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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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February 5, 2014 - 8:20 pm
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Funny thing about life. We talk about all kinds of laws, there ought to be a law for this, or that law ought to be changed. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the law of unintended consequences.

Here’s an effect of that law. Colorado has legalized pot. Pot shops tend not to attract the highest class of upwardly mobile customer. They also house a high-value material that is easily transported and sold, and they house a lot of money gained from the proceeds of selling that product. And lethargic hippies.

All of that makes for a bad combination.

One thief, posing as a delivery man, pulled a can of bear mace on employees and ransacked their marijuana shop, fleeing in a defensive cloud of “ultra-pepper” spray. Another opened the wall of a dispensary with an ax and attacked the store’s safe with a circular saw. Still another stuck to the basics. He kicked in the front door and pointed his gun at the counterman. An accomplice kicked in the back door and filled a duffel bag with more than $10,000 worth of high-quality cannabis.

For weeks now, the Mile High state has allowed the sale of recreational pot to adults, and so far the Rockies still stand. But crimes like the ones above, all of which occurred in Colorado in the last six months, have produced an acid-drip of anxiety in the industry, highlighting the dangers faced by those hoping to drag America’s most popular illegal drug into the light. Because marijuana remains banned by Congress, banks and security firms deny services to most dispensaries. That leaves them cash-based and vulnerable, a magnet for criminals who like the idea of unguarded counting rooms and shelves lined with lucrative horticulture.

More recently, however, the crimes have sent a forked bolt of fear through the industry. Last summer, for example, a trio of gunmen “demanded Weed” from the workers at a dispensary called 420 Wellness, according to documents provided by the district attorney’s office. As two of the gunmen filled “several trash bags” with award-winning marijuana, the third leapt over the counter and took a female employee by the elbow, leading her around the shop as a human insurance policy. Police caught up with that squad soon after they fled the scene, charging the ringleader with aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

But over the next six weeks, a different team of burglars hit at least eight dispensaries, and a third team is still on the loose after a stick-up at New Age Wellness in nearby Boulder County. Moments after closing time, two men dressed in baby-blue ski-masks burst in, pointed guns, and cleaned out the little mountain depot. “It’s an epidemic,” says one of the employees, who declined to give his name for safety reasons. “Everything is a lot tighter now. It isn’t so homey anymore.”

Pot tends to make users paranoid. So…

What is available suggests a troubling parallel development: as the industry has grown, its access to banking and security has declined, and crime has soared. What spurred the sudden loss of services remains a mystery, although many dispensary owners blame it on pressure from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which has called Colorado’s experiment “reckless and irresponsible.”

“It’s like they’re trying to precipitate some sort of disaster,” says Norton Arbelaez, the founder of River Rock, one the Denver’s larger dispensaries. “It’s like they think: ‘If we can precipitate some sort of public safety issue, maybe we can stop it.’”

Well, this is the government that brought us the smash hit, Fast and Furious. The current government hates letting a crisis go to waste, and isn’t above creating the crisis in the first place. Paranoia isn’t entirely unjustified.

As pot dispensary crimes have become more common — they may be hitting a 50% rate — and more violent, some shops are hiring their own small armies of security guards. That could lead to gunfights in the streets and shops, the kind that were predicted but did not follow the passage of concealed carry laws.

At least no one has been killed. Yet.

Expect that to change, says Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. Last summer he told the city council that there have been a dozen homicides “directly” related to mom-and-pop residential marijuana grows, which have been legal in the state since 2000.

The editorial page director of the Denver Post accused him of “blowing smoke,” but Morrissey is now going further, predicting a spike in “strong-arm, bank-style, mask-and-gun robberies,” as the old violence of the residential market spills into the new world of legalized marijuana from seed to sale. “You know, they say this is going to bring in tax revenue for our schools. Well, I don’t deal with that. I deal with dead bodies.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Now that pot is legal and depositing your damn proceeds in a bank is not, what did you expect?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's not like things like this never happened before legalization, why do you think drug gangs walk around armed? We're just hearing about it more now because of two factors: The first is that these crimes are actually being reported to the police, it's rather difficult to report the theft of your illegal material, or the income thereof. The second is that the dispensaries are known fixed targets, making them easier to hit.

You speak a lot about the law of unintended consequences, but you seem totally ignorant of measurement bias.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would be willing to bet the DEA is doing what they can to discourage legalization. The DEA stands to lose millions, if not billions of dollars in funds if more states legalize pot and cause the White House to take a popular stance and cut back on the war on drugs.

However, I don't think that Obama is at the root of the DEA pressure. It is Democrats that are pushing legalization right now, and Obama needs Democrat support if he wants to enshrine his legacy achievement, Obamacare.

