Marijuana: David Lopez Allegedly Tied Up Pot Shop Employee, Held Him at Gunpoint

Aside from the Supermax in Florence and the U.S. Mint in Denver, few places in this state are as heavily secured as medical marijuana dispensaries. To burglarize one after closing is usually a waste of time, as Colorado law says weed has to be locked up and owners often keep their (mostly) cash profits in impregnable safes, as well. And to rob one during the daytime is a pretty brazen move, because the required security cameras will be photographing you from numerous angles while someone presses a silent alarm to call the police.

But despite all of that, some scofflaws can't resist stopping by dispensaries. An example: David Lopez, a forty-year-old Texan, who allegedly robbed a Pueblo recreational dispensary at gunpoint this week.

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According to the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, an employee at the Cannasseur recreational marijuana dispensary showed up a few hours before the shop opened on Monday and was allegedly ambushed by Lopez, who forced the employee inside, tied him up, then ripped out the phone lines before grabbing armloads of pot and other weed-related items.

By this time, police had been called and were surrounding the building. When Lopez stepped out the door, he was arrested with the pot as well as a fully loaded, thirty-round 9mm handgun. Cops say they think Lopez planned to hit up at least two other dispensaries; owners at nearby shops say they've seen him hanging around. He's now facing a slew of charges, including kidnapping, false imprisonment, menacing and aggravated robbery.

An employee at the Cannasseur said that staffers had been told not to speak with the press, but he added that everyone was "doing okay" despite the incident. She said the product was fine, too, and as of 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, the store was preparing to open up for the day.

Online, the shop says it accepts credit cards -- but no doubt a large part of its business is cash, and at $420 an ounce and $60 an eighth before taxes, there's likely plenty of cash around. Most dispensaries are in the same situation. Despite memos from federal banking officials that say banks and other financial institutions can offer services to pot shops, many are still reluctant to do so.

Earlier this year, in an attempt to help break the logjam, the Colorado Legislature passed a marijuana co-op bill. Still, no institutions have been created yet, and they would not be able to get federal insurance. Attempts at the federal level to change policies through legislation have largely been stymied, too, though a recent amendment to the much-debated House spending bill last month would make it illegal for the Securities and Exchange Commission or Treasury Department to go after banks that hold accounts with state-legal marijuana businesses. The measure was co-sponsored by Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes