Senate passes Honeyford cannabis-shop protection bill

Measure would address violent robberies at Washington’s cannabis retailers

On Thursday, the Washington State Senate unanimously passed a measure that would protect the state’s more-than-1,000 cannabis retailers, which have been the targets of violent robberies and other crimes.

Senate Bill 5927, sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford, would add a year to the prison sentence of someone convicted of first- or second-degree robbery of a cannabis retail outlet. It’s the same extended sentence that goes with the robbery of a pharmacy and would be applied to robberies of cannabis retailers when the crime is planned and carried out by two or more people.

“When people would ask the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ Well, that’s why people rob marijuana retailers,” explained Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. “Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals.

“The number of robberies of cannabis stores is on the rise, and this bill would make improvements for not just the benefit of the retailers themselves, but for the public safety of the community as a whole.”

Speaking to news media, Tom Bout, founder of the Cannabis Professionals Network, counted more than 30 cannabis-shop robberies in Washington just since November 2021. He noted that several of them have been armed robberies.

SB 5927 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.