Nebraska enacted its new hemp laws in May of 2019. The Hemp Farming Act, LB 657, promotes the “cultivation and processing of hemp” for commercial sale while also complying with federal laws regulation of controlled substances.
The law raises a new question for the hemp industry: Is hemp oil legal in Nebraska?
The new Nebraska hemp laws do not appear to prohibit hemp oil or other hemp products with a THC content of 0.3% or less. However, this interpretation requires some further clarification from the Nebraska authorities.
Overview of Nebraska’s Hemp Farming Act
LB 657’s stated purpose is to “[a]lign state law with federal law regarding the cultivation, handling, marketing, and processing of hemp and hemp products.”
The Nebraska legislature issued a committee statement explaining that LB 657:
- Defines hemp as any part of a cannabis plant with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of 0.3% or less;
- Distinguishes hemp from marijuana; and
- Excludes hemp from the definition of marijuana for purposes of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
The Act states that the State’s hemp activities must comply with federal laws. LB 657 specifies that hemp and hemp products with a THC concentration at or below 0.3% are not considered marijuana and are not controlled substances under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act.
Hemp crops and products are subject to state testing to ensure compliance with the 0.3% THC limit. The Act allows the destruction of crops exceeding this limit. The statute imposes civil and criminal penalties for violations, whether intentional or not.
Is Hemp Oil Legal Under the Nebraska Hemp Laws?
The Hemp Farming Act provides that its purpose is to:
“Promote the expansion of Nebraska’s hemp industry to the maximum extent permitted by law and allow farmers and businesses to cultivate, handle, and process hemp and sell hemp products for commercial purposes[.]” In other words, Nebraska hemp laws encourage making and selling hemp products as long as the law is not broken.
The Act does not define “hemp products.” However, the law does define hemp to include all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not,” with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less. Without further guidance, the hemp oil would fall under a “cannabidiol.”
So, is hemp oil legal in Nebraska under the Hemp Farming Act?
Under one interpretation, hemp oils would be legal under the new Nebraska hemp laws, at least hemp oils with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%.
The Attorney General’s Office did not share this interpretation in a 2018 memorandum. The memorandum warned that:
“cannabidiol or any product containing cannabidiol… remains illegal to possess, manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense. Such conduct is subject to prosecution for illegally possessing or trafficking a Schedule I controlled substance.” This means that the Attorney General took the position that hemp oil remained illegal under federal law.
Conclusion: Is Hemp Oil Legal in Nebraska?
These conflicting interpretations make it unclear whether hemp oil is legal in Nebraska under the Hemp Farming Act. A definite answer requires some clarification by the state legislature or the Attorney General.
If you would like to learn more about hemp laws in Nebraska, contact a criminal defense attorney at the Petersen Law Office. We are happy to discuss this with you during a free consultation.
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