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Wednesday, November 17,2010

Held up

The owner of a local medical marijuana dispensary responds to being robbed at gunpoint Saturday

by Andy Balaskovitz
Wednesday, Nov. 17 — The owner of Turtle’s medical marijuana dispensary, 2121 E. Michigan Ave., said the store “didn’t skip a beat” after being robbed at gunpoint by three men Saturday night.

“I sold medicine to the very next customer,” Corey Tripp, who owns Turtle’s, said. “We didn’t skip a beat.”

Turtle’s is the only dispensary open 24 hours, seven days per week in Lansing. No one was injured during the robbery.

Tripp, his wife and two other workers were serving eight patients at about 7 Saturday night. Tripp said three men — one was masked — came in shouting for money and “weed.”

Tripp estimated the robbers were there “45 seconds to a minute, maybe.” One of them held Tripp at gunpoint, to which Tripp immediately handed over the medicine. He said it was “several ounces.”

“Unfortunately for the perpetrators, if harm was what they were looking to get, they didn’t get it,” he said.

Tripp is concerned about the perception that dispensaries appear like a “Fort Knox for sick people” and subject patients to unsafe circumstances like Saturday.

“I feel the safety of the marijuana community is at stake,” he said.

Ultimately, Tripp said, dispensaries can take all of the precautionary measures they please to keep this from happening, but it doesn’t make them any safer.

“If they want to come (rob you), they will,” he said. “You’re not going to stop them.”

Tripp compared operating a medical marijuana business to banks, which “get robbed all the time,” he said.

His patients’ reactions have ranged from “real sad,” to those who want to help find the robbers and those who are just “mad,” Tripp said.

Tripp said all employees have gun permits and carry them at all times on the premises. He added that the front door is locked between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. — an added security measure since the break-in — even though the store will remain open 24 hours a day.

Tripp assumes the robbers were not medical marijuana patients. If they were, “I truly am sorry someone has to take such desperate measures in that situation,” he said.

But what if they were just thugs, looking for some quick, free marijuana?

“Maybe,” Tripp said. “Thugs are patients too.”

The Lansing Police Department did not return a call for comment.

Three armed men from Royal Oak attempted to rob a medical marijuana clinic in Ann Arbor Sept. 30, but were apprehended while duct taping employees at the store by Ann Arbor police. The men await trial.

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