All charges have been dropped against owners of 23 stores arrested for selling cannabidiol based products in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
The raids, dubbed Operation Candy Crush, happened earlier this month also saw goods seized and the stores involved padlocked. The products were apparently deemed to contained Schedule 6 controlled substances by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
“The District Attorney’s office initiated actions to enforce the law in this case because the TBI assured us that the items being sold and various businesses in Rutherford County were infused with illegal controlled substances,” says part of a statement from District Attorney General Jennings Jones.
However, the DA announced yesterday the charges will be dropped and records expunged as a result of TBI chemists being unable to determine if the cannabidiol detected was extracted from industrial hemp or marijuana plants – products from the former are legal (although cannabidiol exists in a grey area), the latter illegal. The lab was also unable to determine levels of THC.
“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,” said Mr. Jones.
As well as the dropping of charges, all products seized will be returned to their owners.
The attorney of one of the store owners involved questioned the heavy-handed nature of the raids, saying that in other counties, store owners are sent “please explain” type letters regarding questionable products.
The padlocked stores, which were deemed a “public nuisance” and thus allowing the action, had previously been permitted to re-open after the raids under the orders from a judge.
In other medical cannabis related news out of Tennessee, the wheels of government have been turning in the right direction.
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved HB 1749 by 4:3 earlier this week, with the tie-breaking vote cast by House Speaker Beth Harwell
HB 1749/SB 1710 would legalise and decriminalise possession, consumption, cultivation, processing, purchase, transportation and sale of medical cannabis and its derivatives in Tennessee. It would also establish “marijuana” as not including oil containing cannabidiol, with less than 0.9 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol.