As if the medical marijuana situation in Arizona isn't already contentious, on Tuesday Tempe police raided Top Shelf Hydro College, a marijuana storefront locale that police say operated in violation of Arizona's yet-to-be-implemented 2010 law by “disguising” itself as a medical pot provider.
The owner of Top Shelf, James Earl Chaney, was arrested at his Phoenix home and remained in custody as of the last report. Cops also raided two private residences in Tempe that were being utilized as grow houses and allegedly supplying Top Shelf Hydro College with marijuana. In all, authorities seized 120 plants and an undisclosed amount of bundled dried cannabis flowers.
Police claim to have monitored Chaney since October 2012 when his pot business went by the name of AZ Go Green. Prior to the raid, Tempe PD conducted an undercover investigation in which narcs purchased pot from Top Shelf over a period of several months, those sales being in violation of state law, in which only a half-dozen licensed dispensaries statewide may legally distribute medicinal cannabis to patients.
Chaney's opportunism is an example of the spontaneous, unregulated, and therefore illegal commercial marijuana providers that have popped up in the past year in Phoenix metro-area strip malls and office parks in response to the frustration experienced by the more than 30,000 Arizona pot patients waiting for the state’s program to take effect.
Police are working the Top Shelf case in conjunction with Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery who, as reported earlier this week, has become a major obstacle to the implementation of Arizona’s medical pot program.