Rutherford County law enforcement agencies raided 23 businesses and served 21 indictments on people accused of selling hemp-derived products.
“Teams of officers from Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, La Vergne, the TBI, DEA and FBI conducted raids on stores selling candy containing marijuana derivatives,” Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said.
Dubbed "Operation Candy Crush," the indictments come from undercover officers from the Sheriff’s Office and Smyrna Police Department purchasing products containing cannabinol, a.k.a., CBD, at the 23 stores.
“We feel these stores are marketing these items toward minors,” Fitzhugh said, referring gummy bears and other candy-flavored items.
Officers confiscated the items and padlocked the stores.
Twenty-three stores believed selling products resembling candy and containing a hemp derivative were padlocked on court orders Monday after a Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and Smyrna Police Department investigation.
Fitzhugh said sheriff’s narcotics detectives and Smyrna Police launched the investigation last year following complaints from parents and advertisements about the products.
Cannabidiol is a derivative of hemp that has been sold in Tennessee since 2015. It is sold in the form of liquids used in vapors or as a nutritional supplement, as well as gummy bears, gummy worms and items that commonly look like candy.
The businesses were padlocked by a court order by a Circuit Court judge after evidence was presented that the businesses were selling illegal substances and were deemed a public nuisance.
Court hearings are pending for both the people indicted and the public nuisance matters.
In 2015, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into state law that relaxed the state's rules that govern CBD. Rutherford County District Attorney Jennings Jones interpreted the law to mean citizens have the right use the products, but stores do not have the right to sell them
"I believe you need a prescription to buy them and a judge agreed with me," Jones said, adding the TBI classified products containing CBD as a schedule VI drug so he treated them as such.
There was some disagreement between the reporters present at the press conference and the law enforcement representatives about the law.
When asked if similar products that are sold at big-box retailers were also seized, the law enforcement representatives said they weren't aware of the products being sold there. But some retailers sell hemp seeds and CBD "essential oils."
They also said the products are used "to get high," even though CBD does not cause that reaction.
The officers also seized products that contain synthetic drugs confirmed to cause two deaths in the United States.
Last Stop Market, 6858 Lascassas Pike.
Vapesboro, 1675 Middle Tennessee Boulevard,
Stop-N-Go, 1624B New Salem Highway,
Stop-N-Shop, 490 Andrews Drive,
Enchanted Planet, 109 East Lytle Street,
T&B Tobacco & Beer, 5524 N.W. Broad Street,
Quick Stop Discount Tobacco and Beer, 1722 S. Rutherford Boulevard,
99 Cents Discount Tobacco, 3325 Memorial Boulevard,
Kaleidoscope, 3325 Memorial Boulevard,
Y&H Discount Tobacco and Beer, 2075 Lascassas Pike,
A&M Tobacco & Beer, 2075 Lascassas Pike,
Kaleidoscope, 2992 S. Church St. and
Magical Vapors, 517 W. Main St.
Kwik Sak, 1219 Hazelwood Drive,
TN Vape & Smoke, 901 Rock Springs Road,
Stop & Shop Tobacco & Beer, 901 Rock Springs Road,
One Stop Shop Tobacco & Beer, 1872 Almaville Road,
Magical Vapors, 504 East Enon Springs Road, and
Cloud 9, 105 Jefferson Street.
Waldron Market, 606 Waldron Road,
Family Market Discount Tobacco and Beer, 546 Waldron Road,
Tobacco Brew & Chew, 5104 Waldron Road and
La Vergne Vapor, 5234 Murfreesboro Road.
Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics, true crime, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)murfreesborovoice.com.