Washington cannabis retailers pushing for law that would protect them from robberies

OLYMPIA, Wash – Citing a rise in robberies of legal cannabis businesses in the state, Washington business owners that deal with legal cannabis are pushing for a law that would better protect their businesses and employees.

While cannabis businesses aren’t required to report robberies to the state, an industry representative told a House committee Friday that the incidents are happening “every day, sometimes multiple times a day.”

Republican Jim Honeyford is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 5927. 

He spoke of the vulnerability of cannabis retailers to theft.

“They have to deal with cash and they’re very vulnerable, that’s why I urge adoption of this bill,” Rep. Honeyford said.

Cannabis retailers deal in cash because federal law still prohibits marijuana. That means banks won’t deal with the businesses, even though they’re legal in many states.

Brooke Davies spoke on behalf of the Washington Cannabusiness Association. She said her organization keeps a spreadsheet of robberies at cannabis businesses throughout Washington and noticed a rise in recent months.

It’s a sentiment that was echoed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Chris Thompson, Director of Legislative Relations for WSLCB, said the incidents are “disturbing and they appear to be on the rise.”

“Until we get federal banking reform,” Thompson said, “these businesses are uniquely vulnerable.”

SB 5927 has already passed the Senate unanimously and is now in committee in the House.

It requires retail outlets to report any robbery or attempted robbery to the WSLCB within 10 days. It also increases the penalty for robbing a cannabis outlet.