2 marijuana 'compassion clubs' busted in Tempe - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2 marijuana 'compassion clubs' busted in Tempe

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More than 120 plants were located and seized. (Source: Tempe Police Department) More than 120 plants were located and seized. (Source: Tempe Police Department)
On Oct. 25, an employee was shot and critically wounded. On Oct. 25, an employee was shot and critically wounded.

The operator of two "compassion clubs" in Tempe has been arrested and police seized more than 120 marijuana plants in an investigation that began in October.

The arrest came after a series of search warrants were served at Top Shelf Hydro College, formerly known as the Az Go Green Co-op, according to Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Mike Pooley.

In October 2012, the Tempe Police Special Investigations Bureau began investigating the business located at 426 E. Southern Ave. after receiving several complaints from concerned residents and businesses in the area.

Undercover detectives purchased large quantities of marijuana at the business, which is in violation the state's new medical marijuana law, Pooley said.

On Oct. 25, an employee was shot and critically wounded. The investigation into the business began before the shooting occurred. [Related: Read more about the shooting]

On Tuesday morning, Tempe police detectives served a search warrant on the business, now located at 1706 E. Curry Rd. Officers said they found a marijuana grow as well as a large quantity of individually wrapped amounts of marijuana.

During the probe, two houses were identified as "grow houses" in Tempe, where the supply of marijuana for Top Shelf Hydro College was grown and cultivated. Two simultaneous search warrants were served by the Tempe SWAT team on those houses.

More than 120 plants were located and seized.

James Chaney, the owner and operator of Top Shelf Hydro College, was also arrested at his home in Phoenix during the service of a search warrant.  Also seized during the warrants were large amounts of cash and eight guns, which included two assault rifles, one shotgun and three handguns. Three vehicles were also seized.

Tempe police narcotic detectives have been working closely with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office on the investigation. There may still be more arrests at a later time, Pooley said.

Compassion clubs opened in Phoenix-area strip malls and office parks when medical marijuana advocates became frustrated by the long delay between the state Medical Marijuana Act passing in 2010 and dispensaries opening.

Arizona has more than 35,000 residents with medical marijuana cards but only six dispensaries where card-holders can legally obtain the drug.

Compassion clubs aren't regulated while the dispensaries are tightly regulated.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.  CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.

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