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Gun Rights and Pot Shops Equals Strange Bedfellows

“In a reflexive nod to this state’s anti-gun insanity, the government specifically prohibits workers from protecting themselves with guns in a business with lots of pot, lots of cash, and no good guys with guns.”

There’s an odd political conundrum stirring for the left in at least one of the two states that voted to make marijuana legal for recreational use. In Washington state, there has long been arguments for and against pot legalization. For now, in the two states, the legalization point is moot. However, it’s not just that cannabis is legal in a couple of states, there’s another issue arising out of the political smoke cloud. And it isn’t what you’d expect.

In general, the political left tends to support marijuana legalization and oppose gun rights. On the other hand, the political right tends to oppose legalizing recreational pot but supports the Second Amendment. Well, interesting bedfellows might be in the making.

Washington State’s cannabis law bars pot shop employees from carrying firearms on the premises (RCW 9.41.300 (1) (d)) — even if the owner allows it and the employee has a license to carry a concealed weapon. So, this is Washington State’s calculations for cannabis store owners: The state creates (through a vote of the people) a law to legalize a substance that remains federally unlawful. This means those in the pot biz cannot use banks for their business transactions, so the stores must use cash. Think about what position the state has put cannabis shop owners in, regarding the safety and security of their stores and employees.

Pot shop owners must be cash-only establishments. So, let’s get this straight. In a reflexive nod to this state’s anti-gun insanity, the government specifically prohibits workers from protecting themselves with guns in a business with lots of pot, lots of cash, and no good guys with guns. You don’t have to have a crystal ball to see the potential, tragic, unintended consequences. You know who else knows this? Bad guys with guns.

How do I know a firearm is the most effective means of self-defense? Because when my department pinned my badge on me they didn’t issue me a rolling pin or a toaster; they gave me a gun.

I’m sure the gun control advocate’s ill-considered intent of this firearm restriction is to prevent a crime with a gun inside the store (didn’t you see the sign?). Why does my head hurt after writing that? Oh, right, it had to pass through my brain. Seems more like what the state did was create a new class of ‘Gun Free Zone’. One containing a pile of drugs and a cash stash ripe for an armed criminal’s shopping pleasure—Christmas is coming. Hell, if you’re a good union crook, you’d be negligent if you didn’t put robbing a pot shop at the top of your to-do list.

Kidding aside, this is a serious issue, and there can been catastrophic consequences. For example, on September 15th, 2017, alleged bad guy Donovan Culps and alleged bad gal, his 18-year-old niece, Violetta Culps, entered Lucid Marijuana in Cheney, Washington (about 16 miles south of Spokane). The two were refused a purchase because of lack of ID, and they left.

Sometime later, a store employee, Cameron Smith, was eating his lunch in his car in the parking lot when the suspects allegedly kidnapped him at gunpoint. Law enforcement searched the area for him and his car. Eventually, they found the car concealed off a state road and discovered the deceased victim’s body.

Now, I’m not saying if Smith had been armed he would still be alive. No one knows that. Maybe he would have chosen not to be armed even if he were allowed to carry. But, if you believe in a human being’s natural right to self-defense, then shouldn’t you believe in a person’s right to the most effective means of that defense: a firearm? How do I know a firearm is the most effective means of self-defense? Because when my department pinned my badge on me they didn’t issue me a rolling pin or a toaster; they gave me a gun.

Fortunately, though the political right, conservatives, and Republicans tend to oppose the legalization of recreational cannabis, it’s refreshing to see these Americans take a principled stance and maintain intellectual consistency and integrity in defense of pot shop employees with whom they may have little in common with politically. The one thing they do have in common is that they’re fellow Americans who should enjoy a natural right to self-defense, which preserves another natural right — the right to life.

Finally, the other morning, I was listening to a radio show discussion about this issue when a female cannabis store employee made a poignant comment. Rather than the issue addressing only the employees’ right to carry, which should be allowed, she suggested changing the law would also be prudent, so shop owners could hire armed security officers to protect their businesses and employees.

The only problem I see that the state could possibly have with her suggestion is that it makes too much sense.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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