Phoenix police shut down illegal medical marijuana dispensary

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 8 at 12:49 PM

Map: Green Thumb Academy

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PHOENIX – Phoenix police have shut down an illegal marijuana dispensary near Thomas Road and Seventh Street.

Detectives from the Drug Enforcement Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department served a search warrant at the Green Thumb Academy Thursday morning after receiving information in February that it was operating without a license.

"When the marked police cars escorting the detectives arrived, several people who were 'volunteering' at the business attempted to leave, but were apprehended," said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

Police said the employees called themselves volunteers and accepted "non-negotiable donations" in exchange for marijuana.

Detectives seized approximately 6.5 pounds of marijuana and $1,000.

The Green Thumb Academy had been in operation for about a year. Police began an investigation after legal medical marijuana dispensaries reported the business did not have a license.

"I didn't think it was illegal. No cops had been there before," said Danzel Loring, who owns DL's Barber Shop next door. "I don't ask questions. I don't want to be involved, whether it was legal or illegal. I just maintain my business and that's all."

Green Thumb Academy was listed on Leafly alongside state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

"Maybe some of the patients that come here are legitimate patients that need medical marijuana for whatever purposes, but from the business standpoint, I'd say that they're in it for the income," said Lt. Darren Loring with the Drug Enforcement Bureau.

Gerren Gordon said his girlfriend is a medical marijuana cardholder and had visited Green Thumb Academy before.

"Who knows where they were actually getting their marijuana from. I mean, was it safe? Was there other things in it? It kind of makes you wonder a little bit about where they are getting their supply from," he said.

Gordon also worried that busts like these will threaten the legal dispensaries.

"We don't want people trying to take them away from people who need them just because a few bad people don't want to abide by the law," he said.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.

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