Advertised on the shingle hanging above the merchant’s door is a representation of the wares offered within. The butcher and the baker and the haberdasher alike all make their presences known in this way; why should anything be different for the purveyor of herbal wellness remedies? Because marijuana, that’s why!
CBD Kratom is a particularly successful chain of 27 stores in three states that sell, as the name suggests, among other things, CBD and kratom. Kratom is the plant with sedative and other psychotropic effects that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes has killed at least 44 people; it has never been banned. CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis sativa plant — the history of which is full of bans.
Added now to that history is CBD Kratom’s sign: a relatively straightforward affair, the words “CBD KRATOM” in a sort of sleek futuristic-type font, adorned with an unmistakable green leaf with seven long, spindly fan leaves. It’s a pot leaf, it’s a weed leaf, it’s a cannabis leaf. What it’s not, at least not according to the FDA, is a marijuana leaf, as long as the plant represented therein has 0.3% or less THC, the legal line dividing Farm Bill-approved hemp from Controlled Substances Act-prohibited marijuana in the United States.
None of this should matter much in 2019 and certainly not in Chicago, a city in the state of Illinois, where recreational cannabis was legalized earlier this year and where recreational marijuana shops will soon open for business. CBD Kratom isn’t that, but CBD Kratom has nonetheless been prohibited by its landlord from hanging its sign outside its new downtown Chicago Loop location, as the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported. The store has since filed suit against its landlord, alleging breach of contract.
According to the suit, filed by St. Louis-based MNG 2005, the organization’s new landlords prevented CBD Kratom from hanging its preferred sign after making “references to the signage as promoting marijuana usage.”
Separate, but related, is a move by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to ban recreational marijuana stores from popular well-trod areas in Chicago, including the downtown Loop and nearby Navy Pier, in an attempt to keep the tourist traps “family-friendly.”
As anyone who has tramped around the hucksters’ den that is a major city’s tourist destination knows, there are plenty of unscrupulous merchants with whom you would not trust your junk mail, let alone a member of your family. So while that reasoning may not make sense, what makes even less sense is agreeing to rent to a place called CBD Kratom, which has a cannabis leaf in its logo, and then telling CBD Kratom it can’t use its sign.
According to the suit, CBD Kratom was told that it could not use its sign shortly before the store opened two weeks ago — six months after the store signed its lease, and roughly around the same time Chicago was doing what almost every city does in the marijuana legalization era by figuring out ways to make retail marijuana sales slightly less legal.
The landlord also made statements to the effect that CBD Kratom was “engaged in illicit activities, specifically the promotion and sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products,” according to the suit.
While a property owner is free to make decisions with regard to whom they allow to lease their space, it seems a little hard to believe that CBD Kratom’s landlord didn’t know what CBD Kratom did and what they looked like while doing it. And so now everybody gets to look at each other in court. This is America’s perverse fascination with the cannabis leaf, a symbol with great and terrible power as well as some benefit. As to when the benefit of being able to sell the plant in peace will arrive, well, who can say?
TELL US, when you see a leaf when seven points do you identify it as hemp or cannabis?