Marijuana Theft Grows Rampant In Washington

By Victoria Kim 08/27/19

The state’s attempt at keeping the industry transparent may be helping thieves stake out a "laundry list of targets."

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burglar about to steal marijuana in Washington
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Marijuana theft is a problem in Washington state.

Recreational marijuana was approved in 2012 by Washington voters, and the legal marijuana industry was built on the promise of transparency.

Washington marijuana producers are required to report on every step of the process. “We plant a seed, we report it. You take a cutting, you report it. How long you dry. What the final weight was. How soon did it go out [the] door? What did you sell, who did you sell it to, for how much? What did they mark it up to? Easily 25% of our time is given over to tracking,” Regina Liszanckie, a producer-processor in Seattle, told Politico.

All of this information is posted online and available to the public.

The Targets

Some suspect that the state’s attempt at keeping the budding industry transparent may be leading thieves to businesses, by providing a “veritable laundry list of targets,” according to one Seattle cannabis grower who has lost $200,000 worth of marijuana to multiple burglaries last summer.

They came to suspect that the availability of the public record was causing the repeat burglaries, upon analyzing the pattern of burglaries among marijuana growers in the Seattle area.

They noticed a similar pattern in each case. The businesses tended to be smaller and less likely to afford the surveillance and security tools to protect against thefts. They would also somehow be hit at peak inventory and robbed of thousands—“even tens and hundreds of thousands”—of dollars worth of product.

Now faced with a burglary problem, marijuana businesses say they are suffering for the sake of industry transparency. What’s worse, the state does not properly track marijuana thefts.

“It’s a huge risk for us to have that out in the public domain,” said Spencer Shrote of Royal Tree Gardens in Tacoma. “It puts a target on our backs. It makes things less safe.”

Despite the state taking steps to clamp down on cannabis diversion to the illegal market, Shrote does not have much hope that the problem will be resolved any time soon. “We’ve just accepted it’s going to happen,” he told Politico, “because of the state of industry and the amount of public data that’s available.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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