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Washington pot shops call on the state to improve protection from violent robberies

Tom Bout, founder of the Cannabis Professionals Network, counted more than 30 cannabis shop robberies since November, 2021.

SEATTLE — There have been dozens of cannabis shop robberies in the last few months in western Washington.

Some cannabis shop owners feel the state is not doing enough to protect their businesses.

On Jan. 19, four armed men in masks burst into Green Lady Marijuana in Lynnwood, forcing the employees to the ground before making off with $6,000 in cash and $2,000 in product. 

Assistant manager Monique Conrad spoke with KING 5 shortly after the robbery.

"There's been a lot of robberies and a lot of shootings in dispensaries in the last couple months,” Conrad said.

Tom Bout, the founder of the Cannabis Professionals Network, made a spreadsheet tracking the crimes he could find records for.

"I think that people would be shocked to learn how frequent these pot shops have been hit over the last three months,” Bout said.

He counted more than 30 crimes since November 2021.

"I can tell you that there is risk involved with marijuana retail stores ... their business is essentially a cash-only business,” said Brian Smith, spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The board has been working to communicate safety guidelines with business owners.

Bout said that's not enough.

"They have not communicated with the stores. Like, you'd think that they would put on an alert to let everyone know that this has happened,” he said.

Since law enforcement agencies handle the robberies, the Liquor and Cannabis Board said it is not always notified when a crime happens.

"This is a criminal thing that local law enforcement handles. The Liquor and Cannabis Board is an administrative body, we licensed them,” Smith said.

Bout says he "kind of" understands that, but believes they should be more proactive.

"I don't think that they should be sitting back waiting for it. They should be figuring out a way to be more proactive. You know what I mean? Instead of waiting for it to come to them, they should be figuring out a way to fix it,” Bout said.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board said it is communicating these safety tips with cannabis retailers: 

  • Hire armed security guards
  • Make frequent cash deposits so there isn't much cash available in shops
  • Post signs in businesses explaining that staff don't have access to much cash
  • Clearly communicate safety guidelines with staff so they know what to do in the event of a robbery.