ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Less than 24 hours after the town's first medical marijuana-related dispensary was shut down, the owner is defending his business, saying he wasn't doing anything wrong. He also believes his business is being unfairly targeted.
The business, on Kingsley Avenue near the Orange Park Police Department, opened just two weeks ago.
Authorities served a search warrant at the store Tuesday. They said the business had been selling cannabidiol-- a low-dose cannabis extract also called CBD -- without a license. Authorities said that during the the raid they seized all illegal properties inside. The business is owned by Harry Satur.
"They took our phones. They took our iPads. There's nothing. I tried to explain everything to them. They didn't want to hear it," said Satur.
According to Satur, the store was selling brownies, lotions and shampoos.
Orange Park Police Chief Gary Goble said law enforcement acted after receiving a tip about the products in question.
"The narcotics task force went in, bought some brownies. We tested the brownies. The results show that the brownies did contain THC, which resulted in the search warrant that was executed yesterday (Tuesday)," said Goble.
That's a statement Satur vehemently denies.
"They said that we were illegally selling marijuana, and I tried explaining to them that it is industrial hemp, which contains no THC," said Satur. "That it is a health benefit, not to get high with."
Satur told News4Jax that he approached the town of Orange Park for the purpose of obtaining a business license but was brushed off with no explanation. Satur believes his business is being unfairly targeted. He said his whole reason for opening the business was to help people with chronic medical conditions.
"I hope that they do more research and not target people that are just trying to help out the community," said Satur. "Industrial hemp is legal in all 50 states. You do not need a prescription. There's several places all over Florida where you can get the same product."
While no arrests have been made, Goble said the owners are facing charges. Goble also said this is a matter of enforcing the law, and no one is being targeted.
"It doesn't matter what the operation is. It doesn't matter what the business is. If you are selling THC-laden products over the counter, we are not going to allow that," said Goble. "It's against the law and we're going to come after you."
The 2014 law that legalized dispensing the drugs states that the patients who receive it must have visited two doctors, both of whom must concur that the patient is within one year of the end of his or her life. Both doctors must also agree that the utilization of the drug will ease the patient's suffering and pain.
The law also requires that the CBD be less than 0.08 percent THC by volume, and it can only be issued by licensed distributors.