It’s a hotly contested issue- cannabidiol (CBD) and whether it’s a controlled substance.
It’s a debate across the state. And the nation.
“This has definitely been difficult. It’s a very grey area of law. The DEA has made statements that make it a very grey area. That’s why it’s in the Ninth Circuit right now,” says Abuhamda’s defense attorney Deanna Longtin.
A grey area, because it’s been handled differently in different cities. In Bismarck, Terry’s Health Products had CBD items pulled from shelves. But the store owner was told by authorities she wouldn’t face charges.
After a raid on his store, Falesteni Abuhmada’s CBD products were confiscated. Authorities allege hashish was was also found, and as a result of that raid, he was subsequently charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors.
Abuhamda says business is down by about two thirds in the past year at his Alexander Tobacco Depot store.
“Everyone’s just on edge and worried and doesn’t really know what’s going on at all,” says Tobacco Depot sales associate, Abbey Carpenter.
Today, in court Abuhamda entered an Alford plea on four of the seven charges, meaning that he does not admit guilt, but concedes there could be enough evidence to convict him at a trial.
“We are definitely confused by the actions of the different state’s attorney’s offices and prosecutors across the state. We all have the same law,” says Longtin.
But the case, like the debate, may be far from over.
As part of Abuhamda’s plea agreement, he can move forward with an appeal to dismiss all charges.
Per the plea agreement, Abuhamda will receive 30 months of supervised probation. He entered an Alford plea for the charges of possession of a controlled substance (a Class C felony which the court reduced to a Class A misdemeanor), unlawful manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance.
The other three charges are subject to a pretrial diversion, meaning they will be dismissed if Abuhamda successfully completes certain conditions.Those charges include delivery within 1000 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school, and unlawful advertisement of drug paraphernalia.
KXNews tried several times and through different mediums to contact the McKenzie County Chief Assistant State’s Attorney, Todd Schwarz .
KXNews requested to speak with Schwarz in person but was told he was unavailable. KXNews then attempted to call Schwarz, but was told by the person who answered at the McKenzie County State’s Attorney office that e-mail was better. KXNews then e-mailed Schwarz and received no response.