A Marijuana Dispensary Was Not Robbed Today. Here's Why Cops Got Confused

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Who's the bad guy here?
Folks reading the news upon waking up this morning were treated to a pair of attention-grabbing headlines: a firefighter was injured fighting the blaze at a marijuana grow house in the Inner Sunset, and in the Bayview, a middle-of-the-night botched robbery of what the Chronicle called a "medical pot dispensary" led to a hostage situation.

Tongues wagged and fingers flew among the Internet commenterati, especially when it was revealed that the "pot dispensary" robbery happened at 3:50 a.m. Legal cannabis -- and now a 24-hour weed emporium? Reefer madness, right? 

The only problem is that there are no dispensaries in the Bayview. Reports around noon today were amended to reflect as much, saying the robbery occurred at a grow house, not a dispensary.

Here's how and why we, and therefore you, were briefly misled.

The alleged robbery occurred at 3:50 a.m., when police responded to reports of a gang of men in ski masks busting into a warehouse. A trio was arrested within two blocks of the incident on the 2100 block of Jennings Street in an industrial/warehouse-heavy part of Bayview. However, a fourth suspect was still inside the warehouse, where four people were held hostage. The four hostages were released about four hours later and the fourth suspect was also arrested.

SFGate.com had a front-page, above-the-rest-of-the-news headline blaring "Hostage Situation at Pot Dispensary," which is sure to get you to click. But the thing is dispensaries are banned in roughly 90 percent of San Francisco because, among other reasons, pot-haters claim those businesses breed crime -- and this would seem to be fuel for that fire, especially if a dispensary is open at 4 a.m. 

But again, there aren't dispensaries in the Bayview, and even if there were, city law says they can't operate them past 10 p.m.

This afternoon police said that the marijuana-grow operation, with roughly 1,000 plants, was legal. This means that the warehouse likely had a bulletin board or other obvious place where legal paperwork, identifying the grow as medical, was posted.

That paperwork also likely contained the business license of a medical marijuana collective that uses the warehouse to cultivate the cannabis. With so much paperwork around and the name of a dispensary on hand, it's easy to see how police might have thought it was a pot club.

The name of the collective possibly on-site was not made available to media on Wednesday.

It's obviously a lot less sexy for there to be a strong-arm robbery at, say, a farm instead of the produce section of a supermarket, but that's an analogous situation.

As for workers being on-site overnight: PG&E charges varying rates depending on when you use electricity. It's cheaper to run grow-lights overnight; hence, many grow operations are night shifts.

Also, robbing a grow house may or may not be the best idea in the world. A pound of cured, dried, top-shelf cannabis might net you $4,000 on the street, if it's divided up into small amounts and then sold, or $2,500 if it's sold in bulk. But hundreds of immature plants, or wet plants, or uncut, uncured cannabis? Such a robbery might net nothing more than a bunch of extra work for the burglars, with hours of trimming and days of drying before a single dollar can be netted.
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4 comments
Able_Dart
Able_Dart like.author.displayName 1 Like

Chris Roberts is a marijuana advocate and his biases are well known. This is a clumsy attempt to minimize the fact that marijuana production in the city is at the very least an attractive nuisance. In past articles, Roberts has claimed that it is safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana.  

Marijuana is a depressant. There may indeed be positive medical uses for THC, but they would be better for the patient if it were pharmaceuticalized and made separate from captious initiatives to allow potheads to get high wile masquerading as stress patients. Marijuana should probably be legalized - and then controlled and taxed - as a substance akin to alcohol or tobacco. But the current state of affairs is basically drug dealers who have bought off the state and a large part of the public. Chris Roberts is their stooge, not a journalist.

yujin.ito
yujin.ito

@Able_Dart It's not just THC that provides medical benefits. There will soon be a pharmaceutical drug called Sativex on the market. It is equal parts THC and CBD. Reports say that it does seem to perform substantially better than Marinol, but still not as good as the "gold standard" which is smoked cannabis.  If you pharmaceuticalize it then the price goes up and it becomes a less effective therapy. Look what happened with Marinol, that stuff is synthesized THC and it's widely regarded as being extremely less effective than marijuana in it's natural state. Hense, Sativex, which seems to be better than the current pharmaceutical option, but does not beat the gold standard. I am failing to see why I should go about my daily life in pain just so that you can feel better about someone you don't even know, not smoking pot in their own home. I will not just hand my money over to drug makers just to buy a medicine that I can produce at a fraction of the cost. Plus growing yourself at home you have as much as you need of what you need. Sometimes a dispensary might not have the variety that brings you the relief for your symptoms. Growing it yourself and others who might need it solves that problem.

AlsoAnAdvocate
AlsoAnAdvocate

@Able_Dart Show me the science that says it's as bad for you as smoking and alcohol and we will all go away.

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