^
Keep Westword Free
4

Larimer County Sheriff Clamps Down on This Weekend's NoCo Hemp Expo

Larimer County law enforcement seems to be taking its cues from Nebraska lately. A month after Sheriff Justin Smith headlined a lawsuit aimed at Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, alleging that the state violated federal law by passing Amendment 64, his department has decided hemp is a public menace as well.

Morris Beegle began organizing his Second Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, which is scheduled to take place this weekend at the Loveland Ranch Event Center, months ago. However, two weeks ago, he was told by Ranch officials that exhibitors couldn't bring hemp plants or germinating seeds. The Larimer County Sheriff's Department said the presence of hemp would violate federal law— Amendment 64, and its distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, notwithstanding

"The Sheriff's position is that it's still Schedule 1 and illegal on the federal level, and he can't tell the difference between a hemp plant and a marijuana plant or a hemp seed and a marijuana seed," Beegle says.

According to Beegle, he was told the presence of live hemp plants and seed could "jeopardize millions of dollars in grant money the county receives from the federal government."

"To me, that's just a big smoke screen," he says.

Beegle says canceling or rescheduling the event this late was out of the question because of the short notice, and that he lays no blame at the Ranch, which he says has been extremely helpful in the matter. But Larimer County's position, he adds, is simply anti-business and anti-cannabis. He's considering holding the next NoCo Hemp Expo somewhere else.

"I'm more than happy to look at Boulder County, Denver County or Adams County to move this thing [next year]," he says. 

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

This isn't the first time Smith's office has embraced a controversial interpretation of the law. Before leading the lawsuit against Hickenlooper, he publicly stated his department wouldn't enforce any potential gun-control laws from the federal government, calling them "unconstitutional."

The Second Annual NoCo Hemp Expo will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. with many of the vendors, exhibits and speakers promised, including U.S. Representative Jared Pollis.

The Ranch Events Center, Larimer County Sheriff and County Attorney could not be reached for comment.

Have a tip? Email it to thomas.mitchell@westword.com

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.