Medical Marijuana Store Shut Down, Owners Arrested

Spokane police on Thursday raided a medical marijuana store, shutting it down, arresting the owners and warning similar operations to close, too.

Police said it was the first time in the state that medical marijuana distributors had been arrested on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.

Law officers searched a store called Change, along with four private residences. Change opened earlier this year. Arrested were co-owners Scott Q. Shupe, 54, and Christopher P. Stevens, 36.

Police said the business was selling marijuana to more than 1,000 customers. The dispensary was closed, and police warned other medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane to close their businesses as well.

Shupe was also arrested several weeks ago in Oregon while driving to Washington with four pounds of marijuana.

State law allows caretakers to purchase marijuana for medical marijuana cardholders, but Spokane police contend it remains illegal for anyone to provide it to more than one patient at a time.

Washington voters passed Initiative 692 -- the Medical Use of Marijuana Act -- in 1998. The Legislature in 2007 asked the Department of Health to define a legal supply of marijuana. The agency determined that an authorized person could possess a 60-day supply, or 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana or 15 plants. Qualifying patients have to grow their own, as marijuana is not legal to buy or sell, the agency said.

Regardless of state laws, marijuana is outlawed by the federal government, which does not accept that marijuana has medical benefits.