A Seattle dispensary manager got the best of two armed robbers without even having to leave his couch. Damon Martinez was at home Sunday night watching live security camera footage from his dispensary Have a Heart in North Seattle when he saw two gunmen enter the establishment.
The masked robbers held the collective’s security guard at gunpoint to gain entry to the closing store, then restrained two employees before breaking into the safe. “They zip-tied the workers and terrified them and put a gun in their face,” Martinez told Leafly. “It was a horrible situation.”
Since Martinez was watching from home, he was free to call the Seattle Police Department while the robbery was still underway. “The police were amazing and were here within a few minutes,” he said. “I did a play-by-play for them on which rooms they were in and when they were exiting, so [officers] could be prepared to make arrests when it happened… We coordinated, and they turned off all the lights and the guys walked right into their damn hands.”
Martinez and his employees were lucky that everything went about as smoothly for them as an armed robbery can go. But the incident points to a larger problems for cannabis businesses: federal banking restrictions. Most dispensaries are cash businesses and this, of course, attracts robberies. Have a Heart only foiled its would-be thieves because of the extra-careful safety precautions the store takes such as an armed guard who walks the perimeter of the store and a manager watching a live feed of the security cameras.
This wasn’t even the first time the dispensary had been the target of criminals. An attempted burglary took place at the same location only the week before. The problem is widespread throughout the country. Los Angeles saw a dispensary robbery perpetrated with an assault rifle and body armour earlier this summer that resulted in two employees being shop, and a security guard at a pot shop in Aurora, Colorado was killed during a robbery earlier this year.
But there is promise of change for banking in the cannabis industry. Washington congressman U.S. Rep. Denny Heck is scheduled to meet with state officials this week to try to loosen restrictions on banking interactions with cannabis businesses.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot