Police Dismiss Charges Against Tennessee Stores Raided for Selling CBD Products
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation initially said these products were illegally derived from marijuana, but later admitted that their tests could not support this claim.
Published on March 2, 2018

Tennessee law enforcement have dismissed all charges against local stores accused of selling CBD edibles that were allegedly "laced with marijuana." Last month, a task force of local, state, and federal law enforcement launched "Operation Candy Crush," raiding 23 stores in Rutherford County and seizing CBD edibles. Cops seized the businesses' cash registers, along with their stock of medical cannabis products, and shut them down for several days.

The sale of hemp-derived CBD edibles and oils was legalized in the state last year, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) assured District Attorney General Jennings Jones that these stores were selling products illegally derived from marijuana, not hemp. Prosecutors took the seized products to a state testing lab to determine whether or not they were legal under state law, but the lab was unable to determine whether the CBD contained in the products was derived from hemp or marijuana.

"Our laboratory analysis can only determine relevant compounds, not the particular origin of those substances," the TBI wrote in an official statement reported by WKRN. "So, in this matter, we are not able to determine whether the CBD in these cases originated from industrial hemp, illicit marijuana, or synthetic production. In fact, such a determination is beyond the capability of contemporary drug identification."

"It now appears that the TBI lab reports, if they had been accurately written, should have stated that their findings were 'inconclusive' as to whether cannabidiol is a controlled substance," Jones said in the statement, according to the Murfreesboro Post. "The cannabidiol substance detected by the TBI lab in the edible candies is identical in composition to the same extract from hemp products, which are distinct under the law from marijuana products."

As a result of the findings, all charges against the businesses and their owners have been dismissed. Criminal records relating to these charges will be expunged, and all property seized during the raids will eventually be returned. "Obviously, it's a victory just not for me or the business owners, but it's a victory for the industry that's only out to help people," Swain Rieves, owner of Cloud 9 Hemp, which was raided during the operation, said to WKRN.

Although relieved that the charges have been dropped, many of the business owners are angry that police raided their businesses and seized their cash, rather than attempting to communicate with them. Attorney Kevin Latta, who represents several of the businesses raided during the operation, told the Murfreesboro Post that his clients are "relieved … but they are indignant and they have been through a lot." Latta told WKRN that while other states have been able to ensure full compliance with local cannabis laws by simply sending letters to business owners, Tennessee law enforcement spent "untold tens of thousands of dollars" raiding these stores with nothing to show for it.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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