A Nebraska assistant attorney general said he was wrong.
And he sent a mea culpa letter to Sen. Laura Ebke, chairwoman of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, acknowledging the mistake. She read it into the record Thursday during a meeting of the committee.
Testimony that Assistant Attorney General Corey O'Brien had offered at a hearing last week on a bill (LB832) incorrectly indicated that a law passed last session made cannabidiol illegal unless contained in a drug product approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally-occurring constituent of industrial hemp or cannabis, and some people who live where it is sold legally use it for certain medical conditions.
The opposite of O'Brien's testimony was true. CBD products were already illegal in Nebraska, with one research exception, and the bill he referred to carved out one additional exception for a drug going through the FDA approval process.
O'Brien said that, unfortunately, during preparation for his testimony, he misread the changes made to the law and confused himself into thinking that CBD was made legal in all forms by Sen. Sue Crawford's 2015 bill that allowed CBD to be used in a limited epileptic seizure study by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In fact, that bill did not alter the existing illegal status of cannabidiol for any other use.
"It was incorrect for me to indicate that LB487 made cannabidiol sold in non-FDA approved products illegal, when in actuality none of those products were ever legal under Nebraska statutes," O'Brien said.
Ebke said she had been getting negative Facebook messages and emails since LB487 went into effect last year and local law enforcement starting clamping down on enforcement of cannabidiol supplements in Nebraska health food stores and other shops.
People were blaming Ebke, and her bill (LB167), which was amended into LB487, for making it illegal. But her bill only created that narrow exception to the current ban in Nebraska on medical cannabis, for an orphan drug, a CBD derivative, that is going through the FDA approval process to treat Dravet syndrome.
When the attorney general's office testified incorrectly at the Friday hearing, it supported the view of the pro-legalization folks, who thought the bill did something it didn't, she said.