Charges Dropped Against Stores Raided In 'Operation Candy Crush'

Posted at 12:00 PM, Feb 28, 2018

The District Attorney has signed an order dropping all charges against Rutherford County stores raided for selling gummies made from CBD oil.

The order signed by District Attorney Jennings Jones dropped the charges against 23 stores that were raided two weeks ago for selling CBD gummies.

Reports stated it could not be proven if the gummies were made from legal CBD oil from hemp or illegal CBD oil made from marijuana.

That issue must now be hashed out between prosecutors and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The case was dubbed Operation Candy Crush. The businesses were closed after being raided for the gummies, but that temporary injunction was later lifted by the judge, allowing them to reopen.

Authorities said all cash and products will be returned to the store owners.

According to the District Attorney's office, they said they "initiated actions to enforce the law in this case because the TBI assured us that the items being sold at various businesses in Rutherford County were infused with illegal controlled substances."

[Two assistants from the District Attorney’s office] made TBI officials aware of our concerns that several lab reports they had issued declared that edible products that had been purchased by police officers contained a substance called cannabidiol and listed that substance as a Schedule VI controlled substance.

Information from the District Attorney later continued:

It now appears that the TBI lab reports, if they had been accurately written, should have stated that their findings were “inconclusive” as to whether cannabidiol is a controlled substance. The cannabidiol substance detected by the TBI lab in the edible candies is identical in composition to the same extract from hemp products, which are distinct under the law from marijuana products.

Read the entire statement from District Attorney Jones here.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded with the following statement:

In this matter, it is inaccurate for the local stakeholders in these cases to assert they made decisions in this case unaware of the limits of our forensic work.

The role of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in laboratory analysis is to objectively analyze submitted evidence. We make no determination of the legality of situations involving the evidence we examine, and, in fact, our Forensic Scientists are rarely aware of the circumstances involving the evidence submitted for analysis.

Our laboratory analysis can only determine relevant compounds, not the particular origin of those substances. So, in this matter, we are not able to determine whether the CBD in these cases originated from industrial hemp, illicit marijuana, or synthetic production. In fact, such a determination is beyond the capability of contemporary drug identification. Still, the identified CBD, as a derivative of marijuana, may be considered a Schedule VI substance under the Tennessee Code, which is why our agency reported it that way to the local law enforcement agency and District Attorney General.

In the midst of this process, we clearly explained – in detail – the limitations of our analysis to all stakeholders. We did so to ensure they fully knew that, though we could identify CBD, we were not able to identify its origin.

We also explained to them the nuance of the included schedule on our lab reports, which are provided as a courtesy. In this instance, we listed the schedule out of an abundance of caution because the sample could have met the standard for schedule as spelled out in the law. Local agencies and prosecutors – including those in Rutherford County – are well aware of that nuance.

During the recent news conference on these cases, General Jones acknowledged himself that a substance being identified as a particular schedule does not make it inherently illegal. The circumstances of the possession or transfer – as determined by the local law enforcement agency and interpreted by the District Attorney General – make something “illegal.”

Again, to be clear: TBI lab reports objectively determine the compound present, but in no way are statements of compound origin, circumstances of possession, or guilt or innocence. Though we identified the substance and the relevant schedule, we made no determination about the legality of the substance or the circumstance in Rutherford County. That was a decision solely made -- as in all cases -- by the local agency and District Attorney General.

Read More:
23 Rutherford Co. Stores Padlocked For Allegedly Selling Candy With CBD
Judge Allows Businesses To Reopen After 'Operation Candy Crush'
Charges Could Be Dropped In 'Operation Candy Crush'
What's Legal And Illegal About CBD Oil In Tennessee