Nebraska Bill Aims To Increase Taxes on CBD, Hemp Products by 100%


A recent property tax relief bill in Nebraska is seeking to create new income opportunities for the state, including a variety of sales tax exemptions. This includes adding sales taxes for products like candy and soda, as well as services such as pet care and grooming, but most importantly, adding a 100% tax to CBD and hemp products.

Legislative Bill 388 was recently passed by the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee on March 21 in a seven to 10 vote. The bill was initially introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan in January, who is also the chair of the Revenue Committee. “Sales tax exemptions will be removed on pop and candy, on pet services, on advertising revenue over $1 billion dollars, increased taxes on games of skill to 20%, and lottery tickets,” Linehan wrote in an outline. “Taxes on cigarettes will increase from 63 cents to one dollar and on vaping by 20%. We are going to tax hemp and CBD at 100%. This will result in new revenue of $182 million dollars.”

Overall, Linehan estimated that this would allow approximately $560 million in property tax credit funds that would be granted to schools, providing $3,000 per student in foundational aid. It would also create $650 million in property tax relief. The outline also describes “essentials” such as electricity, natural gas, or propane, as things that should not be taxed. “We are in a time of great revenue growth,” the outline concluded. “We have the revenues to pay for this now and for the foreseeable future.”

These proposals have created a rift among Nebraskan legislators. Gov. Jim Pillen approved the committee’s work on approving the bill so it can proceed to the floor for debate. “I want to congratulate the members of the Revenue Committee on advancing historic and transformational property tax relief and reform out of committee on a 7-0 vote,” Pillen said in a statement. “Thank you for delivering once in a lifetime transformational property tax relief plan to all Nebraskans.”

Many others, such as Sen. Julie Slama, expressed shock regarding the CBD and hemp tax increase. “I’m 100% opposed to LB-388, which is the largest tax increase in Nebraska history,” Slama said.

John Gage, state director of Americans for Prosperity, criticized the bill. “There’s nothing innovative about raising taxes on Nebraskans. This bill does not solve our property tax problem and will result in a higher tax bill for hardworking families,” Gage said, according to KETV. “This is the kind of big government nonsense you expect in California, not Nebraska. Legislators will be held accountable if they choose to vote for the largest tax increase in state history.”

Platte Institute CEO Jim Vokal called LB-388 a bad tax policy. “In recent years, the legislature has repeatedly succeeded and shown the best path to lowering taxes is to constrain all sources of revenue and spending growth,” said Vokal. “Such constraints need to be imposed upon local governments. We believe that constraining state and local revenue and spending growth is the best path forward rather than raising new sales tax revenues to lower property tax revenues.”

Cannabis is illegal in Nebraska, although sales of hemp-derived cannabinoid products continue to thrive. In January, Legislature Bill 199 was introduced by Sen. Teresa Ibach which, if passed, would ban the sale, possession, and consumption of such products. “While a product could be advertised as delta-8 or delta-10, these products could—and most likely do—contain chemicals, compounds and other impurities that are not listed on the label,” Ibach explained.

Meanwhile, advocates with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) are hard at work collecting signatures to qualify their medical cannabis initiative for the 2024 ballot later this year. The group needs to collect signatures from 7% of voters in the state and 5% of voters in 38 of the state’s 98 counties (with approximately 125,000 raw signatures in total) by July 3.

As of March 15, NMM said on social media that it has collected more than 72,000 signatures from voters in nearly all Nebraska counties (with the exception of Grant, Keya Paha, McPherson, Sheridan, and Wheeler). NMM has attempted to get medical cannabis legalized since 2020. Back then, they only collected 14,212 signatures in three qualified counties, followed by 16,328 signatures in four counties in 2022. 

Recent polling conducted by the Neilan Strategy Group in February revealed that 70% of participants want to see medical cannabis legalization. “Nebraskans are clearly ready to legalize medical marijuana,” the Neilan Strategy Group stated.

NMM held its own poll in 2022 and found that 80% of participants said they approved of medical cannabis legalization. “Nebraskans are obviously ready to legalize medicinal cannabis,” said NMM campaign manager Crista Eggers, who explained how excited advocates are to be making so much progress this year. “We’re very excited about where we’re at. This time, we’re going to get it done or it is not going to happen,” Eggers said.





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