The Wednesday armed robbery of a Southeast Portland marijuana dispensary is renewing calls to change federal laws so cannabis businesses can keep their money in banks.
Three robbers took about $1,000 in cash and about three ounces of marijuana from Mt. Hood Wellness Center on Aug. 3, employee Tyler Wilson tells WW.
"The employee working was very blindsided," says Wilson, who wasn't there at the time of the robbery. "It should not have happened to him. He's one of the nicest people."
Noah Stokes, CEO of Cannaguard, a security system supplier for marijuana dispensaries, says robberies like this one underline the need for banks to work with dispensaries. Mt. Hood Wellness, like many dispensaries in Oregon, is a cash-only business.
"People are going to get hurt because they can't put cash into a bank," Stokes said. "It opens businesses up to additional vulnerabilities."
"It just drives me crazy," Blumenauer says. "We have over 5,000 legal marijuana businesses around the country, a number of them here in Oregon, and because of the stupid policy they are required to be conducted on an all-cash basis."
In 2014, Gresham-based MBank became the first bank in Oregon to openly offer accounts to marijuana growers and sellers. But it closed those accounts a year later, citing the pressure of government regulations created by handling weed money.
But Stokes says that dispensaries are no more of a target for robbery than liquor stores and gas stations.
"There are pretty robust requirements for the industry here," he tells WW.
Three suspects were booked into jail Wednesday night in connection to the robbery: 20-year-old Malik Stephens, 20-year-old Vontrell Mills and 23-year-old Jiante Fascan Carter. Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Peter Simpson says the three men were stopped for a traffic infraction in North Portland about 15 minutes after the robbery.