A man suspected of trying to rob a medical marijuana dispensary in Southern California was shot dead by a security guard June 25, authorities said.
According to witnesses and police, two men entered a dispensary on Century Boulevard in Los Angeles shortly after noon and opened fire. The shop, “Nature’s Cure,” is located near LAX.
The two men were met inside the store by an armed security guard, Los Angeles police said. Both robbers fired their guns, and the guard shot one of them before they left. A witness said he saw the men flee.
“I heard gunshots, but I’m not sure who was shooting at whom,” Felix Avilar said. “I saw one guy run towards the Westin, the other guy ran that way toward La Cienega, but he then came back. He jumped in the car and left in his car.”
According to police, the man fled in a black BMW. An early report indicated the security guard was shot, but police later said he was unhurt.
The other robber, the man who was shot, survived for a short time after the gunfight. He later collapsed and died in front of The Westin Los Angeles hotel about a block from the dispensary.
The identity of the robber who was shot wasn’t released as of June 26. Police said his partner was wearing a beige shirt, green pants, and a brown baseball cap when he left the scene. He had a gun, police said.
Despite the occurrence of the occasional violent crime at a pot shop, medical marijuana dispensaries aren’t magnets for criminals. Studies in California and elsewhere have repeatedly shown that dispensaries don’t lead to higher crime rates.
“We’ve seen from multiple reports based on law enforcement statistics that licensed and regulated medical-marijuana facilities do not increase crime in surround areas, and may in fact in many cases, crime decreases,” Betty Aldworth of the National Cannabis Industry Association said last year.
Still, there have been a number of high-profile dispensary robberies in California in recent months. Early this year, two men who robbed a dispensary and killed an employee in 2010 were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In April, one man was killed by a security guard during a botched dispensary robbery. His accomplice, a 17-year-old gang member, has been charged with his murder.
Medical cannabis dispensaries and their workers are especially vulnerable to robbery because they must only deal in cash. Banks and other financials institutions won’t do business with them because pot is still banned under federal law.
The Obama administration tried to relieve the problem by issuing guidelines bankers could follow to serve marijuana businesses, but the financial industry mostly rejected the new rules, saying they wouldn’t protect them from criminal liability.