Chicago weed dispensary hit by burglars, police say

“We take security extremely seriously and have never experienced an incident like this since we first opened in 2016,” the owner of MOCA Modern Cannabis said.

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Marijuana dispensary MOCA Modern Cannabis in Logan Square was burglarized Jan. 6, 2020.

Marijuana dispensary MOCA Modern Cannabis in Logan Square was burglarized Jan. 6, 2020.

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A marijuana dispensary in Logan Square was burglarized overnight on the Northwest Side.

Burglars broke into MOCA Modern Cannabis at 2847 W. Fullerton Ave. and stole cash but no marijuana, according to the dispensary’s owner and Chicago police.

Police said multiple people broke in through a side door, possibly using a keycard. The owner of the dispensary reported the burglary at 8:30 a.m. Monday after showing up to open the store, police said.

MOCA’s owner, Danny Marks, told the Sun-Times the break-in happened about 3 a.m.

“We take security extremely seriously and have never experienced an incident like this since we first opened in 2016,” Marks said.

He said no security staff was present during the break-in, but that their “security system is of the highest standards and we have licensed security staff on site during all open hours.”

City inspectors walk out of MOCA Modern Cannabis Dec. 20, 2019 after a routine check ahead of legal weed sales.

City inspectors walk out of MOCA Modern Cannabis Dec. 20, 2019 after a routine check ahead of legal weed sales.

Nader Issa/Sun-Times

“Our staff and customers mean the world to us, and everyone’s security is our absolute highest priority. We would like to thank everyone who wrote in with support and well wishes,” Marks said.

Kevin Sabet — president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that staunchly opposed Illinois’ legalization push — said the burglary at MOCA was “wholly predictable.”

“This is a wake up call that legal marijuana isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, that these stores are detriments to the community and serious consequences often come with them,” said Sabet, adding that other states where pot is legal have seen similar crimes. “Just because marijuana becomes legal tomorrow, doesn’t mean that the underground market and the crime associated with [it] go away.”

Sabet noted that dispensaries are “sitting targets” vulnerable to these types of crimes because they sell expensive products, much like jewelry stores. However, police didn’t report that any weed was taken from MOCA.

They are also generally cash only, because federal law prohibits marijuana sales.

Sabet noted that one of the reasons that some towns and cities in Illinois have moved to ban recreational pot sales is because of concerns over crime.

“They don’t want them there,” he said.

Illinois’ pot law requires dispensaries to store all cannabis and money in a “reinforced vault room” to prevent theft. Dispensaries are also required to have continuous video surveillance and a contract with a private security company.

Chicago police have said they were going to patrol near dispensaries and keep a lookout for anyone trying to rob customers or the shops themselves.

MOCA was one of six Chicago pot shops not selling recreational weed Monday because they either sold out or had a limited supply. MOCA was also closed for recreational sales on Sunday.

The location is one of nine Chicago dispensaries that sell both medical and recreational cannabis.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois on Jan. 1, and dispensaries have reported nearly $10.8 million in sales since then, according to the Illinois Department of Federal and Professional Regulation.

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