Worker shot at Tempe medical-marijuana dispensary
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Police on Friday were looking for multiple suspects who shot and critically wounded an employee at an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary in Tempe the night before.
A group of three to six men entered the Top Shelf Med store near Southern and College avenues around 7 p.m. Thursday and confronted the worker, authorities said. The business was formerly known as AzGoGreen Co-op.
The suspects hit and then shot the employee and fled.
Officials said the victim, described as a man in his 30s, remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. His name was not released.
Police are still investigating the motives and it does not appear the suspects removed any property, Lt. Mike Horn said.
The business operates to some degree as a medical marijuana co-op, Lt. Jeffrey Glover said. Detectives helped with a federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into marijuana distribution at the business about a year ago and recently started their own probe of the business, which is ongoing, Glover said.
The city is zoned for two dispensaries when the state eventually issues it licenses, Glover said.
The shooting is believed to be the first in Tempe involving an apparent medical marijuana co-op, and it has heightened police concerns about the safety of such venues, Glover said.
He pointed to incidents in California where dispensary customers were robbed or assaulted.
"You have that potential of people being a target. There is definitely cause for concern for any community where these are placed," Glover said.
"The hope is as these dispensaries actually open that they have good security measures in place to help them not be targets and not have their customers being victimized," he said.
State health officials can license up to 126 dispensaries throughout designated areas, and more than 32,000 Arizonans have permission to use medical marijuana under a voter-approved 2010 law.
Arizona health officials have issued 44 dispensary-registration certificates, but none has completed the necessary steps to open.