Two Armed Men at Large After Stealing Marijuana, Money From Santa Rosa Distribution Center

Police across Northern California are on the lookout for two men accused of robbing a Sonoma County medical marijuana distribution center at gunpoint Thursday evening, sheriff's officials said.

A female employee of the distribution center north of Santa Rosa noticed a red Honda Accord approach her as she walked to her car around 7 p.m., Sonoma County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum said.

The employee got in her car, locked and started it, but a man wearing black clothing and gloves blocked her car with the Honda to prevent her from leaving, Crum said.

The suspect approached the employee's car door with a handgun and demanded the employee take him inside the distribution center, Crum said.

Once inside, another man entered the business and both suspects ordered the female employee to show them the distribution center's vault and open it, Crum said.

The suspects bound the woman's wrists and ankles with zip ties, forced her to get onto the ground and not look at them. The pair left in the Honda with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana from the vault, Crum said.

The victim was able to free herself and called for help, Crum said.

The suspects' vehicle was described as a newer, dark red Honda with paper plates and tinted windows, Crum said.

Crum said marijuana was not being grown in the distribution center warehouse which he described as "well established and sophisticated." He said the sheriff's office is investigating whether the distribution center is legal under the state's medical marijuana laws.

Crum said the marijuana robbery is one reason why Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, who retired Tuesday, was opposed to the voter approved Proposition 64 that legalizes marijuana for adults in California.

There are rules requiring security personnel at dispensaries, and distribution sites are required to present security plans when applying for permits. State law, however, doesn’t give any specific requirements about on-site guards – just recommendations.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says businesses should use more than one employee at closing time each night so that workers are not left so vulnerable to robberies.

NBC Bay Area's Thom Jensen contributed to this report. 

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