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Cannabis businesses in the Oakland cannabis community are suddenly on an equal scale with trains and banks of the wild west. Why? A rampage of violent robberies and lootings has been razing through the San Francisco Bay area.

Within the third and fourth week of November, a spate of targeted robberies on cannabis dispensaries overwhelmed the Oakland cannabis community and the Bay Area. So far, the robbers have visited over 15 dispensaries and marijuana growing and distribution facilities within three weeks.

Butch Cassidy style, most of these smash-and-grab robberies on cannabis dispensaries involved masked assailants breaking into and looting cannabis stores. Sometimes, even with shots fired. Police reports indicate that the raids were the brainchild of various organized gangs and individuals. They utilized numerous vehicles to rob and cart away with both marijuana products and cash.

Assessments subsequent to the robberies show that Oakland cannabis businesses have lost over $5 million to these attacks.

Reactions to the Robberies on Cannabis Dispensaries

It was not just about the attacks but also about how the businesses felt helpless. There seemed to be reluctance from the government to intervene and help Oakland cannabis businesses recover from the losses.

Most of the cannabis businesses currently counting their losses due to the attacks are small and equity-licensed businesses. Oddly enough, the state scheduled these businesses to start paying Cannabis Business Tax in January 2022. This is right when the bruise would still be fresh.

Hence, there were growing concerns that could drive some businesses with low financial backing to close shop. For those that brace the storm, there remains the risk of fierce competition from illegal marijuana dealers selling their products at ridiculously low prices. Because, ultimately, they have no tax burden or other government obligations. Yet, they got little to no help from authorities.

Owing to these concerns and considerations, the Supernova Women, a 501(c)3 non-profit, took the mantle to beckon on authorities to take action and provide tax relief for the San Francisco cannabis community. On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, the San Francisco supervisors unanimously approved the suspension of the Cannabis Business Tax through December 31, 2022.

Let’s learn a bit about the Supernova Women, their impact on assuaging the robberies on cannabis dispensaries, and their input in the cannabis community as a whole.

Supernova Women: On the Course for Equity in the Cannabis Industry

Today, most of us are learning of the Supernova Women as the non-profit organization fighting for cannabis business tax amnesty for small and equity-licensed Oakland cannabis businesses. However, most people do not know that the Supernova Women have been in the industry since 2015, fighting and winning different equity battles.

Amber Senter is the executive director and co-founder of Supernova Women. During her works, she found a huge gap in racial participation and inclusion in the industry. For a group that the government heavily criminalized during the war on drugs, there were no social equity programs that allowed a level playing ground for BIPOC to assimilate into the industry. Amber Senter, alongside five other women, set about finding ways to bridge that gap through networking, events, advocacy, grants, education for cannabis businesses, and workforce development.

Even in the current sphere, black people only own 4.3% of the industry. In most cases, white people run the upper, executive affairs of the businesses. People of racial minorities are often limited to handling business affairs at the lower cadre.

So far, Supernova Women has set up numerous virtual and offline programs. These opportunities help people from minority backgrounds have a stronger footing in the cannabis industry and own businesses. Supernova Women places a special focus on women who wish to make an entry into the cannabis industry.

Equity Means Equity

With a surface knowledge of the Supernova women, it’s easy to assume that their goals aim at placing women and people from racial minority groups at an advantage over their counterparts. But that would be an error in judgment.

The Supernova women understand, acknowledge, and seek equity for what it is. And that’s a level playing field. They believe in a world where anyone with legitimate cannabis business in mind can take advantage of all opportunities available. A playing field where there is no room for odd clauses and policies that subtly disenfranchise a group from accessing the full benefits of the industry. No matter what, Supernova Women seek fairness through social equity programs for everyone.

That takes us around and back to the subject matter – the robberies on cannabis dispensaries. As part of the organization’s pursuits, the Supernova Women, alongside other key players, found that government assistance for Oakland Cannabis Businesses is necessary. It doesn’t matter the racial background of the person at the helm of affairs.

LEARN MORE: Veterans Struggle to Gain Access to MMJ — Even In Legal States

Bailouts for Small Cannabis Businesses: A Lifeline for the San Francisco Community

Most cannabis dispensaries have an ATM within their business vicinity due to the strict cash-only policy regulating the industry. These ATMs make the dispensaries a disaster waiting to happen. Essentially, it’s probable that criminals believe that dispensaries make for easy rob and escape schemes.

Although dispensaries spend a lot setting up security systems, they hardly have the workforce or resources to withstand coordinated attacks.

Factoring these, among other costs that dispensaries have to shoulder, remaining compliant and running a legitimate cannabis business becomes a tough venture to manage. This is especially so, considering that illegal marijuana businesses offer low-quality and laced products to consumers at way lower prices.

These cause a two-pronged problem:

  • This stresses buisnesses to a point where being operational becomes less and less profitable. They cannot shift the cost burden to consumers because:
  • Patients and recreational consumers might opt for street-grade marijuana products that sellers often mix with other substances. These can be addictive and detrimental to their health and the community at large.

With Supernova Women jointly leading the way at Oakland cannabis business conferences, the organization made it obvious that cannabis businesses require room to breathe before the state imposes a new tax.

The group also called on financial assistance and resources to help the growing cannabis community find a better stance and thrive, both security and finance-wise.

Today, thanks to the efforts by Supernova Women and other business owners, the tax has been suspended. Hopefully, that creates enough balance to help businesses thrive better and keep customers off the embrace of low-quality, street-corner marijuana.

Addressing Cannabis Inequality

Here at Elevate Holistics, we strongly believe in the cannabis industry for all. We think it’s crucial to report on these stories and more, helping our patients understand where we’ve come from. Elevate Holistics supports Supernova Women and all other small canna-businesses like ourselves.

With more hard work, we can only hope that these robberies on cannabis dispensaries become few and far between. However, it’s clear that the industry still has a long way to go.

Learn how to get a medical marijuana card in California by clicking here.

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About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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