Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, CBD store sues Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office for right to sell products

The owner of a small business in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, is suing the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office over what he says is his legal right to sell extracts of cannabidiol, a chemical found in hemp.

“Ultimately we decided, hey, we’re going to file a lawsuit or a restraining order, we’re going to try to do something to get our product back because it’s legal in the state of Georgia and most of the 50 states,” Joe King . , owner of the Shoppe, said in a telephone interview.

A hearing was held Friday, and King said it lasted all day. He said he believes the court case is going in his favor, and Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Judge Brian House is expected to make a decision within 30 days. King said he hopes to return to selling CBD in his store after the ruling.

research compiled by Harvard University suggests that CBD can help with anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and help reduce cravings for tobacco and heroin. Research is ongoing, but the fact that most CBD is sold as a supplement, not a medicine, allows it to avoid Federal Drug Administration regulations regarding purity and safety.

King, while cautioning that he’s not a doctor or pharmacist, said CBD is “a medicinal thing” and people want it because they think it helps. He said he has seen people wean themselves off opioids and treat pain. King uses the products to treat her anxiety and depression, she said.

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The CBD store is suing to sell its products in Catoosa County

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“I’ve had people come in and say, ‘I’m doing everything I can to get off this, or this, or that,’ and I’ve helped a lot of people get off hard substances with this product.” King said. “Things that used to kill them, and now they’re living their best lives.”

“If this is wrong,” King said, “if they say it’s worthy of being put in jail, then stab me now because I’m still going to continue to help people.”

In February, King received a letter from the Sheriff’s Office warning that “prosecution and seizures” would follow if his business continued to sell products that the sheriff said tested for an illegal amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The Shoppe sells vaping supplies, pipes, dyed t-shirts, Dr. soap. Squatch and stuff, King said.

“We have already had several incidents in our community where minors have had adverse reactions to vapors and other products containing tetrahydrocannabinol,” Sheriff Gary Sisk said in the letter. “I’m not saying you’re the store that sold them, but that’s one of the reasons we don’t want this in our community. Also, it’s a violation of Georgia law.”

Sisk said products sold by the Shoppe contain more THC than is listed on the label and manufacturers are misrepresenting their product. The sheriff said these products may be legal in a few years, but they are not now.

“It’s not the law now, and that’s what I’m sworn to uphold,” Sisk said.

Hemp derivatives were legalized in the federal farm bill of 2018. Hemp and cannabis, also known as marijuana, are the same plant species, but hemp has less THC, the chemical that makes people high. demand In the farm bill, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC. Cannabis plants can contain up to 30% THC.

Law in 2019, Georgia House Bill 213 legalized hemp and its derivatives. State and federal law set a 0.3% limit for THC in delta-9, a derivative of CBD, but King argues that delta-8 and other pain-killing derivatives do not have threshold limits because they are not specifically mentioned in the law.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration issued warnings on delta-8. One of more than 100 cannabinoids naturally contained in traces of hemp, delta-8 is concentrated from hemp-derived CBD, but is often mismarketed as a medicine, according to the release.

“It is important for consumers to be aware that delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context,” the FDA said in its warning.

Also in May, letters were sent to companies the FDA claimed were illegally selling CBD and delta-8 products. The warnings were issued after an increase in adverse event reports, the FDA said.

(READ MORE: Cannabis Chemical Delta-8 Legal Under Georgia Law, Lawsuit Claims)

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force sent a letter similar to Sisk’s in March, prompting stores in Dade, Walker and Chattooga counties to pull CBD derivatives from their shelves.

King said the multijurisdictional drug task force has been “retired” until a court case in Gwinnett County addressing the same issue regarding the sale of CBD derivatives is resolved. Task force representatives were asked for comment on the case and their approach to CBD investigations, but did not respond by deadline.

(READ MORE: Georgia lawmakers expected to overhaul medical cannabis system)

Asked for comment on the case and whether his office’s stance had changed after Friday’s hearing, Sisk said by email, “This is an ongoing civil/criminal case that I cannot comment on this moment”.

King said his store’s delta-9 is within legal limits, and the store has certificates of analysis to prove it. In addition, King said his attorneys questioned some technical aspects of the equipment the Sheriff’s Office uses to test products for THC content.

King said pressure from the sheriff’s office is hurting his small business and hurting people who use the products to treat pain and anxiety.

(READ MORE: CBD retail sector takes flight with at least 30 stores in Chattanooga area)

The community sees how the products are helping people, King said, but he believes the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office does not. Several members of the community attended the court hearing to offer support, and King said some told him they showed up because they wanted to see someone stand up to the sheriff.

There are five or six other stores and several gas stations in Catoosa County that sell CBD, and King said they’ve all pulled that type of product. Officials in Dade, Walker and Chattooga counties aren’t concerned about processing delta-8 and other minor cannabinoid products, he said, “but everyone is still behind us. We still have the full support of all the other stores.”

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @tweetatwilkins.

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