Original art by Lizzy Oakley Photography

The “War on Drugs” Looms Large in the South

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — One of the odd things about America’s always-evolving, yet seemingly always in-between phase on cannabis is the stuff is ubiquitous, even in states where recreational and medicinal marijuana remain illegal: The South.

Down here, people get their cannabis at CBD shops. Thanks to the legalization of most forms of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, their shelves are stocked with everything from cannabidiol flower (like marijuana, just with less of the “high”) to edibles and vape cartridges infused with delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (a cousin component of the THC infused in what we refer to as marijuana).

Four years ago, these things were federally illegal. As recently as the 1980s, they were considered one of the key enemies in the nation’s “war on drugs.” Now, they’re as easy to access as a cup of coffee — even here in the South. So we went to CBD shops in Tennessee to ask people about the “war on drugs.” It turns out, it still looms large.

This piece is published in collaboration with Scuffed News — a non-partisan videocast run by veteran newspaper man Adam Belz.

Adam Belz is a reporter based in north Georgia. He reported for daily newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Des Moines Register, for 14 years before moving south in 2020 and launching an interview show on YouTube called Scuffed News. He also produces a daily newsletter, Morning Belz.

Adam Belz is a reporter based in north Georgia. He reported for daily newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Des Moines Register, for 14 years before moving south in 2020 and launching an interview show on YouTube called Scuffed News. He also produces a daily newsletter, Morning Belz.

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