Dixie Elixirs owner and founder Tripp Keber didn't get to do much hanging out at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama two weeks ago, after a security guard kicked off a search that resulted in misdemeanor (and initially felony) drug charges against the Denver businessman.
Alabama law prevents us from accessing Keber's arrest report. But a Baldwin County Sheriff's Department spokesman filled us in about the incident, which took place at around 2 p.m. on May 18.
The whole situation sounds pretty Keystone Kop-ish. Apparently, a security guard checking backpacks told sheriff's deputies working the grounds that he'd seen a pill of some sort; it was suspected of being Adderall, the spokesman told us. Shortly thereafter, a deputy asked Keber if he could conduct a search and he consented.
That's when the sheriff's department rep says the deputy found "something sharp" in Keber's pocket -- which turned out to be liquid THC with toothpicks in it (we have no idea, either).
That explains the marijuana charge -- which wouldn't have even been a crime here in Colorado.
Police initially said they also found two vials that registered positive for cocaine using a field test. That would have carried a felony charge in Alabama.
Under Colorado law, people with felony convictions aren't allowed to work in the medical marijuana industry at all and are precluded from taking part in the newly created recreational pot industry for at least a decade.
Fortunately for Keber, the more serious charges didn't stick -- and when we spoke with him last week, he said he didn't have any cocaine in his possession.
However, Keber owned up to having the THC on him. He chalked up the incident to a mistake in judgment.
A short time later, Keber struck a deal in court: He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession, resulting in a two-year probationary sentence that includes random drug and alcohol testing. Keber says he's required to phone in daily and take a test whenever he's told to do so.
If all goes well, the charges will eventually be wiped from his record. Keber says he's two weeks into the "cleanse" and is feeling great.
Continue for more about the arrest of Tripp Keber. "I was processed without adjudication for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (2nd degree) last week and the matter was closed," he wrote to us in a note that supplemented our conversation. "This event had nothing to do with business and I was on vacation in AL and possessed approx 2/10 of a gram on THC. Tough break but will have no impact on my role as Managing Director of Dixie or Pres/CEO of Red Dice Holdings."
Keber, 44, has had a pretty high profile in the media lately, with appearances on CNN and features in Vice magazine. He was also just named to the board of the National Cannabis Industry Association along with David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Soap fame, Steve DeAngelo of the famous Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Denver marijuana attorney and Amendment 64 co-author Christian Sederberg, and several dispensary owners from Denver, including those involved with The Clinic and Pink House.
According to the sheriff's department spokesman, Keber was one of 68 people busted for drugs at the festival -- and very few were for marijuana alone. "You really had to talk yourself into that ticket," he added.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
But he also said law enforcers saw a noticeable increase in California and Colorado people showing up with ganja, including electronic cigarette-style vapes. In his words, "Until it was legalized out West, we didn't really see much of that kind of thing,"
Yes, they are on to us. Below, check out a video of Keber on CNN after Amendment 64 passed:
More from our Marijuana archive circa November 2010: "Dixie Elixirs: Colorado medical marijuana soda company gets fizzy facelift."