In mid-February, PotNetwork reported on an incident that took place in Tennessee’s Rutherford County. State police there raided and padlocked 23 businesses selling candy containing the cannabinoid CBD, claiming it was an illegal “synthetic drug.”
Operation “Candy Crush” indicted 18 people on charges of selling controlled substances, according to a statement from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff's office posted a news release including photos of the confiscated products on their facebook page.
Authorities tipped off by parents in the area raided 23 businesses they suspected of selling illegal substances. Undercover detectives bought the CBD-infused products at each of the stores. Lab tests showed there was, indeed, CBD in gummy bears, gummy worms, and other candy-like products.
The president of the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association, Joe Kirkpatrick argued that the CBD was derived from industrial hemp, and therefore the product is compliant with state laws.
According to the Le Vergne Patch, each suspect was charged with at least one count of sale and possession of Schedule VI drugs which are Class E felonies in Tennessee.
The Patch now reports that the district attorney has dropped all charges in the case.
CBD Compliant Until Proven Otherwise
District Attorney General Jennings Jones claims that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) did not consider the possibility that the CBD in the items being sold were derived from industrial hemp - which is legal in Tennessee - not marijuana - which is illegal.
The burden was on the state to prove that these products did not come from hemp.
Charges were dropped after TBI refused to testify that the items being sold did in fact contained illegal marijuana derivatives. To be legal, industrial hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive element in illegal marijuana.
The follow-up statement by the DA’s office reads:
"The District Attorney's office initiated actions to enforce the law in this case because the TBI assured us that the items being sold at various businesses in Rutherford County were infused with illegal controlled substances."
The TBI responded with the following, somewhat cryptic statement:
"The role of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in laboratory analysis is to objectively analyze submitted evidence. We make no determination of the legality of situations involving the evidence we examine, and, in fact, our Forensic Scientists are rarely aware of the circumstances involving the evidence submitted for analysis… TBI lab reports objectively determine the compound present, but in no way are statements of compound origin, circumstances of possession, or guilt or innocence. Though we identified the substance and the relevant schedule, we made no determination about the legality of the substance or the circumstance in Rutherford County. That was a decision solely made — as in all cases — by the local agency and District Attorney General."
In the end, neither the TBI nor the DA’s office had any proof whatsoever that the products were non-compliant, and no evidence was ever presented to bolster any of the charges in the case.