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Crime

2 Killed In Separate Dispensary Attacks ~ Los Angeles

photo taken during happier times

photo taken during happier times

Amidst all the politics surrounding dispensaries and legality in the city; violence at two shops yesterday left two employees dead and one critically injured.

The Higher Path Holistic Care Collective on Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Holistic in Hollywood were both hit by armed gunmen just hours apart.  Of course, there's no video surveillance, no witnesses, and it doesn't look like it's known whether or not anything was stolen.

This hits closer to home for myself since I've been to The Higher Path and the one critically injured was the security guard at the store.  I still find it hard to believe there would be no surveillance inside and/or around the store.  I drove by to take some pictures but didn't want to get caught up in the LAPD stakeout... black and whites clear as day sitting on the street watching the store.

Who knows if new details will emerge, but one thing is clear; this bolster's the city council's stance on limiting dispensaries because of crime even though these two shops were established years ago and considered legal.

Read the AP story for more:

OS ANGELES — Homicide detectives were trying to determine Friday whether deadly attacks on staff at two medical marijuana dispensaries were connected, police said.

The attacks Thursday came amid concern about the proliferation of pot clinics and new city regulations that could shutter hundreds of them.

Four robbers gunned down an employee and wounded another at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Higher Path Holistic Care Collective on Sunset Boulevard in the Echo Park area, said Cmdr. David Doan, chief of detectives.

Killed was Matthew Butcher, 27, of Los Angeles, a coroner's official said. The other employee, whose name was not released, was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

Five hours after the first attack, the owner of the Hollywood Holistic dispensary found the body of an employee at the Hollywood store, Doan said.

The man was in his 30s, but his name was not released.

There were no immediate arrests.

No surveillance video was available from either store, and because investigators do not know the motive for the second killing, they were unsure whether the two attacks were linked, Doan said.

However, marijuana dispensaries handle large amounts of money, which could make them targets for robbers, Doan said.

Crime was among the concerns that prompted the City Council to crack down on pot dispensaries, which have flourished since California voters legalized use of marijuana for medical reasons in 1996.

The initiative did not address actual sales of the drug, and communities up and down the state have struggled to craft laws. Some have outright banned pot clinics, which call themselves collectives and supposedly only sell to members with medical problems.

New Los Angeles city regulations that took effect earlier this month bar dispensaries from being near homes, schools, churches or parks. Some began closing, and city officials have said an estimated 400 clinics could be forced out of business.

More than 130 existing dispensaries that registered before a 2007 moratorium can stay open if they prove within six months that they meet the new guidelines.

Doan said both the clinics where the shootings occurred were licensed before the moratorium.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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