TN DA Drops Charges Against Retailers Arrested in ‘Operation Candy Crush’
It was only about a month ago that 23 store owners in Rutherford Tennessee were arrested for selling CBD hemp oil – which is legal in the state, as well as around the country. The accusations were that the oil was derived from medical marijuana, not hemp – making it technically illegal; however, store owners, producers, and advocates for CBD oil use maintained that the oil came from hemp plants, therefore was legal.
The state didn’t waste any time on indictments, they had several store owners arraigned before the padlocks were taken off their stores. However, just as February came to a close, those who had just been indicted were notified that the District Attorney was going to be dropping the charges against them.
“We were notified Friday that the DA is dropping the charges,” one store owner, Stacey Hamilton, said on Monday February 26. “I’m elated and angry, very angry. From the moment I found out what they were doing, I knew I had committed no crime.”
It was up to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to prove that the CBD products that had been confiscated in the Operation Candy Crush raids were in fact derived from medical marijuana and not industrial hemp. Unfortunately for the state, but very fortunately for the store owners, the TBI informed the DA that they were not able to testify that the items contained illegal marijuana derivatives.
This left District Attorney General Jennings Jones no choice but to drop the charges – and admit that the TBI did not consider the possibility that the CBD products in question had been derived from legal industrial hemp in the first place.
“This has caused an enormous cost to all the store owners,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think they’ll apologize in nearly as public a way as they condemned us as drug dealers.”
While the charges have been dropped, ending any legal trouble for these store owners, they still haven’t come out of this unscathed. They must still make up for the sales and likely products lost during the time their stores were closed – not even including the revenue lost on the CBD products that were confiscated by the state. Hopefully, in time, they will be able to recover their losses – and get back to selling a valued herbal medicine.