Hemp legislation father Lloyd Casey, 86, on fight for bill being signed today

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Given the opposition of such powerful interests, it's no surprise that the bill failed to earn a blessing from the ag committee. But Casey managed to attract the attention of a powerful ally, Senator Dave Wattenberg.

"Dave was one of my best friends in the Senate, even though I was a Democrat and he was a Republican," Casey notes. "He was an authentic cowboy from Walden, and he remembered using hemp ropes as a kid -- and when you get that kind of rope around a steer's neck or a horse's neck, the horse drops right away, because the rope doesn't stretch.

"Those cowboys get graded by the tenth of a second, and with a hemp rope, it's boom, on the ground. So he said to me, 'If you bring this bill back in '96, I assure you, we'll get it done for you.'"

The effort wasn't a smooth one. In February 1996, Casey and his supporters gained possession of a hemp bale they planned to bring before a committee as a visual aid. But as the Denver Post reported at the time, a representative of the Denver Police Department seized it for testing, to make sure it didn't contain any THC. It didn't, and was eventually returned.

What happened next?

"Dave got it approved by the Senate agriculture committee," Casey says, "and it went into the full Senate, where there were sixteen Democrats and nineteen Republicans -- and he rounded up his good Republican friends and got it out of the Senate, too."

But that was as far as it got. Casey's account: "Unfortunately, when it got over to the House, the agriculture committee members, who were facing an election in November, thought, 'Oh my God, if I vote for this, some opponent is going to accuse me of pushing marijuana. So it died in the House -- and that was my last year. I served from '93 to '96."

Continue for more about Lloyd Casey's fight for hemp legalization.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts