Douglas County drug prosecutors are in court on big-time marijuana busts, dealers peddling cocaine and killer amounts of fentanyl.
Despite warnings from the Nebraska Attorney General and crackdowns in the Panhandle and Sarpy County, don’t expect the caseload in Don Kleine’s office to start including CBD.
“We have other priorities,” the veteran prosecutor said in a KETV NewsWatch 7 interview.
Kleine says yes, under Nebraska law, any substance that comes from a hemp plant is illegal.
“It’s illegal under the law in the state of Nebraska, because Nebraska’s definition of marijuana includes hemp,” he explained.
But the CBD from hemp isn’t getting anyone high like weed. There are just trace amounts — if any — of THC, the active component of marijuana that causes a high. For Douglas County’s top prosecutor, that’s a key component of taking a case to trial.
“The people who test drugs for us say it doesn’t have that impact, so I think it would be very difficult to get a conviction with that in mind,” Kleine said.
Still, other prosecutors, like Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov, are cracking down. He told a CBD store in Bellevue it has until next Friday to close up shop.
Owner Jeff Queen said he doesn’t want a fight.
“But, I’m not unwilling to stand up for myself or unwilling to stand up for all the people that come into this store who are finding relief from these products,” Queen said.
He and lawyers for CBD American Shaman have communicated with Polikov’s office.
Kleine says legislators in Lincoln need to address this issue in 2019, especially considering Congress legalized the commercialization of hemp nationwide in the 2018 Farm Bill. Clearing up the confusion will help law enforcement focus on what matters, he said.
“They need to fix this,” Kleine argued.
Queen wonders if those lawmakers won’t finish 50th in the nationwide CBD race.
“Because right now, we’re competing with two other states on who’s going to be last,” he said.