Rutherford County law enforcement officials have closed 23 stores that were selling products containing cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, that distributors and local industry representatives argue are legal in Tennessee.

Officers from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne Police Departments, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation closed the stores on Monday after receiving a court order from Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor.

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said there were 21 indictments issued by the Rutherford County Grand Jury for individuals selling the products, mainly a candy that resembled Gummie Bears with CBD, a derivative of marijuana and hemp.

“We’d like to inform the parents to be aware of what your children are bringing home with them,” Fitzhugh said in a news conference outside one of the businesses closed. "It's an illegal drug. It's a CBD product. It's a derivative of marijuana, and it is an illegal drug except in medical situations."

"If you possess this without a prescription, you've broken the law," said Rutherford County District Attorney General Jennings Jones. "If you are selling it without a prescription or you're not a pharmacy selling it to someone with a prescription for it, you've broken the law."

Fitzhugh said his department received a tip from a parent about the candy being brought home by their child.

Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold said he had one of his agents enter a store in his town and ask the clerk for the product.

“This is not an obscure object sitting on their shelf. (The clerks) know what it is,” Arnold said at the news conference. "This is something all of our children, our grandkids would look at and determine it's good to eat when, in fact, it's not. It's containing things in there that should not be available to the general public."

The distributor of one of the products reached out to News 4 arguing the product is completely legal.

In a statement from the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association, president Joe Kirkpatrick said:"The label states that the CBD is derived from hemp. Perhaps, it should be more specific and say "industrial hemp", but the product is compliant. Unless law enforcement can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this CBD was derived from a marijuana source rather than an industrial hemp source, they are in clear violation of the law, and the victims of this action should be entitled to petition for any economic and/or punitive damages applicable under the law.

The law is very clear that an ingestible or topical industrial hemp derived products are legal as long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC. It is not clear from the labeling whether the product contains CBD isolate or full spectrum extract, but both are legal under Tennessee law.

The TNHIA wants all products in Tennessee to be compliant and provide accurate sourcing data which would be easily achieved by a QR code on the labeling which would describe the source of the genetics, the farm and any third party certificates of analysis that exist as a result of batch testing."The businesses padlocked were Lascassas: Last Stop Market, 6858 Lascassas Pike; Murfreesboro: Vapesboro. 1675 Middle Tennessee Blvd., Stop-N-Go, 1624B New Salem Highway, Stop-N-Shop, 490 St. Andrews Dr., Enchanted Planet, 109 E. Lytle St., T&B Tobacco & Beer, 5524 NW Broad St., Quick Stop Discount Tobacco and Beer, 1722 S. Rutherford Blvd., 99 Cents Discount Tobacco, 3325 Memorial Blvd., Kaleidoscope, 3325 Memorial Blvd., Y&H Discount Tobacco and Beer, 2075 Lascassas Pike, A&M Tobacco & Beer, 2075 Lascassas Pike; Kaleidoscope, 2992 S. Church St., Magical Vapors, 517 W. Main St. Smyrna: Kwik Sak, 1219 Hazelwood Dr., TN Vape & Smoke, 901 Rock Springs Rd., Stop & Shop Tobacco & Beer, 901 Rock Springs Rd., One Stop Shop Tobacco & Beer, 1872 Almaville Rd., Magical Vapors, 505 E. Enon Springs Rd., Cloud 9, 105 Jefferson St. La Vergne: Waldron Market, 606 Waldron Rd., Family Market Discount Tobacco and Beer, 546 Waldron Rd., Tobacco Brew & Chew, 5104 Waldron Rd., La Vergne Vapor, 5234 Murfreesboro Rd.

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Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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