NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - A North Platte business owner shared his feelings Thursday after his court case for selling a product with THC was dismissed last week.
Elite Lifestyles storefront in North Platte. (SOURCE: KNOP-TV: Jace Barraclough)
Jacob Johanson owns Elite Lifestyles, a nutrition and training shop on Dewey Street.
Earlier this year, he was charged with Distribution of THC. Last Thursday, The County Attorney's Office decided to dismiss the case without prejudice. Now, Johanson says he is breathing a sigh of relief.
"Honestly I just felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my chest," said Johanson, "I honestly just feel physically lighter knowing this is not hanging over by head, that's the biggest thing and also just the excitement of being able to look towards the future again and the excitement about being able to help out the community and not have to worry about paying court fees and other things of that nature where now I can take that money and give it back to the community."
Russ Jones, Johanson's attorney, said the law changed during their court case. "We don’t think he violated the law even pre-July 1. Prior to July 1, the hemp exception did not exist, now the hemp exception does exist with a percentage that then triggers a requirement of a prosecutor to test to determine what THC level there is," said Jones, "Before if it was THC, it was THC, now, if it’s less than 3% THC, it’s hemp so you've got to be able to quantify in order to prosecute it is my position."
The legislation that was passed in July, Johanson said will be good for the state. "I think we are taking a great step in the right direction, I think that this industry is going to be fantastic for Nebraska," said Johanson, "I think it's a win for Lincoln County Business as well as its residents and I think this should really help Nebraska business and hopefully the state as we continue to move this process forward."
Johanson said now that his case has been dismissed, he can now focus on other things.
"From here, you know, we get to look towards the future again which is great because I can look at expanding and doing some new things and not have this hanging over my head," said Johanson, "Really looking forward to the future and just continue to expand on product lines bringing in new product lines and try to set up new events for the community and try to help out the community as much as possible."
As far as his future in selling THC or hemp related products.
"Honestly, it's something that we're looking into, this whole thing is just so new that honestly I'm just really enjoying finding out the fact that we're no longer fighting this battle so that's something that we are going to explore and definitely look into and we'll go from there."
He said he had a lot of reinforcement through his trial. "I had so much support through all this and I can't thank my supporters enough, they're part of what got me through all this and so yeah just a gigantic thank you to everybody that's out there that has supported Elite Lifestyles through all this," said Johanson. "It has just been a highly stressful situation to deal with so to find out that it got dismissed was just a true blessing."