Douglas County attorney says he won’t crack down on sellers of CBD products

Douglas County attorney says he won’t crack down on sellers of CBD products
Don Kleine BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

CBD oil remains illegal, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Friday, but the county’s law enforcement officers have higher priorities than cracking down on people who sell the substance.

Stores in Omaha and Lincoln that sell products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, have been operating for more than a year without problems. The products are promoted as health and wellness aids, similar to herbal supplements.

Last week, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov served a cease-and-desist letter to the CBD American Shaman shop in Bellevue, warning American Shaman and its owner, Jeff Queen, to pull all CBD products from its shelves or risk legal action. The letter gave Queen two weeks to comply.

Polikov said the products being sold at the Galvin Road shop are illegal under Nebraska law, which prohibits “all parts” of the cannabis plant.

American Shaman also has stores in Omaha.

CBD is found in hemp, a version of the marijuana plant that is low in THC, the chemical in cannabis that gives users a high. State and federal law define hemp as being less than 0.3 percent THC.

Attorney General Doug Peterson, who sent memos to law enforcement and prosecutors in 2017 and again in September, says state law prohibits the use of any form of marijuana, including CBD.

Kleine said narcotics officers and lab workers have told him that CBD oil “has maybe just trace elements of THC at the most. It doesn’t get people high; it’s not a hallucinogenic.”

Prosecutors pursuing CBD sellers would have to seek a conviction on a charge of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, a felony, Kleine said. “It’s difficult for us to see where we could convict anybody, under the circumstances,” he said.

Both Kleine and Polikov said state legislators can address the legalization of CBD products. Two state senators have said they plan to introduce legislation in the upcoming session that would legalize CBD products.

For now, Kleine said, pursuing sellers of such products isn’t a focus of local narcotics officers.

“We have other things to work on,” he said, noting the illegal sale and use of opioids and prescription drugs.

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