On Monday, February 12, 2018, the Rutherford County (TN) Sheriff’s Department locked up 23 businesses and indicted 21 citizens for allegedly selling illegal substances. “Operation Candy Crush”, as the department named it, targeted local businesses suspected of selling candy-like products infused with cannabidiol (CBD) but, it the product was actually laced with a dangerous chemical know as a “spice,” a synthetic cannabinoid.
Rutherford County Sheriff, Mike Fitzhugh, purported that the stores were selling “synthetic cannabinoid” disguised as “mood enhancing” candy. The items, purchased by undercover detectives during the investigation, were found to contain “spice”. Authorities seemed to be confusing the illegal substance known as “spice” on the streets with legal, and beneficial, CBD derived from industrial hemp. Cannabidiol (CBD) is an essential extract oil derived from the hemp plant which is used to treat a variety of medical conditions including epilepsy, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Despite the mix-up by authorities, protestors stood outside of the Rutherford County Judicial building on Friday, February 20, 2018, to voice their opposition to the arrests and store closings. Many individuals expressed the beneficial impact of legal CBD products on their own medical conditions and condemned local authorities for taking action against stores and store owners who sell CBD products in a legal manner. The closed stores were once again open for business the same week they were raided. According to the Sheriff’s office, court hearings are pending.