CHICAGO — Burglars broke into a Chicago cannabis dispensary Sunday night, Jan. 5 -- prompting cash-carrying customers to be turned away Monday, Jan. 6, less than a week after recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois.
Police said “offenders” possibly used a key card to break through a side door of the MOCA Modern Cannabis shop on the 2800 block of West Fullerton Avenue in Logan Square before getting away with an undisclosed amount of money, WGN-TV reported.
“I came by MOCA to buy some oil and some flower, but apparently they’re closed,” said Paul Toledo, customer.
According to WGN-TV, some elected officials have called for changes to banking regulations, saying they make these shops targets.
Because cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, most banks won’t risk doing business with the cannabis industry. So, for now, weed shops are all-cash.
“Typically what makes cannabis a target for theft is they’re not allowed to process a lot of payments through credit cards," said Toledo. "A lot of banks won’t accept them because they feel like it’s a risk, so they’re going to have a lot of cash on them and it’s going to be a good spot to rob for now."
Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs told WGN-TV the banking regulations must be changed, or we’re likely to see more thefts like this.
“This illustrates exactly the point we’ve been making for the last two years -- that legitimate cannabis businesses ought to have access to the banking system," said Frerichs. "When these businesses are forced to deal exclusively in cash, it makes them a much greater target for criminal activity."
Frerichs said Illinois lawmakers have done all they can, and banking regulations have to be changed by Congress.
The Safe Banking Act, which would allow cannabis businesses to use banks, was passed in the House but stalled in the U.S. Senate, despite support from Democrats and Republicans like Missouri’s Roy Blunt.
“If you make it all cash, you highly increase the bad things that can happen.” Sen. Blunt said.
Illinois has seen more than $10 million worth of recreational cannabis sales since the law changed Jan. 1, WGN-TV reported.
In a written statement, MOCA's owner said:
“MOCA Dispensary experienced a burglary late last night. Thankfully no one was hurt. No cannabis product was stolen but there was cash taken. We are working with Chicago and IL State police on the matter and investigations are ongoing. We take security extremely seriously and have never experienced an incident like this since we first opened in 2016. We would like to thank everyone who wrote in with support and well wishes.”