For Mayor Tony Kennon it’s all about the City of Orange Beach’s brand, one he and other officials have been cultivating for years.
“First off, we worked very hard to create our brand and we’ve worked very hard to prevent any business or any activity from diminishing that brand of family values, zero drug tolerance and traditional values,” Kennon said. “CBD oil, cannabis, hemp, whatever, has its origins and genesis, in my opinion, the first thing that comes to mind is headshops and paraphernalia.”
On July 16, Orange Beach’s city council voted unanimously to place a 90-day moratorium on business licenses for stores looking to sell oil derived from industrial hemp or CBD. The council also voted to postpone a hearing on two licenses until a city ordinance can be crafted to address CBD stores.
Chase Smith and Chad Kirkland were applying to open Lotus Orange Beach to sell a variety of CBD products at a store at the west end of Beach Road. Lotus Foley is already operating there.
Christian Butts owns Seedless Green in Elberta and operates a retail store but also manufactures and wholesales his products to other CBD outlets. There is one store dedicated to CBD products already operating in Orange Beach, Your CBD Store, in the same shopping center as Big Fish Bar and Restaurant. Several other stores are selling the products over the counter. Those outlets can continue to sell the products but must adhere to the ordinance once it is in place.
Kennon said there are four issues he and the council want addressed with an ordinance before issuing any more licenses. Protecting the city’s family-friendly image, how it’s handled by the police department if they find CBD oil on a traffic stop, how THC in the oil will affect drug tests and stringent testing of the products to make sure they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
“We’re not looking for a reason to say no,” Kennon said. “We’re looking for a reason to say yes. I think we have a very legitimate reason and concern and need to have a moratorium to evaluate these four points and create an ordinance that addresses those four points. It’s just how do we regulate it and create an ordinance that everybody in town wins.”
Hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis plant family and look identical. In marijuana, the level of THC, the active ingredient, is about 20 to 30 percent compared to the low amounts in CBD. But a roadside test by police can’t gauge the percentage of the THC, only whether or not it is present.
“What do you do?” Kennon asked. “It’s either positive or it’s negative. That creates a dilemma for our police department.”
Councilman Jeff Silvers was out of town for a July 9 council discussion on the CBD issue but believes the council is making the right move halting licenses to study it further.
“I’ve done a lot of research on it and I understand there are still a lot of questions amongst our staff, police and when they pull people over and how to test,” Silvers said. “I don’t want to hurt any businesses but for the record, I want to move forward with the moratorium.”
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