During the week of November 15th, armed robbers in Oakland forced their way into more than 15 licensed cannabis businesses, vandalizing stores and offices, and stealing products worth millions of dollars. Cannabis companies that were impacted by the robberies are now asking for tax relief from local and state agencies in order to recover and sustain their operations.
All types of licensed cannabis business were impacted: cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail (delivery and storefronts). Cumulatively, these small and mostly Equity-licensed businesses are now faced with over $5 million in losses.
A press conference and rally organized by Supernova Women was held November 29, 2021. Several leaders in the Bay area cannabis industry addressed the incidents, and how such events impact licensed cannabis businesses aiming for sustainability in the highly complex legal market. Speakers included Kristi Palmer, co-founder and COO of Kiva Confections, Raeven Duckett, CEO and founder of Text Johnnie, and Chaney Turner, chair of the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
These longtime cannabis advocates discussed the issues of security, cannabis tax amnesty, and small business policy. In a year, when the pandemic and global supply chain disruptions have hampered business growth and sustainability, the recent robberies mark another significant challenge to small cannabis businesses. They also threaten the viability of a retail cannabis industry in Oakland.
J. Henry Halston Jr., co-founder of cannabis brand James Henry says: "This is just so heartbreaking and stomach-turning. We employ 14 people and we have been trying to grow our business since we first started in 2017. The damage and stolen goods represent significant losses that we have to find a way to cover. This includes local and state taxes on the inventory that has been stolen. This one might be too much for us to overcome."
Amber E. Senter, co-founder and chairman of Supernova Women, adds: "The cannabis industry needs tax relief. Cannabis Equity businesses, in particular, need more money and resources. Small businesses and small farmers need help. Piling on and increasing taxes and now the threat of robberies and violence is proving to be unbearable for most cannabis operators. When we are faced with targeted attacks, the effects are magnified. Our communities do not have the runway for robberies and tragedies of this kind. We need more protection, and we need more funds and resources to improve security so that we can protect ourselves."
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