of our employees,” MedMen announced in an internal memo following the looting, the Marijuana Moment website reported Monday.

“The safety of everyone in the MedMen family is the most important thing right now, and we are grateful to report that while our stores were damaged, our employees and security guards were unharmed.”

Cresco confirmed to The Washington Times that it closed three of its “Sunnyside” dispensaries around Chicago after one of them was hit over the weekend but not robbed, meanwhile.

“Our River North store was one of the many stores that had shattered windows and was vandalized but we didn’t experience a major loss as the looters were unable to penetrate our vault or gain access to cannabis products,” Cresco spokesperson Jason Erkes told The Times.

“All of the inventory in our River North, Elmwood Park and Lakeview Sunnyside stores has been temporarily removed to a state-licensed and secure facility as the safety of our staff and maintaining control of our regulated product continues to be our top priority. We will work with law enforcement and state regulators to determine a safe timeline to reopen,” Mr. Erkes added.

MedMen did not immediately return a message requesting further details about its nationwide closures.

Other marijuana dispensaries notably looted over the weekend include Cookies, a Los Angeles pot shop owned by the rapper Berner, and Pure Oasis, a black-owned business in Boston that recently became the city’s first recreational weed retailer.

“It’s extremely unfortunate what happened to our store tonight on Melrose,” said Berner, whose real name is Gilbert Anthony Milam Jr. “But as a human living in the world we’re living in today, I cannot expect anything less until justice is served. We can rebuild our store, but you cannot bring someone back to life.”

Across the country, a co-owner of Pure Oasis said Boston’s first retail dispensary was robbed of around $100,000 worth of inventory, the city’s local CBS affiliate reported Tuesday.

Thirty-three states have passed laws legalizing marijuana to different degrees, notwithstanding the plant remaining the subject of longstanding federal prohibition.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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