Andalusia council postpones decision on revoking Mellow Haze business license; attorney says products meet state’s THC standards

Published 2:45 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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The Andalusia City Council has postponed a decision on whether to terminate the business license of a local business that is currently closed after a search warrant was executed there in October.

Mellow Haze, located 1102 MLK Jr. Expressway in Andalusia, was the topic of a public hearing set prior to the council deciding whether to permanently terminate its business license. The business has been closed since the search warrant was executed on Oct. 12. The search warrant was obtained after authorities received reports of illegal activity. Mellow Haze is licensed to sell tobacco products by the State of Alabama and obtained a retail sales license by the city.

During the search, multiple items were seized and some substances were sent to the Alabama Department of Forensics Sciences for testing. According to law enforcement, 28 items were sent to the lab with eight of those being categorized as “marijuana-illegal substance.” Test results are pending on other items sent to the lab.

Representing the business owners at the public hearing was attorney John Peek, who stated the items being sold at Mellow Haze are all legal under Alabama law, meeting the state’s acceptable THC levels. He added that documentation — currently in the possession of police — would support that.

“There is an amount of TCH that is acceptable and legal. Every time they had a delivery it comes with lab results. Those lab reports taken from Mellow Haze should show that those products are below the legal amount (THC level) based on the Farm Bill and Alabama statute. Every single document that represents a test result that (Mellow Haze) gets delivered with every shipment is in the custody of the police department,” Peek said.

He added that if the substances being sold at the store are illegal, the investigation could be expanded to include those who sold them to Mellow Haze, including a supplier operating in Cullman County, Alabama. “If this is true, we want to address that as a company,” Patterson said.

Andalusia Police Department Investigator Tyler Patterson said a retired police officer was sent into Mellow Haze to purchase items that were displayed in glass cookie jars, leading up to the October search warrant.

“The purchased product was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science for testing. The results came back as being marijuana, which is illegal in the State of Alabama. At that point we obtained and executed the search warrant. Twenty-eight items (seized in the search) were sent to the lab with eight of those coming back as marijuana. One of the scientists at the lab told me, if it was CBD it would read on the results ‘CBD,’ being presented differently from marijuana.”

When asked, Patterson said there are no designated legal amounts of THC allowed in substances that test positive as marijuana.

Based on the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which removed hemp from the list of controlled substances in the U.S., and later affirmed in Alabama with the signing of SB225, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil containing less than .3 percent THC is legal to sell in Alabama with proper licensing. Hemp is considered any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than .3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive substance found in marijuana. CBD is not psychoactive and can be derived from hemp as well as other plants.

Recreational use and sell of marijuana remains illegal in Alabama. With the signing of SB 46 in 2021, medical marijuana was legalized only for registered patients.

After the comments provided at the hearing, Mayor Earl Johnson said he would like additional clarification before permanently revoking the business license for Mellow Haze.

“What we have before us tonight are reports stating this is marijuana, an illegal substance. There are certain products that can be sold in Alabama that are legal, providing its under certain levels of THC, that’s my understanding. The issue here is that we don’t know what this is; the level of THC is not in the report and that bothers me. Our police work hard to keep our streets clean and we want to continue that. But, at the same time, we have to follow the law. In my opinion, we should tap the brakes and find out what we have. We need to make sure we are operating according to the law,” Johnson said.

The council did not vote on revoking the business license, but it will return as a topic at its next meeting.

Mellow Haze remains closed and the business license is currently suspended. At this time, no one has been charged with a crime.