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Hemp Store Opens in Tennessee's Oldest Town

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WATE) - Tennessee's oldest town now has a hemp business right downtown which opened a few days ago.

The Tennessee General Assembly developed a licensing and inspection program in 2014 for the production of industrial hemp, thanks to the 2014 federal farm bill.

It states that industrial hemp can be grown as part of a research or pilot program.

The new business owners hope their store will pave the way for others. DW Cooper is the special agent in charge of the East Tennessee Hemp Company.

"It's all about education, education, education," Cooper said to customers.

He's on a mission to teach our community about hemp.

"Hemp is the cannabis plant. It is cannabis sativa L, and what classifies that is the THC level, federally legal 0.3 and below THC. That means there is nothing psychoactive about this," Cooper said.

The hemp is sold in various forms.

"We offer a whole line of the CBD products anywhere from the tinctures, to vapes, to the raw flower," Cooper said.

While he says his products cannot produce a high, Cooper claims hemp can help people addicted to opioids.

"I have several family members that have had an opiate problem for many years. I lost my sister. She was 21 years old, so I'm very passionate about what I"m doing," Cooper said.

He also says it can treat a variety of ailments.

Jennifer Hite was shopping in the new store. She said she and her husband have seen the health benefits firsthand.

"It's helped him to sleep, stress. I do it for anxiety," Hite said.

Meanwhile, Shelyne Ponder said she doesn't know much about hemp, but she's curious about the new store and wanted to check it out.

"I feel like there's always change in Jonesborough, even though it's an old town and it will stay kind of old. I do feel like we need to be educated on what's new and what's happening," Ponder said.

It's a new business with a farm only about two miles away that's surrounded by years of history to ensure a future for hemp products in the Tri-Cities.

"I have had a lot of skeptical people come in, but when I start educating them, and I like using that the very first American flag was made out of hemp. Well as soon as I state that to people, they want to listen. They want to know they don't know the very first American flag was made out of hemp," Cooper said.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has approved over 200 applications from producers in 2018.

Applicants have to submit fees, documentation as well as sign a memorandum of understanding.

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