Tennessee companies allege police unlawfully seized $1 million in hemp

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

A chain of smoke shops and a cannabinoid wholesale company in Tennessee allege in a civil rights lawsuit that the Spring Hill Police Department seized $1.35 million in hemp products without a proper warrant.

The Litson law firm filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on May 20 alleging that officers executed search warrants unrelated to hemp at four Old School Vapor locations and a Sak Wholesale warehouse, according to a news release.

“The warrants did not allow for the seizure of hemp products, yet law enforcement seized over $1 million of hemp anyway after being directed by the District Attorney’s Office that it was the ‘same damn thing’ as marijuana,” according to a news release issued by Litson.

“It is not. And the seizure of these legal products plainly violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

Hemp, which is defined as having no more than 0.3% THC, is federally legal and regulated in Tennessee, but neither medical nor adult-use marijuana is legal in the state.

The hemp industry is keeping a close eye on discussions about a new Farm Bill, including an amendment filed Wednesday to ban ingestible hemp products containing any amount of THC.

The lawsuit seeks damages of $1,350,607, plus attorney fees.

In addition, a motion for a preliminary injunction was filed May 22 asking for the Spring Hill Police Department to return the hemp it took.

“The illegally seized hemp was fully compliant with federal and Tennessee law, and our clients presented third-party laboratory test results to law enforcement indicating that the products were within legal limits,” according to the release.

“Officers did not care and, when they did their own testing a few days later, ignored results indicating that the product was legal.”