Cannabis Crime Waves Return for 2023

The cannabis industry is currently in the midst of a massive crime wave. 

In the nearly three years since thieves used the George Floyd protests as cover to kick off one of the most devastating crime waves the cannabis industry has ever seen, there have been many more. Cannabis businesses continue to be targeted. 

There are various reasons contributing to these waves, but whether it’s the economy, the giant piles of money dispensaries are forced to hoard without bank accounts, or the product that’s easy to move as cannabis continues its national popularity surge, right now is batshit. 

When I’m not writing for L.A. Weekly, I still work at a dispensary. We’ve been hit twice in the last two weeks. We are not alone. We’re hearing reports from San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Benicia and Iselton, and those are just the ones the word has gotten out on. More locally we’ve seen the city’s most prominent LGBT-owned dispensary Green Qween targeted multiple times. Cannabis companies are stuck with the catch-22 of wanting to make more noise about what they see as a lack of protection regardless of tax dollars but don’t want to wave their hands in the air basically saying, “come victimize me because I get no protection.”

And to make it even scarier for the industry, some of these groups are more reminiscent of militias than stick-up kids. Short-style AK-47s you can tuck into your pants have been seen at multiple locations. 

These crews also are beginning to get very good at it. There are believed to be a few roaming the northern part of the state from security camera footage being used to match different groups together. Sometimes they’ve made trips south for weekend-long runs at fresh targets, but for the most part, the largest organized groups seem to frequent north of Salinas up to wine country and then east all the way to the Sierras. 

The owner of The Delta Boyz dispensary in Isleton told us their facility has been hit five times and was among those targeted in the last two weeks. Things have gotten so hot in the small town located between Sacramento and the bay that he wanted to refrain from using his name for his family’s safety.

The crew pulling up.

He compared this recent crime to 2020, but noted there is a big difference. 

“It’s just, it’s not as chaotic. The atmosphere outside is not as chaotic as it was then,” he told L.A. Weekly. “So this is just very organized, dialed in, calculated. It seems this is what they do now. And these crews have been doing it for so long, it seems like they’re getting better and better at it.”

One of the times The Delta Boys got hit it took about 45 seconds for them to take $200,000.

“My dumb ass had all my rosin in one big tote. But that’s how fast they are. They were in and out in 45 seconds,” they said. “Where else are you going to steal like that? You can’t steal from a bank like that. You can’t steal it from a liquor store. You can’t steal it from a warehouse. You got to liquidate any of those. Weed is basically liquid.”

The aftermath.

He further argued he can’t go and shoot somebody as if this was the black market. 

“I have to respect the law because it’s my livelihood. This is everything I’ve ever invested all my money and time into. I can’t blast somebody. There are cameras everywhere. So it’s hard. And they know that. They know, they know we’re not. They know we’re soft targets. They know we can do shit. They know the cops aren’t coming. And it’s just routine now.”

He hopes the state will divert some of the funds it’s using against the black market to defend its legal one. He argues enforcement on black market producers has created a vacuum where they then need to sustain their demand by robbing others. 

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