CHICAGO — Signage on a store can get tricky if there’s a hemp leaf on the logo, as a St. Louis retailer is learning.
The owner of CBD Kratom, a store selling CBD products, is suing its landlord for breach of contract, alleging it was prohibited from using its logo — a hemp leaf with the store name under it — on a sign above its new downtown Chicago store.
The suit by St. Louis-based MNG 2005, filed this week in federal court in Chicago, alleges the owners and operators of the building at 28 East Randolph Street, in the city’s popular Loop business district downtown, refused to approve the sign “and specifically made references to the signage as promoting marijuana usage.”
CBD Kratom is one of the St. Louis area’s largest chains that sell the cannabis compound CBD. Since 2017, the business has opened 12 stores in the area. It also has locations in Dallas and Los Angeles.
Named as defendants are Wabash Randolph Garage, 4 Garages and General Parking Corp. — the entities that own and operate the Randolph Street building.
The lawsuit comes just days after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced her proposed zones for marijuana retail stores when the drug becomes legal for recreational use Jan. 1. Lightfoot said much of downtown would be off-limits to stores, citing a need to provide more opportunity for Chicago neighborhoods and keep the downtown area “family-friendly.”
CBD, a cannabis compound that does not get users high but is often touted for its relaxation benefits, is already legal for sale nationwide when it is derived from hemp, and is used in everything from teas and dog treats to bath bombs. The sale of hemp is also legal.
CBD Kratom’s owners allege it wasn’t until after they signed the lease for the space in March — and shortly before the site opened last week — that they were told the sign wouldn’t be allowed.
The owners and the garage operator made statements suggesting that CBD Kratom “was engaged in illicit activities, specifically the promotion and sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products,” the suit alleges.
The landlord disapproves of the signage because of its “mistaken perception” of what the sign depicts, the complaint alleges.
“Without the use of the sign, which is the trademark of the plaintiff’s brand, plaintiff will suffer economic harm in the form of lost revenue as a result of not being able to use its brand,” MNG 2005 alleges in the suit.
“The lawsuit is baseless and we will be defending it in court,” said Barry Mortge, an attorney for 4 Garages.
The store’s logo is on the shop’s glass door, but there is currently no signage above the store, as the building’s other retailers have. CBD Kratom has applied to the city for a sign permit.
MNG 2005 is seeking $250,000 in damages. “We hope to come to resolution with the landlord quickly,” CBD Kratom co-owner Dafna Revah said.
Representatives for Wabash Randolph Garage and General Parking Corp. did not respond to requests for comment.
CBD Kratom operates 27 stores, including locations in several Chicago-area suburbs, in Chicago’s Andersonville and Bucktown neighborhoods. Its other Chicago-area stores have signs using the logo.