The owner of Lafayette’s newest CBD shop, Cajun Cannabis, was arrested just days after the shop’s opening day last week, prompting skepticism from citizens regarding whether the shop’s owner was targeted by police and confusion about Louisiana’s CBD laws.
Travis DeYoung, 31, faces 17 drug and firearm-related charges after police searched his vehicle last Wednesday night, seizing a handgun and various CBD products.
Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber said the search and arrest came as a result of multiple citizen complaints the department received, alleging that the Cajun Cannabis storefront was riddled with illegal activity.
“We’re not targeting (DeYoung) as a person," Garber told the Daily Advertiser. "We’re not targeting his business. We’re simply responding to complaints."
Garber said police discovered DeYoung was distributing narcotics to undercover operators outside of the storefront. Police also executed a search warrant on Cajun Cannabis, seizing a handgun, CBD oil, CBD-infused bath products, gummies and other edibles. Multiple products from the store tested positive for THC, but Garber did not disclose the level of THC in the products.
CBD, an acronym for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive, naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. It is typically extracted from hemp, a strain of cannabis that is different from marijuana because it has an extremely low amount of THC, the chemical that produces marijuana’s various psychoactive effects.
DeYoung was charged with multiple felonies, including two counts of possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a juvenile. In addition, DeYoung was charged with seven counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
According to the Advocate, Cajun Cannabis' products are complicit with federal regulations that distinguish between marijuana and hemp. However, Louisiana regulatory authorities still maintain the sale of CBD products is illegal. Even products containing zero percent THC are illegal, according to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
"There’s no percentage that I’m aware of that’s a threshold or cutoff for state law," Garber told the Advocate. ”Right now we’re 100 percent confident what we seized were, in fact, illegal products. These were Schedule 1 narcotics, and they are not legal to sell in Louisiana. Just because something is being offered in a retail establishment does not necessarily mean that it is legal to sell."
Garber’s comments have not eased the wave of anxiety throughout the state from CBD business owners regarding legality. In addition, there is community outcry and skepticism surrounding DeYoung’s sudden search and arrest. Detractors worry that DeYoung was targeted and profiled because of the type of business he opened just days ago, and that there was no probable cause for DeYoung’s vehicle to be stopped and searched.
A GoFundMe account was set up to address his legal expenses, including a $322,000 bond set by Judge Thomas Frederick. The gofundme has already raised over $3000 toward a $20,000 goal. The comments section for the account is filled with support for DeYoung.
“This is an embarrassment on our state,” commenter Stephanie Stephenson said. “Be sure to vote in the upcoming elections.”
“There’s way more serious issues in Lafayette than this,” said commenter Alyssa Romero. “Profiling at its best.”
Garber said any skeptical community reaction is “absurd,” adding that his department is targeting crime, not Garber himself or just CBD businesses.
"This is not something where we’re going to check every store that sells a CBD product or we’re going searching through inventories at Sam’s Club and Costco and things like that," Garber told the Advocate. "This was in response to multiple, specific complaints asking us to look into something … We target crime.”
Local student reaction to the arrest is varied. One student, music business major Romelo Williams, expressed disappointment with how the arrest may affect efforts to fully legalize CBD in Louisiana.
“There is still such a fight to legalize the stuff here,” Williams said. “I don’t know any other Cannabis stores around this area. For this to happen, it really hurt the cause.”
Like others, Williams is skeptical of the arrest, but contends that it appears DeYoung was engaging in some form of illegal activity, despite questionable reasoning for the search.
“It sounds like he was doing something illegal, but bottom line is no other stores were searched,” Williams said. “They said they searched Cajun Cannabis because they received ‘specific complaints’ about the store. Sounds like BS to me. Even if he was doing some illegal activity, they kinda had no right to search him.”
Stay with The Vermilion as this story continues to develop.