The Scottsbluff mother and son who were arrested a day after their CBD store opened no longer face criminal charges.
Heather Kaufman Beguin, who turns 46 Tuesday, and Dreyson Beguin, 23, each was charged in mid-December with one count of possession of a controlled substance.
Scotts Bluff County Attorney David Eubanks said he filed paperwork Monday to dismiss the charges, citing various reasons.
The Nebraska Legislature, he said, needs to clarify the law. He agrees with other county attorneys in the state that other crimes are a higher priority than this one. And he said it would be hard to get a guilty verdict from a jury because an increasing number of people support medical marijuana.
“The statute is poorly worded, it’s out of date and the Legislature needs to change it,” Eubanks said.
CBD oil, or cannabidiol oil, 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.
Nebraska law prohibits “all parts” of the cannabis plant, which includes CBD oil. In 2017 and again in November, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson sent memos to law enforcement officials explaining that selling, possessing or distributing CBD oil or other forms of marijuana is illegal. The only exceptions are a four-year study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a prescription CBD oil product.
Stores in Omaha and Lincoln selling CBD oil and other herbal supplements such as pills, gummies and lotions have conducted business without issue.
Kaufman Beguin and Beguin were arrested Dec. 14, a day after the opening of their Scottsbluff business, KB Natural Alternatives.
A Scottsbluff Police Department investigator purchased a CBD oil product at the store for $35, according to a court affidavit. Beguin rang up the investigator’s purchase and Kaufman Beguin bagged the product, the affidavit says. The two were promptly arrested.
The store closed after the arrests, according to its Facebook page, but the mother and son seemed eager to reopen. Messages left Monday for Kaufman Beguin and Beguin and their attorney were not immediately returned.
“We’re ecstatic to be serving our community soon!” they wrote on Jan. 2.
Eubanks said he doesn’t plan on prosecuting the business owners again.
“We’re not going to enforce it. It’s technically illegal, but like I said, it’s a situation that needs to be fixed by the Legislature, and I hope they’ll do that,” Eubanks said.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has 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.”
Kleine said the county’s law enforcement officers have higher priorities than cracking down on people who sell the substance.
“Same thing here,” Eubanks said Monday. “I just had an armed robbery, an attempted murder and meth cases — guys getting caught with more than a pound of meth. In the big scheme of things, those are the things we should be focusing on.”
Not all attorneys are of the same mindset. In December, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov served a cease and desist letter on a Bellevue shop that sells CBD oil.
Eubanks said when selecting juries for other marijuana or drug cases, he estimates that about 60 to 70 percent of potential jurors are in favor of medical marijuana. Knowing that, he said, prosecuting business owners for selling CBD oil would be difficult to win.
State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln introduced a bill last week that would legalize medical marijuana.