Georgia Cops Crack Down on Vape Shops for Selling Legal Products

From January to date, law enforcement has sent threatening letters to vape shops across Northwest Georgia. Sheriff Gary Sisk wrote the Catoosa County letter, and stores in three other counties around Catoosa were also threatened. lettersFrom the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, which is responsible for all four counties. The letters from the task force were addressed to “all individuals, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers,” who were advised that anyone caught “in possession and/or selling/distributing” any products containing “any form of THC that is over 0.3%…will be subject to arrest, prosecution and possible asset seizure.”

Sisk’s letter was more direct: The Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office representative contacted shops to inform them that he had purchased items at your shop and had them tested. Items were discovered to have a significate. [sic]Delta 9″ Sisk stated that the sheriff’s department would pursue prosecutions and seize illegal goods if they aren’t removed from Georgia by April 30.

The shop owners claim that the products they sell are legal and have all the necessary documentation.

Delta-9THC (the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis) is responsible for the “high” that marijuana users get from using it. The federal law limits the level of delta-9-THC in any substance to 0.3 percent. However, loopholes in federal law allowed for an explosion in investment in delta-8THC. This is a hemp-derived cannabis product that produces a similar reaction to delta-9, but it’s less potent. Hemp derivatives were legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, while a Georgia law that was passed next year explicitly mentioned this. [hemp]”Derivatives, extracts and cannabinoids. Also, acid salts, salts, salts and salts. Even though no mention is made of delta-8 in either case, it is included implicitly.

Joe King, and Leigh Ann Laduke (owners of The Shoppe Catoosa’s Fort Oglethorpe), were stunned by the unexpected letter. King claims that they possess all certificates of analysis showing their products have delta-8 and not delta-9. However, when the King family sought clarification from the sheriff about which items they were in violation of the law the office wouldn’t provide it. Responding to There are reasonsChief Deputy Kelly Holcomb also replied to a request by king and laduke for additional information on Georgia’s open record law. He cited the exception in the law regarding any pending investigation, prosecution or criminal case. King and Laduke felt that they could not avoid removing all CBD products from the shelves despite threats of arrest and no explanation.

Recent months have seen confusion over CBD and THC’s legal status. Patsy AustinGatson was the Gwinnett County district attorney. She announced in January that she will be prosecuting store and owner of delta-8 products. The products are “not legal” according to Austin-Gatson. Violators will be subject to “felony punishment” as well as “at risk of their assets being seized and forfeited by the state.” Attorneys from Pate, Johnson and Church sued the state of Georgia and Austin-Gatson for two vape shops. They sought to declare that the delta-8 products were not illegal under any state or federal law. Austin-Gatson was recently indicted by a judge on the ground that “there is a substantial probability that the Plaintiffs will prevail in their case at trial.” In recent weeks, the officers from Madison and Gwinnett had to return the delta-8 products taken from the stores.

Tom Church, who was not associated with Austin-Gatson but is an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the AustinGatson lawsuit, told There are reasons King and Laduke shop owners face a difficult battle but the law is their side. Even though the Gwinnett case has a favorable outcome, successful prosecutions would still require that the defendant demonstrate “criminal knowledge”. ConsciouslyBuying or selling illicit substances

It lettersThe drug task force cautioned that “Please don’t rely upon the statements of individuals or retailers to determine the legality and safety of any product.” The Sisk letter similarly cautioned, “These products are being misrepresented by the manufacturers and contain more than what is on the label… It is your responsibility to know what you are selling and what it contains especially when I am telling you it is a violation of Georgia Law.”

Church claims that shop owners should have documentation to prove they purchased legal goods. Church also stated that while most drug tests available to local authorities can detect THC but are not able to distinguish delta-8 and delta-9, they may still be useful in identifying the source of THC.

Shop owners are forced to obey the law for the moment. The Shoppe, facing the possibility of being prosecuted and possibly losing their whole livelihoods, is choosing to be cautious. Laduke says There are reasons She refers to regular customers of the shop as “patients”, people who use their products to manage pain, anxiety, and PTSD. This includes opioid addicts, as well as alcoholics, who take delta-8-infused CBD to reduce withdrawal symptoms. While the CBD store may be losing money, customers will lose access to CBD products that have provided relief.