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What's behind the rise in marijuana dispensary break-ins?

Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 06:59:59-05

An alarming trend of break-ins at marijuana dispensaries across metro Detroit and the State of Michigan is continuing, and employees say more needs to be done to prevent them.

Just in the last two weeks, marijuana dispensaries on Detroit's east side have been targeted in the middle of the night.

Earlier this year, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged a dozen people responsible for 20 break-ins at dispensaries across Michigan, and employees want more protection.

"It's a symptom of what's happening nationally, and something needs to be done," Brian Hana from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Committee said.

"I don't know if there's going to be a way to stop this and I don't know where it does stop," one course told us.

Detroit police say since January, there have been 20 incidents involving marijuana dispensaries. Of those, 16 were burglaries and four were larcenies.

Cloud 9 Cannabis on Detroit's east side was one of the latest dispensaries to be targeted.

Suspects rammed an SUV into the side of the building and two armed suspects confronted the security guard in his car before carrying out two safes. Police are still searching for them.

The most recent one happened earlier this week at LIV Cannabis on Jefferson. The first one was two weeks ago when armed suspects cased the building and even tried to break in the back door.

They appeared again Wednesday morning around 5:30 and ripped the door of the hinges and tried going through the drywall to gain access to LIV.

"They're being watched. It's an organized group that's testing them. They're doing several things to see the response," our source said.

The building's owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they broke into the scissor lift and then tried getting in through a vacant unit.

"At its core, it's more about security and safety, but not from a privatized standpoint," our source said. "Not walking around, not visible. It's disingenuous to have a security guard who is not present or sitting in their car half asleep with a light on top of their vehicle. That's not security."

Hana said without access to traditional banking and regular credit cards, dispensaries are a prime target for thieves.

"We've seen it time and time again in this state and it's a national issue anywhere you have regulated cannabis," he said.

The dispensaries have to rely on local banks, credit unions and unmarked armored trucks to transport their cash.

Hana and industry professionals are urging the federal government to pass the SAFE Banking Act which would allow marijuana retailers across the country access to federal banking institutions.