Medical marijuana: Herbal Wellness, Fort Collins pot shop, open after armed robbery

A Fort Collins medical marijuana clinic was open as usual Monday despite being a crime scene the day before. As Michael Roberts reported yesterday in his post about a possible Fort Collins dispensary ban, Herbal Wellness LLC was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. I spoke earlier with an Herbal Wellness manager, who asked not to be named.

The manager was clearly upset about the situation judging by the tired and stressed tone of his voice. He said people were shook up, but no one had been hurt. "We're not going to let it get us down," he said. Proof of that, he added, is that the shop opened up first thing Monday morning and that the robbery wasn't a hindrance to customers.

The manager declined to talk about the incident itself, but police reports paint a pretty scary scenario:

On Sunday, two men entered Herbal Wellness on College Avenue wearing masks and carrying guns. An employee tried to run, but one of the bandits chased him down and forced him back to the dispensary, where he was tied up along with the other employees. The two robbers then ransacked the place for marijuana and cash.

Thankfully, someone happened to drive past and noticed one of the masked, gun-toting robbers on his way into the dispensary and called the police to report it. Fort Collins cops showed up just as two men jumped in a blue 1991 Mercury sedan (cue The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage") and sped off.

When the pursuit hit a nearby residential area, 39-year-old Ernie Savannah allegedly decided to make a run from the car to evade the cops. This is hardly ever a good idea, but especially not when a dog named Zorro that is trained in controlled mauling is in the back seat of one of the police cruisers chasing you. Needless to say, Savannah didn't make it far before Zorro took him down. My thoughts on drug-sniffing dogs aside, any police dog that chases down pot robbers deserves a big, meaty T-bone in my book.

Meanwhile Savannah's alleged accomplice, Jeremiah Wright, drove off toward I-25, followed by an entourage from the Larimer County Sheriffs Office and the Colorado State Patrol. After a brief game of chase-through-traffic, Wright's Mercury was flipped around backwards by a Larimer County Sheriff deputy in what is politely called a "PIT maneuver." Wright tried reversing his way to freedom, but was again stopped by the deputy's car, which just so happened to contain yet another police dog. Wright tried running, but like Savannah, he learned that dogs run faster. (Ironically, the nab was made near a former dog track.)

The fact that the guns turned out to be Airsoft pellet guns and not real lead-shooters probably doesn't change how terrifying the scenario was -- nor does it help the two crooks out much. After being treated for dog bites, the two were charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and felony eluding.

While dispensary robberies seem to be popping up, stories of the robbers being caught are becoming nearly as common.

Recently, a crew of burglars suspected of more than nineteen robberies in southwest Colorado was caught after being filmed on a security camera while breaking into a medical marijuana shop in Pagosa Springs. And earlier this month in California, a marijuana collective owner chased down and beat the crap out of subdued a man who tried smashing the window of the business. The man was later charged with burglarizing three other dispensaries in the state.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Myles Stephens booked for armed robbery at medical marijuana center, 2nd suspect at large."