Authorities raid CBD stores in Hancock County, charge business owner with selling controlled substances
Several locations of a CBD store chain, including one in Bay St. Louis and another in Waveland, were raided on Wednesday afternoon after authorities say its products did not meet legal THC standards for marijuana.
Casey Favre, director of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Narcotic Task Force, confirmed that the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Bay St. Louis Police Department, the Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, executed search warrants on LA Harvest locations in Mississippi and Louisiana.
The LA Harvest stores sell a variety of CBD and cannabis based products, including carts, edibles, oils, Delta 9 THC gummies and more, but are not dispensaries for Mississippi’s medical marijuana program. The company’s website says it has locations in Bay St. Louis, Slidell and New Orleans, and were about to open a location in Waveland.
During the raid, authorities arrested owner Karen McClain, 54, of Slidell, La., and store employee, Darren Perksins, 39, of Slidell, La., and charged them with sale and distribution of a controlled substance. McClain also was charged with trafficking of controlled substances. The Hancock County Sheriff’s office said more charges are pending against additional store employees for related sales.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s office says it received complaints about the items LA Harvest was selling and after an investigation, determined employees at the LA Harvest stores were selling marijuana and other products with THC concentrations above the legal threshold.
“LA Harvest has not qualified to be a dispensary of medical marijuana in the state, and the company has conducted their illicit business long before the medical marijuana law went into effect,” said Sheriff Ricky Adam in a press release. “They have held no regard for the state’s medical marijuana law, often flaunting the fact that they did not require medical cards. Essentially, they are no different than street level dope dealers, other than they have a fancy store front.”
During the raid, authorities seized over 75 pounds of marijuana flower and 26 packages of THC infused edibles.
The sheriff’s department also claims the business was creating their own marijuana infused products with a “lab like” set up, as well as altering the packaging of THC products commercially available in states where marijuana is legal to appear to have lower concentrations of THC to meet Mississippi laws.
Cannabis products with lower concentrations like Delta 8 and 9 products as well as hemp and CBD products are legal in Mississippi, but marijuana with higher THC concentrations is only legally available through Mississippi’s controlled medical marijuana program.
Sheriff Adam warned that customers who made purchases from LA Harvest may have accidentally purchased products that are not legal under Mississippi’s current law and that possession of these products is still illegal.
The LA Harvest location in Waveland was scheduled to have its ribbon cutting on Friday.