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Hemp sellers sue Tennessee prosecutor over $1.35M seizure


Two Tennessee hemp companies are suing a local prosecutor and police department, alleging they illegally seized $1.35 million worth of hemp products, Law360 reported.

The plaintiffs, Old School Sales LLC, which does business as Old School Vapor, and SAK Wholesale LLC, claim that District Attorney General Brent Cooper and the Spring Hill Police Department violated their constitutional rights by seizing hemp from several Old School Vapor stores and a SAK Wholesale warehouse on May 9 without charging the companies or employees with any crimes. The search warrants were allegedly unrelated to hemp or cannabis, according to a complaint filed Monday in federal court.

Old School Vapor and SAK Wholesale said they provided authorities with certificates of analysis showing the seized hemp contained 0.3% or less delta-9 THC, in compliance with Tennessee and federal law defining legal hemp. However, the complaint alleges Cooper told officers hemp was “the same damn thing” as illegal marijuana.

The complaint also alleges that police lacked proper testing equipment to distinguish legal hemp from marijuana.

In total, $1.18 million of hemp was seized from the SAK Wholesale warehouse and $168,000 of product  taken from four Old School Vapor stores, according to the complaint. Williamson County deputies allegedly refused to seize hemp at a fifth store, stating it “wasn’t in the warrant.” The hemp has not been returned, with Cooper citing pending test results, the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs argue in the complaint that Cooper “demonstrated an ignorance of the law when it comes to hemp and its testing.” They seek the hemp’s return, at least $1.35 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages, and an order requiring a hemp law expert to educate the prosecutor’s office and police on relevant statutes.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp federally, and Tennessee set its state law using the same definition  used at the federal level. The lawsuit details Tennessee’s subsequent regulations on hemp-derived cannabinoid products, arguing they demonstrate the state’s recognition of hemp as a legal substance distinct from marijuana.

However, confusion persists among some law enforcement agencies in distinguishing legal hemp from illegal marijuana, as field tests often cannot determine exact delta-9 THC levels, the plaintiffs claim. They allege in the complaint that “each day that goes by increases the likelihood that the hemp will be ruined and unavailable for future retail sale” because the “Defendants likely failed to store the hemp in an appropriate manner.”


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