A noticeable uptick in cannabis delivery driver robberies is being reported in Michigan, as authorities scramble to control the problem before it snowballs into something worse. The Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) issued a bulletin Tuesday notifying cannabis businesses there’s been a rise in criminal activity.
Macomb Daily reports that authorities are concerned about the rise in crime in the metropolitan Detroit area. As delivery drivers are forced to carry around dangerous amounts of cash and/or cannabis, they are like sitting ducks with a target on their heads.
According to a recent bulletin issued by the CRA on Jan. 17, officials have “identified a pattern in reported criminal activity involving the drivers,” reporting 13 thefts of cannabis products, all within the past six weeks. The MRA regularly posts bulletins when an issue arises, including when a dangerous pattern emerges.
A rash of burglary incidents have been reported in Hazel Park and Ferndale in Oakland County, Utica in Macomb County, Westland, Hamtramck and Detroit in Wayne County, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Lansing. The burglaries began piling up since the beginning of December 2022.
The data shows that the thefts typically occurred at houses at the time of delivery. In some cases, armed robberies took place in which the drivers were assaulted and their vehicles were stolen.
When a robbery takes place, time is ticking for the victims involved. “Licensees and applicants are reminded that the administrative rules require they notify the CRA and local law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of becoming aware of—or within 24 hours of when the licensees should have been aware of—the theft or loss of any product or criminal activity at the marijuana business,” the CRA said in a press release.
“All suspicious activity should be reported to the CRA (using the form available here) and local law enforcement. Questions can be sent to the Cannabis Regulatory Agency Field Operations.”
Licensees are also reminded to watch for and report suspicious activity to police and the CRA. The reporting form is available online.
Not Just the Delivery Drivers are At Risk
Delivery drivers aren’t the only ones being targeted by criminals. Just last November, the CRA said 117 break-ins took place at cannabis businesses from April through November 2022. Authorities also said that the incidents took place primarily at adult-use stores rather than medical cannabis dispensaries.
The CRA says the following tactics were common among break-ins: A suspect vehicle parked in the far reaches of the parking lot or across the street; use of a tool such as a hammer or crowbar to enter the back door; or suspects enter the business and take as much as they can and leave before authorities arrive. A majority of the break-ins took place between 12 a.m. and 7 a.m. throughout West Michigan this year, according to the CRA.
It’s not just happening in Michigan, but in Oregon and Washington state as well. Earlier this year, about 30 robberies happened in a one-month span in Washington.
The surges in robberies at licensed cannabis shops and among delivery drivers adds to the urgency for a need for a bill such as the SAFE Banking Act. The SAFE Banking Act, which did not go as far legislatively as people initially suspected in 2022, would solve many of these problems.
“It makes absolutely no sense that legal businesses are being forced to operate entirely in cash, and it’s dangerous—and sometimes even fatal—for employees behind the register,” Washington Sen. Patty Murray said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.