James Chaney, the owner of a Tempe medical-marijuana club that was the site of a shooting last year, was arrested today in a raid of the club and two alleged Tempe "grow houses."
In a news release that invites the media to talk to cops about the raids at, hilariously, 4:20 p.m., Tempe police detail how search warrants were served today at the Top Shelf Hydro College, (formerly AZ Go Green), at 1706 East Curry Road, two alleged grow houses and Chaney's residence in Phoenix. More arrests may be coming, cops say.
Chaney was arrested in 2011 following a raid by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on the compassion club's old location, 426 East Southern Avenue. The feds referred the case to the office of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Chaney claimed his club's activities were backed by the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. A grand jury refused to indict.
Amazingly, the club sprouted again in the same office-front location, continuing to offer "medicine" for card-carrying medical-marijuana patients.
Then came October's shooting, which wounded an employee.
Police said at the time that the club had already been under investigation.
It was hardly the first. Such clubs have proliferated across the state, filling the void left by Governor Jan Brewer's heavy-handed actions against the dispensary portion of the medical-pot law.
Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery have warned repeatedly against selling marijuana outside the boundaries of the law, and Montgomery's obtained several guilty pleas from former club affiliates, like medical-marijuana marketer Al Sobol, of whom we wrote last year.
Several clubs -- and at least one medical-marijuana "vapor lounge" -- remain open in the Valley. Last week, a group that included owners of some of the state-authorized dispensaries rallied at the State Capitol, and one of their points was that it's time for the clubs to go.
Police seized several firearms while serving the warrants, including two "assault rifles." Cops say they're working closely with Montgomery's office on this one.
Click here for the news release, (in a .doc file), if you want to see police pictures of the rifles and the interior of the grow houses. Police say 120 plants were seized.