The Hottest New Cannabis Market: Tennessee?
It's not hard to find cannabis products in Tennessee. Just about every store window is promoting their CBD products.
"The response has actually been beautiful, people are very open-minded in Tennessee,” Kat Merryfield said.
Merryfield is the founder of Kat’s Organics, based near Chattanooga. She sells CBD oil, made from local Tennessee sourced hemp.
"People are ready. They’re ready for a change. They’re tired of being sick. They’re tired of the opioids," Merryfield said.
There has been some confusion over the legality of CBD in Tennessee. Earlier this year, Rutherford County authorities shut down more than 20 businesses for selling CBD products. Days later, those businesses were allowed to reopen as authorities determined the product was not illegal marijuana.
"It is legal, it is actually helpful, it’s not something that needs to be hidden away in dark corners with people getting arrested," said Dustin Fait, a former narcotics officer at an unnamed agency in Middle Tennessee.
Fait now works for Kat’s Organics. Since leaving law enforcement, he’s been on a mission to inform the public on what he says is misinformation about hemp and CBD.
“Once I explain it to them, once they actually see how well it works and what a difference it’s making in people’s lives, they totally understand it," Fait said.
Farmers are also finding it profitable. Some are switching from traditional crops to growing hemp, such as Bill Corbin, who farms 23 acres of active hemp crop in Springfield, TN. Bill got in the hemp game four years ago when the Tennessee Department of Agriculture first launched the Industrial Hemp Program.
"I’m a firm believer in the benefits of medical, and I believe in the near future that will be licensed," said Corbin, who admits he’s seeing great results, especially with the rise of the "legal" hemp byproduct, CBD oil.
However, Corbin said he’s disappointed with how the product has been tied to marijuana.
"It’s disturbing how politically motivated decisions that affect so many people [can] sway opinion so immediately," Corbin said.