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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bumbling Marijuana Dispensary Bandits 'Left a Trail of Spilled Weed Out the Door'

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 7:25 AM

The costumes may yet give them away...
  • The costumes may yet give them away...

A Richmond District medical cannabis dispensary was robbed last Friday (when else?) by a pair of assailants, who made off with less than $1,000 worth of cash and leafy green medicine, dispensary staff told SF Weekly on Monday.

The club, the Hemp Center at 4811 Geary Boulevard, is the first pot club to be robbed in San Francisco this year -- and perhaps much longer than that. SF Weekly couldn't pinpoint any from 2009, and when asked, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman could not name a more recent incident. But that wasn't the focus of the robbery's mention in the San Francisco Examiner . The "armed brutes" held up the store with "an uzi and a handgun," but Reefer Madness luckily didn't prevail -- the "violent pothead robbers ... didn't smoke anyone," the newspaper reported.

Sounds bad -- and it was. For the bad guys. "They left a trail of [spilled] weed out the door," said the dispensary's manager on duty during the incident.

He spoke to SF Weekly on condition of anonymity, though he spoke with the blessing of dispensary owner Kathleen Lemons. "I've told the story to a couple of my buddies, and they're like, 'You're shitting me.' It was more like a comedy act than a robbery."

According to the manager, the "nervous" suspects nabbed less than $200 in cash from one of the dispensary's two registers, leaving the other, more cash-laden register six feet away untouched. And rather than ask employees to open the safe or hand over one of the containers of the 20 or so varieties of bud behind glass, the robbers instead grabbed two open containers of bud off of the counter (Jack Herer and Sour Diesel were the varieties nabbed, if you must know), spilling some in the process before fleeing.

Friday's robbers didn't get much of either of these green substances, it would seem
  • Friday's robbers didn't get much of either of these green substances, it would seem

Petty cash in hand (less than what a trimmer earns in an afternoon in Humboldt County), they left a trail of spilled bud on their way out the door, most of which the dispensary was able to recover. You may be smoking it now.

The incident occurred a half hour before close of business on Friday, and the dispensary opened as normal on Saturday morning (which might account for the Examiner reporting "Employees at the Hemp Center located on that block deny being robbed.")

There are tales floating around the medical cannabis community of pro-style robbers who pose as patients, casing a dispensary over weeks or months before striking, emptying safes and filling bags with bud on their way out. The staff took this armed robbery seriously, adhering to training which instructs "budtenders" and security to act like bank tellers: Don't make eye contact, comply with demands, and, above all, don't try anything heroic. Nevertheless, dispensary staff did take issue with the way the robbery was reported.

"The whole incident lasted no longer than a minute," the manager said. ""It got blown a little bit out of proportion; this definitely wasn't a professional job."

The entire escapade was captured on the dispensary's video surveillance, which is now being studied by police.

"I couldn't ID them," the manager said, noting that one bad guy had a mask on and the other kept his head down. "But they'd definitely never been here before -- the way they acted, it was their first time in the place."

"We took it seriously at the time," he added, "but now that it's over and no one got hurt, it's like, 'were those guys serious?'"

No arrests have been made yet in the case by the San Francisco Police Department, which are taking this seriously, according to police spokesman Sergeant Mike Andraychuk. No official description of the suspects was released, but if there's a dude with a mask at the end of a trail of bud, we may have our man. If only all police work were so easy.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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