As for the gangs themselves, I am willing to bet that they were around before selling pot and now face a loss in revenue. The legal shops threaten their business; if they cause enough pain and close down the shops then they close down competition.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (90)
All Comments   (90)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Years ago, when I was working the street dealing with dopers, drug traffickers and dealers, I had the long conversation with the libertarians and liberals who all wanted to legalize dope. They said it would reduce crime. I nearly ruptured my spleen laughing. Why? A bad guy who makes a great income doing an illegal activity isn't going to change. He isn't going to start calling his lawyer about territory infringement when another dealer shows up. He's going to thrHe's a BAD GUY!! Back then I did an article I called "peeling the onion" to explain that like an onion, the deeper you peel into the drug legalization argument the worse it smells.

http://truthandcommonsense.com/2013/04/10/peeling-the-onion-a-dope-smoker-sees-the-light-legalizing-weed-isnt-all-that/
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obviously, it's time for those who advocated legalizing pot to get on the open-carry bandwagon! C'mon, everyone!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is your theory? That since people rob marijuana stores, marijuana ought to be illegal?

Good things people never rob jewelry stores or liquor stores or banks. I'd hate to have to outlaw them too.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The point was that legalizing dope would somehow lower the crime rate. The fact they are now being robbed proves that selling point incorrect. Whether the robbery is on an illegal grow house, like what happens down here in Florida, or at a dope joint in Colorado, the crime is the crime.

It won't get better. And when the black market gets going- and it will because weed is a homegrown, home distributable product, the other argument will go south as you will see the government- protecting its revenue stream- go after them with a vengeance.

Legalizing dope will cause more people to lose their way, get sick, become less productive and in return WILL NOT fulfill the promises made by the supporters. In fact, in time we will simply replace illegal drug traffickers with black market tax evaders in prison.

That is the point.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is what happens when we have both law enforcement as a revenue stream, AND a history of selective enforcement of the law.

The point about Arizona's border should hopefully resonate with the liberals.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
No surprise!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Robber Gangs Are Terrorizing Pot Shops"

I'm confused. Why is the government terrorizing Pot Shops.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mom and Pop Pot shops threaten the local pot dealers income as does the legal larger shops.
The dealers don't like competition and will either offer protection or knee cap some shop keepers.
The law will not be in a hurry to seek out and arrest them.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
And before marijuana shops, liquor stores weren't getting robbed? Cigarette vendors? Jewellery stores? Marijuana shops don't create a new crime, the already existing crime just gets re-distributed to include the new shops.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Security cameras, bullet-proof glass, reinforced doors and locks. The solution to these problems is not complex.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spray paint to the lens or a rock to the mounted cameras. Armor penetrating bullets and lock picks or breaching shotguns.
The solution to the problems also have solution's.
Who cares if doper/dealer gets robbed and killed or maim?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Camaras can be installed in inaccessible places. Take a GOOD look about you at any bank. AP bullets are illegel and VERY hard to obtain... though these creeps probably already are prohibited persons in regarda arms. There are lamitated palstic security panels that are resistant to large caliber rifle rounds. Lock picks take a while to operate, anbd multiple locks will further slow... use different types.

As to your support of the robbery and murder this is hideous.... YOU mayn't approve of the use of marijuana, but that's YOUR problem. These people are carrying out lawful activity, work hard, and are earning a living whilst contributing rather exhorbitant tax revenues to the state for "giving them permission".
Of course one of the best solutions is for the staff of these businesses to be armed and trained. A few dead or perforated thieves will put an end to it all rather quickly. Seems there are not that many of them. Law enfrocement also need to take action, vigoruously prosecuting those in possession of weapons prohibited them, and for using them in the armed robbberies.

Part of the problem is almost certainly the long standing operation of illegal imported cartel members who are now facing the loss of their own revenue now their black market operations are rendered moot by Colorado's new laws. The "Guerrero Solution" needs to be rendered here.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
You don't know what you are talking about regarding AP bullets.

And the point is that the "activity" isn't legal - Federal law still prohibits it and that's part of the problem.

And those legit who deal in marijuana and possess firearms create great criminal liability for themselves with Feds.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
You know, you see wads and piles of cash lying around in casino's, too, but very very rarely do you see gangsta's racing in with an axe to chop through a wall to get at all that loose loot. And while casino's aren't as peaceful and laid-back as a commune of hippies, they are mostly seen as a place of enjoyment and fun, and neither law enforcement nor casino patrons seem to feel that they are particularly dangerous to be in or around.

It seems to me that this initial sturm and drang on the part of both the marijuana sellers and law enforcement is just opening-day hysteria. And that the marijuana dispensaries will sooner rather than later introduce at least the same level of protection as a pawn shop, since they *really* don't need to be as open and welcoming as an all-night 7-Eleven
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
"robbed and killed or maim?"


Why is it robbed and killed, but it's not maimed?


HINT: It is. It's "maimed", not "maim".


I used to see this particular form of ignorance from foreigners, mostly Asians. It's understandable for those who are not native English speakers.

But it's spreading. The ignorance is spreading like a cancer, and it's part of what is destroying America.



42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
funny value set on dislpay here: you chide him for his sub-par grammar, yet give him a pass on promoting theft from and murder of those operating within existing law. Can't you see the HUGE disconnect here?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or maybe I simply didn't address that subject. Please find someone who can help you understand that concept.

Then look up, "deconstructionism" to see why grammar matters.

Karl thanks you for your assistance.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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