BARELY LEGAL: Explaining Confusing CBD Laws

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Even though CBD is becoming quite popular, the laws related to it are very confusing – especially if you live close to a state line.

In Part I of our Barely Legal series, News 12 talked about the potential health benefits of this growing trend.

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In Part II, News 12 looks at the latest laws in both Tennessee and Georgia, and what you need to look out for if you plan to use anything with CBD in it.

“Marijuana is illegal. Hemp, however, isn’t. Hemp is safe. Hemp is accessible, and hemp helps everyone,” said Elisha Millan, Grass Roots Health owner.

Millan says the benefits of hemp are behind this CBD craze, and while some progress has been made, different laws across the country still need to catch up with its popularity.



Attorney McCracken Poston, who represents clients in both Tennessee and Georgia, agrees that the laws are not black and white.

“We have this hodge podge of laws, and we’re up here in the corner with four states pretty close, and everybody with a different rule, and that can be problematic,” Poston said.

Millan says right now laws in Georgia are stricter than in Tennessee.

“The ability to not purchase flower in the state of Georgia directly impacts those with PTSD like veterans,” Millan said. “It disparately impacts them because they need something that provides immediate relief. Smoking hemp in the flower form gives immediate relief for symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.”

Despite those restrictions, earlier this month, Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, or House Bill 213. It legalizes growing hemp with a license, like in Tennessee.

CBD oil is still not a defined term in Georgia law. We’re told hemp products generally can’t have more than 0.3% of THC when produced in compliance with the Hemp Farming Act.

“That seems to me very burdensome for anybody trying to figure out, are you going to have to test every bottle that somebody has with them? That’s going to take up time at the labs. Or are you going to rely on the label? Are you going to require that it be in the label, even though it’s not a prescribed thing? So we’re going to have a lot of growing pains, no pun intended, under this law,” Poston said.

As for Tennessee, Millan says it also has to meet a state standard of having 0.3% or less of THC.

“That’s really important in all of our products,” she said. “Any person that purchases any sort of products in the state of Tennessee should be able to talk to the person they’re purchasing their product from, and receive a lab report or verification that the product they are purchasing does not contain over the legal limit of THC.”

Millan says they have a lab report for every item they sell at her store, and they have a good working relationship with the Chattanooga police department.

“We take all of products directly over to the Chattanooga police department before we bring them into our store,” Millan said. “It’s extremely important to us that we have a good, open relationship with the police department, and that they see that we’re doing our due diligence to only carry legal products here in Tennessee.”

If someone buys a flower product from Grass Roots Health, it’s put in a sealed container.

“As long as it is sealed, we can guarantee for that customer, what they have purchased, does not contain THC,” Millan said.

She says some of her customers have been pulled over in a traffic stop before, but they were prepared to show the officers what they had.

Poston says even though hemp is legal, you should still use CBD at your own risk. Depending on how strict a law enforcement officer is, you could get arrested.

“They can arrest you on the suspicious of it,” Poston said. “You can have – we used to call it rock candy when we were kids. It’s just basically crystallized sugar. But an officer could see that and surmise that’s crack, or that’s meth, and they could arrest you for suspicion of possessing crack cocaine or methamphetamine. It’s candy since the day you got it. You shouldn’t have put it in that Ziploc bag, but it’s candy all the way to the crime lab. Until they test it, and that report comes back, you’re charged with a felony.”

As CBD continues to become more popular, Millan says to be careful about what you buy, and where you buy it.

“It’s extremely important to not purchase your CBD on the Internet,” she said. “There are a lot of counterfeit products out there, and you need to go to a specific provider who can walk you through all the lab reports they have, and verify that you are not taking a counterfeit product.”

Poston says he believes these hemp laws will eventually pave the way for legalizing marijuana.

“I think it’s just something people want, and they’re coming up with very creative ways to get it,” he said. “If that’s how it eventually pushes out, then that’ll be the way it goes, and that seems to be what we’re in the middle of now.”

“If that happens eventually here in our state, great! If it doesn’t, OK, we’re still here to help people, and we’ll be here regardless,” Millan said.

Poston says until the laws become more consistent, if you have CBD or hemp, carry documentation with you, keep prescription bottles if they came in them, and don’t share or sell the products.