James Earl Chaney

Tempe police arrested an Ahwatukee Foothills man on Tuesday accused of operating a “compassion club,” dispensing medical marijuana illegally.

On Jan. 29, Tempe police served six search warrants following an investigation into a Tempe business. Top Shelf Hydro College, formerly called AZ Go Green, was selling medical marijuana, according to police, which is in violation of the new medical marijuana laws. The owner and operator of Top Shelf Hydro College, James Earl Chaney of Ahwatukee Foothills, was arrested on Tuesday.

Police began investigating the business located at 426 E. Southern Ave. after receiving several complaints from residents and businesses in the area, said Sgt. Michael Pooley, a Tempe Police spokesman. There was also a shooting at the location on Oct. 25. As part of their investigation undercover detectives began purchasing quantities of marijuana at Top Shelf Hydro College.

“This morning Tempe detectives served a search warrant on the business now located at 1706 E. Curry Road in Tempe, and found a marijuana grow as well as a large quantity of individually wrapped amounts of marijuana,” Pooley said in a statement on Tuesday.

During the investigation two houses in Tempe were identified as “grow houses.” When those houses were searched Tempe SWAT discovered more than 120 plants, which they seized and destroyed.

Police also found large amounts of cash, eight guns and three vehicles.

“Tempe police narcotic detectives have been working closely with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on this investigation and are continuing to investigate,” Pooley said. “There may still be more arrests at a later time.”

Pooley said “compassion club” is not a legal term, but it’s what businesses like this call themselves. According to Arizona law, marijuana card holders can grow their own marijuana and can share a certain amount with other card holders, but they cannot sell it. These businesses set up shops stocked with marijuana and products containing marijuana but claim to be giving it to marijuana card holders for donation only. The compassion clubs are not carefully regulated like dispensaries.

Top Shelf Hydro College had listed prices for its marijuana and employees at the stores sold marijuana to undercover detectives, Pooley said. Maricopa County only has one licensed dispensary, located in Glendale.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.