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Court clears some CBD sales in Catoosa County, Georgia after store owner sues sheriff’s office

Certain products containing extracts of cannabidiol, a chemical found in hemp, can again be sold in Catoosa County stores, according to a court ruling issued Tuesday afternoon.

The case began when Joe King, owner of a store selling CBD derivatives, sued the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office after the sheriff demanded that all stores in the county stop selling most products to the CBD.

Sheriff Gary Sisk said people were affected by the products and that many hemp derivatives were illegal. King argued that CBD derivatives are beneficial to its customers and are not specifically prohibited.

Due to the ruling, CBD products were back on the shelves of The Shoppe, the store King owns in Fort Oglethorpe, on Tuesday afternoon. In a phone interview, King said it was one of about 10 stores in the Fort Oglethorpe area that sell CBD products, and there are several more in Ringgold and throughout the county.

In the ruling, Catoosa County Superior Court Judge Brian House said it is clear there is a difference in interpretation regarding the legality of hemp derivatives under Georgia law. The issue is best resolved by Georgia lawmakers, House said, but his court would grant the request if either party to the case requested that the decision be directed to a higher court.

(READ MORE: Fort Oglethorpe CBD store owner sues Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office over right to sell products)

Stores in every other northwest Georgia county except Catoosa sell CBD derivatives without legal challenge, King said, adding that they are purchased for pain relief, insomnia and anxiety – although he does not claim to be a doctor or a pharmacist.

“Unfortunately, if we want change, we’ll have to be the change ourselves,” King said. “If he (Sisk) keeps fighting it, we’ll keep fighting it. We know our product is helping.”

CBD gummies are still banned, House said. King said he needed to speak with the community of people supporting his legal challenge before deciding whether to ask the court to allow the sale of CBD gummies.

Hemp was federally legalized under the Farm Bill in 2018. Georgia legalized hemp and its derivatives in 2019.

A legal limit of 0.3% for tetrahydrocannabinol or THC has been set for delta-9, a derivative of CBD, but King argues that delta-8 and other painkiller derivatives have no threshold of THC because the thresholds are not specifically mentioned in the law.

Staff photo by Olivia Ross/The Shoppe, pictured August 1, 2022, has sued Catoosa County after being forced to remove delta-8 products from shelves.

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

Hemp is the same plant as cannabis, but with much less THC, which is the chemical that gets people high.

“The court finds that Georgia lawmakers would have explicitly limited certain hemp products (as well as) with delta-8 if they wanted it to be illegal, which they did not,” House said in the statement. her decision.

The ruling does not address the issue of packaging and marketing of CBD products, House said, and law enforcement is “not prohibited” from enforcing those laws.

In February, Sisk sent letters to King and other CBD retailers, warning them they could be prosecuted for selling illegal products. In that letter, he said some CBD products sold in the county had illegally high levels of THC and labels that misrepresent the effect or THC levels of their products.

Sisk was interviewed about the decision Tuesday night on a local access cable channel called UCTV in North Georgia.

There are several other court cases pending regarding CBD, Sisk said, and he thinks state and federal authorities need to legally get on the same page.

“It’s really complicated,” Sisk said.

(READ MORE: Elisha Millan deals with a culture of complexities in the hemp trade)

Despite the ruling, Sisk said stores are still liable for the products sold – as he said some CBD product labels illegally misrepresent the effect of the product, citing a separate Georgia law that requires truth in labeling.

“We just told stores that they are responsible for what they sell,” Sisk said.

Sisk said he would like to see the General Assembly review laws regarding hemp derivatives. Some CBD derivatives have been synthesized to have high levels of THC and are allowed to be sold legally in what he called a “loophole” in the law. Sisk said he would like to see the law clarified by setting the standard of 0.3% THC “in all areas” for all CBD derivatives – not just delta-9.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at [email protected] or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @tweetatwilkins.