Antelope Valley Press
Gosh. When a store wants to announce it’s open for business in the neighborhood, the Green Cactus Collective has certainly found a bang-up way to do it. Better than a “grand opening” banner, certainly.
A security guard at a “pot collective” who was shot multiple times was listed in critical but stable condition over the holiday.
The gunshot victim, 64-year-old Arcenio Tavares, was working as a security guard on Thanksgiving Eve at the Green Cactus Collective near Sierra Highway and Barrel Springs Road, in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. At the threshold of full Social Security eligibility, we certainly hope the guard survives.
Tavares said he spotted three males wearing dark “hoodies” with bandanas over their faces. They were approaching with guns in hand, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Don Ford related in a media statement. Tavares drew his handgun but was shot multiple times. Despite being hit, Tavares returned fire, and the suspects ran off.
In addition to laws forbidding armed robbery, it’s almost as if there ought to be a law regulating this sort of thing. Oh, we forgot, there is a law!
The business itself is not allowed to operate legally within the Los Angeles County unincorporated area.
“I heard the shots. I heard him scream that he had been shot,” said Barbara Tustison, a neighbor who lives nearby.
“We’re not happy that they’ve got that clinic over there,” she said.
The good lady has a point.
“I’d like to find a way to stop it,” she said. “Especially with kids, and people who were out walking last night. We’ve got propane tanks in here,” Tustison said.
Another point scored! Gunplay around propane tanks. Not good.
She said the marijuana collective opened about two months ago. Another resident, asked whether having the illicit business near his home concerns him, responded, “Now it does!”
“I’ve got my kids here, I don’t want one of those bullets flying into my house.”
Another good point. The resident counted at least nine shots fired and said he heard a bullet whiz by.
“I know there was evasive and counter-firing. I know there was somebody protecting himself. I didn’t know the security guard was armed, but it’s good that he was,” the man said.
So what was the attractive nuisance that brought the gunmen to that point to the Green Cactus Collective? If you answered neighborhood pot store, you win!
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors enacted a ban on such establishments a few years ago, with County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, making the case against such rogue operations.
“Attracting crime and other nuisances, these facilities have a negative impact on the communities where they’ve operated – leading more than 100 cities and nine counties in California to pass similar ordinances.
“Since many municipalities in Los Angeles County currently have either a ban or moratorium, adjacent unincorporated communities would become the obvious location of choice for dispensary operators – creating an undue burden for residents in these areas.”
We think getting critically wounded in a shootout with bandits arriving to hijack the contraband is, indeed, an undue burden on the neighborhood. The dispensaries “have had a deplorable history in the communities where they’ve been placed,” Tony Bell, communications deputy for Antonovich, said when the ordinance passed.
The so-called clinics cause traffic congestion, crime goes up and property values drop, according to Bell. Another issue is proximity of pot shops to schools, parks and places where children congregate.
Dispensaries have “a lot of pot and cash,” Bell said. “It’s a clear target for crime.” They are enough of a target that people in Los Angeles have been killed in shootouts that erupted during pot store robbery attempts. And that place is the pot shop capital of the country.
“Many of the nonlegitimate (cannabis) users tend to loiter nearby, which impacts the community,” Bell said. “The communities’ interests need to come first, which is what spawned the ordinance.”
The so-called pot dispensaries are just that – profit points to dispense weed at high profit, most often supported by shadowy criminal enterprises.
Legalization of marijuana is a different subject. Government sanction of marijuana sales and regulation and taxation is a different subject. By the way, even states that have approved this enterprise are operating illegally, according to federal law. The issue of marijuana for legitimate pain reduction is another issue. All those are part of a wider social debate. Pot clinics are crime magnets.
So the first thing that can, and should, be done to assist the wounded security guard and the neighbors is to shut the place down and throw the book at the operators.