Washington Bill to Increase Penalties for Cannabis Shop Robberies Passes Senate

A Washington bill that passed the state Senate unanimously last week would increase penalties for robbing licensed cannabis retailers.

Full story after the jump.

A Washington bill increasing the penalties for robbing licensed cannabis retailers has passed the state Senate, KIMA reports. The bill matches the sentence that for those who rob pharmacies, adding one year on top of any robbery conviction.

State Sen. Jim Honeyford (R), the bill sponsor, said the bill is needed as the number of robberies of cannabis retailers“ is on the rise.” The Cannabis Professionals Network counted more than 30 cannabis-shop robberies in the state since November, the report says. Honeyford told KIMA that the bill “would make improvements for not just the benefit of the retailers themselves, but for the public safety of the community as a whole.”

However, Alexis Kaiser, the manager at Yakima’s Fire Cannabis Company, said the bill wouldn’t make much of a difference, and that what the industry needs is access to financial and banking services which would help reduce its reliance on cash.

“If somebody’s going to go rob, and especially use guns, I don’t think they’re really thinking about the consequences. I get what they’re trying to do, and yes I’m glad that you’re worried about us too but I just don’t think that that’s going to be the solution.” – Kaiser via KIMA

In an interview with NBC Right Now, Honeyford said that cannabis stores are “a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals” because of federal banking rules. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act, which would normalize banking for the cannabis industry six times, most recently last week as part of the China competition bill. It has never been considered by the Senate.

The Washington bill passed the Senate unanimously last week and moves next to the House.

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