Pure Oasis just can’t catch a break.
First, the marijuana shop in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood was forced to close only two weeks after its grand opening in March, thanks to emergency coronavirus-related restrictions.
Then, only days after finally being allowed to reopen following the two-month shutdown, the state’s first and only Black-run cannabis retailer was looted early Monday morning amid protests against police brutality.
Kobie Evans, the co-owner of Pure Oasis, said more than a dozen people entered the store’s back storeroom after someone broke through a large window around 1:43 a.m. Collectively, the thieves made off with about 2,000 pre-rolled joints and 2,000 containers of marijuana flower worth well over $100,000 at retail prices, he said.
Evans called the initial smash-and-grab robbery a “targeted attack” meant to take advantage of the distraction provided by the protests, noting that Pure Oasis is miles from the area where a peaceful march on Sunday later gave way to violent clashes and the looting of numerous retailers.
“They were deliberate. They purposefully came just to our shop," Evans said. “They were able to get into a secure back room. They knew exactly where they were going.”
Others in the area then joined in opportunistically, he said.
"It was a melee,” Evans said, describing the scene before police arrived and secured the store.
Also Monday, the Cannabis Control Commission said two medical marijuana dispensaries in Boston, Mayflower Medicinals in Allston and Patriot Care in the city’s downtown, were the subject of unspecified incidents during the protests. Neither company could immediately be reached for comment.
Despite the robbery at Pure Oasis, the shop was open for business as usual Monday — albeit with a boarded-up window — selling its remaining inventory to a long line of customers. Evans said he and co-owner Kevin Hart spent much of the day working with a security consultant on a plan to beef up the store’s defenses.
“We had a big outpouring of support from the community this morning,” Evans said Monday. “They believe in us and want us around. We all know this wasn’t coming from the community. This was people going through the city and taking advantage of the situation.”
Pure Oasis in March became the first business to open after participating in the Cannabis Control Commission’s “economic empowerment” program, which grants licenses faster to companies that are either led by, employ, or benefit communities that had high arrest rates for drug crimes.
Evans said the irony is not lost on him: Pure Oasis is a Black-owned company that employs people with prior drug convictions, and whose very licensing was intended to help redress the over-policing of Black and brown communities, yet it was targeted during protests against over-policing.
“Kevin [Hart] and I stand in solidarity with all the people protesting the injustice in Minneapolis and elsewhere,” Evans said. “In no way do we draw any connection between what happened to us and people protesting for a good cause. This is a somewhat isolated incident where a few people exploited the situation for personal gain, because someone wanted a free pair of Jordans and some weed to go with it.”
“We don’t want this to mar the people out there seeking justice for George Floyd and all the victims of over-policing and the war on drugs across the country,” Evans added.