Crime

Police raid Texas stores selling CBD products and seize cash, records and CBD product

Duncanville police officers had been making undercover buys at a smoke shop located in Duncanville and one located in Lancaster for the past month.

On Friday, March 15, police raided both shops.

Officers seized what they identified as more than “30 pounds of marijuana, hundreds of pounds of CBD oil in various forms, weapons and other evidence pertinent to the case,” Duncanville police said in a statement.

Police have not made any arrests nor are any arrests pending and the investigation is ongoing, according to the statement. Evidence is being processed, the statement said.

“Our investigations revealed criminal activity occurring at GM Tobacco in Duncanville and our responsibility to protect the community is paramount to the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. Marijuana is illegal in the state of Texas,” said Mark LiVigni, Assistant Chief of Police, Duncanville Police Department.

Daniel Sullivan, the attorney representing the shop owners, Amy and Houd Wazwaz, said the raids were based on misconceptions.

“When the officers were asked why you are taking this stuff, they said because it’s marijuana,” Sullivan said Tuesday during a telephone interview. “Which is either profoundly ignorant or dishonest. If they don’t know the difference between CBD and marijuana they need to study more.”

In addition to material Duncanville officers labeled as drugs, Sullivan said that between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash was seized from cash registers and employees and all the employee cell phones were taken. A door to a back office and the door to the safe were also damaged, Sullivan said.

The video surveillance equipment from the stores also was seized, Sullivan said. He expects that everything that was taken from the store will be returned.

”These people are business owners in Duncanville and why they are being treated like drug owners I’m not sure,” Sullivan said. “At some point a political decision will call for someone to take a serious look at this and I have no doubts about what conclusion they are going to reach.”

That may not be so easy and Sullivan acknowledges this. The laws regarding CBD products from a state and from a federal standpoint are murky, Sullivan said.

“Someone will take a look at this and ask what are we doing here,” Sullivan said. “I assume they (the owners) will be able to get back to where they were before.”

The passage of the newest federal farm bill, which legalizes hemp and hemp derived products with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations of 0.3 percent or less, still leaves those products heavily regulated, according to an article from the Brookings Institution. Growing and selling hemp products is nothing like growing and selling tomato products, the Brookings Institution said.

Texas has not adopted the provisions of federal law that for all practical purposes legalize hemp and hemp products even though legislation that will do that in Texas is being considered.

Meanwhile, stores selling and people choosing to purchase CBD oils and other hemp derived products in Texas are quickly growing in number.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office has issued a statement saying that CBD products are only legal to purchase and possess for a small number of people in Texas who suffer or who have family members who suffer from certain forms of intractable epilepsy and who have followed the regulations established by the 2015 Compassionate Use Act of Texas.

David Sloane, a Fort Worth attorney and spokesman for DFW NORML, an advocacy group fighting against marijuana prohibition, advises people to stay out of the business of CBD product sales until the technology catches up with current regulations.

“When anyone comes to me asking if selling CBD is a good idea I say no,” Sloane said. “The technology is not there yet to remove all the THC. Unless they want to spend an inordinate amount of money in testing I advise them not to go that close to the plank. They are playing with fire. “

According to the search warrant affidavit obtained by the Duncanville investigator working this case, he believed he had something more than illegal CBD product sales.

At least three times in February undercover officers purchased products labeled CBD and noted products described as “apparent marijuana” in GM Tobacco’s Duncanville store, the search warrant affidavit stated. Products labeled CBD and described as apparent marijuana were purchased from the Lancaster and Duncaville stores in March, the search warrant affidavit stated.

Some of the material from the purchased items were submitted to the Armstrong Forensic Laboratory in March and the test results indicated cannabidiol and THC were present.

“The report notes that Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid associated with cannabis and the apparent marijuana meets the definition of marijuana per the Texas Controlled Substance Act,” the affidavit stated.

According to the affidavit, the employees and owners of the stores were breaking state law.

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