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N4T Investigators: Dubious Dispensary - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Dubious Dispensary

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Tucson - "Yo, yo, about to go down." 

The video posted on Facebook shows four customers from a hemp oil dispensary in a vehicle parked near a building that hosts at-risk kids. The customers are about to inhale smoke coming from a vacuum pump. "Smokefest" says one of the guys in the car. Smoke soon creates a huge cloud in the vehicle. 

Another Facebook video, taken in the dispensary's back room, shows a guy taking hits from a bong. 

The videos were posted on the Facebook page belonging to the "79th Floor Glass Lounge."  It's a private club its owner says is perfectly legal. It sells hemp CBD a natural cannabinoid extracted from the marijuana plant, and many customers have medical marijuana cards, so they can legally smoke it in the privacy of the shop. The dispensary opened in January the corner of N. Alvernon and Pima St.,  next to the building for "Youth On Their Own", an organization that helps at-risk and homeless kids stay in school, providing them with food and other essentials. 

"It's about the one thing you wouldn't want to have next door to a youth homelessness organization," says Youth On Their Own Chief Executive Officer Nicola Hartmann. She says some students who come here have parents with drug problems. "And we are doing everything we can to keep them away from drugs."

Hartmann says the marijuana-like smell often wafts through the air. When the News 4 Tucson Investigators were there,  we smelled it ourselves. "Some days," Hartman says, "you can smell it like someone is smoking pot inside our lobby."

"We're not doing anything that's illegal. We're selling supplements and we're selling functional glass art," says dispensary owner Red Duran. The place is not a medical marijuana dispensary and thus is not governed by the same laws, which prohibit smoking marijuana inside those types of dispensaries. Duran also sells bongs and rolling papers besides CBD, which is sold over the counter in many places, even though the Drug Enforcement Administration says it is illegal, a schedule 1 drug. A DEA spokesperson told us the agency is focusing on the opioid epidemic and does not have the resources to crack down on CBD shops. 

 Local authorities in states that have approved medical marijuana, including Arizona, generally, certainly not everywhere, have left CBD shops alone. CBD users swear by the stuff, saying it can alleviate several medical conditions, including seizures, inflammation and anxiety, and does not give the same psycho-active high as marijuana.

Duran says the smoke it emits does smell like pot, and that he's told customers not to partake in the parking lot, after Hartmann complained to him and police. Duran says, "We had a complaint from her and since then we have changed our routine and we don't use any medical marijuana in the parking lot anymore." 

Duran says Hartmann is exaggerating the problem. We asked him about another video from the dispensary's Facebook page, showing a guy smoking a gigantic blunt in the dispensary's back room. "Yeah," Duran says. "That was my birthday party. That is marijuana, yeah." 

Hartmann says, "It's not good to have it there, in any form. Whether their doors are closed, it's not good to have a dispensary and a head shop right next to a youth homelessness organization."

Hartmann complained to her councilman, Steve Kozachik (D-Ward 6), who told us, "If these guys were sitting out in the middle of a cornfield somewhere or out in the middle of the desert, nobody would be bothering them. It's the location that really has me bothered and it has Nicola bothered as well."

We asked Hartmann, "What do you want to see happen now to the business? "I'd like to see them close the story and go away," she said. 

"I think that's pretty hateful," Duran said. "This is America the last time I checked, and we're free to do business in America."

Duran there's nothing "dubious" about his dispensary. Police visited the shop just hours before we did yesterday and Duran says cops told him,  "Keep the smell down and we'll leave you alone."

Police sent a statement to the News 4 Tucson Investigators, saying, "The Tucson Police Department is aware of the situation and the frustrations surrounding it. We are in contact with City of Tucson staff, 79th Floor, and area neighbors to help create a long term solution. We continue to study the situation and will use all available options to resolve it. If illegal activity is discovered, it will be addressed in accordance with our investigative protocols."

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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