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After being targeted by looters, 2 Chicago pot shops won't reopen for weeks

The Herbal Care Center on the Near West Side and the Mission dispensary in South Chicago were both ransacked on May 31, a day after a protest in the Loop over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd led to rioting and widespread looting.

Mission dispensary, 8554 S Commercial Ave., was looted on May 31. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Mission dispensary, 8554 S Commercial Ave., was looted on May 31.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Over a week after a series of break-ins at Chicago pot shops temporarily halted sales of legal cannabis across the city, two dispensary operators confirmed Tuesday that efforts to make repairs and bolster security will likely keep their doors closed for weeks.

The Herbal Care Center on the Near West Side and the Mission dispensary in South Chicago were both ransacked on May 31, a day after a protest in the Loop over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd led to rioting and widespread looting.

While The Herbal Care Center may reopen in as little as two weeks, Mission could be shuttered for up to two months. Meanwhile, NuMed in West Town also remained closed Tuesday due to the “ongoing protests” in the area, according to a phone recording.

Kris Krane, Mission’s president, reported earlier this month that dozens of people broke into his store that night and stole its entire stash of highly regulated cannabis products.

“Everything of value was taken, and the store was mostly destroyed,” Krane wrote in a Facebook post.

On Tuesday, Krane told the Chicago Sun-Times that the store’s security infrastructure is being strengthened after glass advertised as bulletproof failed to withstand blows from a baseball bat and crowbar. It will likely take three to eight weeks to get back up-and-running, he said.

“You’ve gotta go through contractors, you’ve gotta source materials, you’ve gotta pull building permits, you’ve gotta go through insurance, you’ve gotta get your coverage for stuff that’s being replaced, we’ve gotta restock inventory,” he said.

The Herbal Care Center’s staff is also in the process of “re-securing” the shop after groups of looters broke into the store twice in just over 19 hours, a spokesman said.

“We are currently developing our reopening plans but hope to continue serving our medicinal patients and customers sometime within the next two-to-three weeks,” said Michel Mandera, the store’s general manager.

About 1:40 a.m. May 31, officers responding to a call of a burglary saw the shop’s glass doors had been shattered and learned from the manager that cash registers and other items were stolen, police said. About 10 people were seen on surveillance footage entering the dispensary after two of them smashed the glass with sledgehammers.

Just after 9 p.m., when a citywide curfew took hold, more officers responded to a call of looting at the dispensary and saw “a mob” of people leaving, police said.

Tom Taber, of Glenview, was driving by when he saw several cars and about 40 to 50 people in a standoff with security guards, who eventually fled inside.

“The area was super tense before the break-in,” Taber said. “At one point I heard a group of individuals shouting at the security, [saying], ‘Yeah, we got guns too, we got guns, too. You ever been shot?’ ”

The looters were eventually able to pry open a garage door, police said, noting that the group unsuccessfully tried to break into the vault and steal an ATM. However, Taber said he saw the looters take some items from inside.

Dispensary 33 in Uptown and Cresco Labs’ new Sunnyside dispensary in River North were also targeted in the chaotic aftermath of the demonstration on May 30, but nothing was reported stolen.

Those shops and the city’s seven other dispensaries have already reopened, though some are only serving medical cannabis patients.