The Berkeley Patients Group has been on San Pablo Avenue in varying locations for more than 16 years. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
The Berkeley Patients Group has been on San Pablo Avenue in varying locations for more than 16 years. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Police are looking for three masked robbers with a gun who tied up a security guard and took several trays of marijuana plants from a Berkeley medical cannabis dispensary over the weekend while the business was closed.

The robbery took place Sunday just before 1:20 a.m., said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, when three people went into the parking lot of the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) dispensary at 2366 San Pablo Ave., near Channing Way.

A security guard was posted in the parking lot. No other employees were on site.

“The suspects approached the guard, one armed with a gun,” said Coats. “The guard was tied up. The suspects entered the business and forced the security guard to lay on the ground.”

The trio then went through the business, and took three trays of marijuana plants before fleeing. After they left, the guard was able to call 911, Coats said.

The robbers wore masks, and police said their races and ages were unknown. At least two of the robbers were male: one who was 6 feet tall with a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans, and the other who was 5 feet 9 with a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. The other person may have been female, and was 5 feet 7 with a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.

Victor Pinho, spokesman for the dispensary, said it was the first armed robbery in the businesses’ history. BPG has been open on San Pablo Avenue for more than 16 years. According to its website, it’s the nation’s longest continuously operating medical cannabis dispensary.

“Any retail business in Berkeley deals with these sorts of threats on a daily basis,” he said, noting that the Fourth Street Apple store has been the target of several significant thefts over the past year. “It’s an ongoing problem in the West Berkeley community and throughout the area.”

Pinho said the security guard was not harmed and that BPG is “very thankful that he is safe.”

He said the robbers were inside the dispensary for less than five minutes, and that the entire episode was caught on video.

“A full investigation is underway by the Berkeley Police Department,” he said. “Our security measures were in fact successful.”

Pinho said patient and business records were not compromised, and that “the medicine and the safety of the products” weren’t either.

“Our security measures are top notch, top of the line in fact,” he said. “We have done a great job pioneering top-of-the-line security protocols, and this incident proves that they work.”

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...