“Our shop can be rebuilt, but the black lives taken by the police, again and again, are gone forever,” wrote operator of the dispensary Magnolia Wellness Debby Goldsberry on Facebook this week.
Though criticized for its lack of inclusion of black-owned companies, The marijuana industry has largely shown its support of the protests, joining arenas of commerce such as Beauty, Retail and Food in condemning systemic racism, even empathizing with the destruction as a result of the murder of George Floyd, what has also been said to be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, tensions overflowing over racial injustice flooding into the streets all over the world. Loss of product, money, and damaged property is not exactly what is on everyone’s minds at the moment. The consensus is that to remain silent is not enough, and these companies have quickly stepped up to voice their allegiances to the Black Lives Matter Movement through the airing of poignant commercials and slogans, as well as through sizeable donations to different Black charities and organizations such as the NAACP, as well as to the family of George Floyd.
“When things really started escalating last night, I said to myself ‘We are going to lose a store tonight,’” he wrote. Shlenker added that he was upset, “but not at protestors or looters… I am angry that a group of police officers sat idly by while one of their own murdered George Floyd by standing on his neck for nearly 10 minutes,” he said.
In terms of the fire damage sustained by many businesses, looters initially seemed to focus on large corporations such as Target in the riots that initially ensued following the tragic murderof George Floyd.
From Vicente Sederberg, a law firm which specializes in the marijuana industry, Attorney Adam Fine stated events such as riots and protests could be considered “Acts of God.”
“Even if they have those policies, there may be exclusions for these types of events,” he told THCnet. “It is likely that some of the businesses that have been impacted will have little recourse.”
Unfortunately, there were black owned businesses that got caught up in the fray, such as Pure Oasis dispensary in Massachusetts, which was left devastated in the wake of the protests. Pure Oasis had just reopened its doors for the first day in two months since recreational shops were forced to close throughout Massachusetts this Spring, making all of the state’s near-dwindling cannabis supply solely available to medical patients. Kobie Evans, Co-owner of the shop, told the Boston Globe early this week that he remains convinced the attack on his store was no coincidence. “They were deliberate,” explained Evans of the break-in, noting their shop is well out of the way of the protests going on downtown. The thieves made their way into a closed-off back room, where they discovered and subsequently made off with about $100,000 worth of plants, products and equipment.
In Chicago, dispensaries have been closed indefinitely, as they survey the cost of their mangled properties.
Magnolia Wellness executive director Debby Goldsberry echoed this sentiment via Facebook, suggesting the attack on her own Oakland dispensary last weekend was organized, claiming “armed robbers,” not “looters” or “protestors” were responsible for the destruction. Thieves were witnessed using guns to break into the dispensary.
“We are a small, local, mostly woman operated company, with just this one small shop, and this will hit us hard,” she wrote. “We were already barely hanging on with the [COVID-19] virus and in survival mode. They did take nearly everything, as the police did not respond for nearly an hour, giving them time to breach most of our security features. They also just totally trashed the place.”
In Southern California, video accounts and photographic proof of rioters breaking into the Cookies, MedMen, and other shops shops were uploaded. Rather than admonishing the perpetrators, the owners of these dispensaries joined Kahleafa, Nectar, and others in utilizing their platforms to take on more of an ancillary role in the protests.
“To those fighting for social justice, MedMen stands with you,” their statement on Twitter reads. “The horrifying treatment of our Black colleagues and community is not acceptable. Systematic oppressions and inequality must end. We are committed to using our platform to help and support. We will rebuild and come back stronger in a way that makes our communities proud and advances justice and equality.”
“It’s extremely unfortunate what happened to our store tonight on Melrose, but as a human living in the world we are living in today, I cannot expect anything less until justice is served,” the rapper said in a video message. “We can rebuild our store, but you cannot bring someone back to life.”