Earlier in February, a months-long, seven-agency sting operation shut down nearly two dozen stores for allegedly selling illegal marijuana products that look like candy. But the misguided law enforcement sting appears to have backfired.
All charges are expected to be dropped after several stores in Rutherford County were padlocked and accused of illegally selling CBD gummies. But the candy in question contained CBD from industrial hemp, and law enforcement officials admitted the products did not contain any THC, the psychoactive substance found in cannabis.
According to Nashville-based NewsChannel 5:
Testing cannot determine whether the gummies were made from industrial hemp CBD oil –which is legal – or from marijuana CBD oil – which can be illegal. As a result, prosecutors cannot make the case in court, and charges are expected to be dropped. If that happens, the cash and gummies will be returned to the merchants. NewsChannel 5 has also learned that several of those merchants are considering lawsuits.
Twenty-three stores were padlocked by law enforcement groups for days before Judge Royce Taylor, who initially signed the warrants, dissolved the temporary injunction and allowed them to reopen last week.
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“TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigations] is no longer willing to testify that this is a Schedule VI substance. We have no choice but to dismiss,” District Attorney Jennings Jones said on Wednesday.
“We were notified Friday that the DA is dropping the charges,” Stacey Hamilton, a store owner hit by the sting, told the Daily News Journal. “I’m elated and angry, very angry. From the moment I found out what they were doing, I knew I had committed no crime. This has caused an enormous cost to all the store owners,” Hamilton added. “I don’t think they’ll apologize in nearly as public a way as they condemned us as drug dealers.”
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Industrial hemp is legal in Tennessee.