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

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More photos below.
When Governor John Hickenlooper signs a hemp-farming registry bill later this morning, no one will be happier than Lloyd Casey. The 86-year-old former state senator, who now lives in Ohio, first introduced a hemp-legalization bill in the mid-1990s, but was rebuffed not once but twice by powerful interests, including a DEA agent who still rankles him nearly twenty years later. "I said, 'Goddamn it, I'm going to live long enough to make this happen, and I'd love to rub your face in it,'" he recalls -- and he's scheduled to be on hand to witness today's signing. Here's his story.

"I was elected to the Senate in '92 and started in January of '93," he says. "And having been a World War II veteran of the Navy, I was aware that during the war, they'd had farmers planting hemp, because they were building ships like they were going out of style and they couldn't get enough of the fibers. And there were some students at the University of Colorado who were interested in the subject" -- including Laura Kriho, who now heads the Cannabis Therapy Institute and remains close with Casey to this day.

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A '90s-era photo of Lloyd Casey and Laura Kriho.
"I went up and met with them," Casey continues, "and they assured me that industrial hemp doesn't have any THC in it, so we're not talking about marijuana. They explained to me that it's too bad people think marijuana is a plant in and of itself. The plant is cannabis, which is where we get the word 'canvas,' like the canvas used on covered wagons that settled the West. And after listening to them, I said, 'Okay, I'll give hemp legalization a shot.'"

The then-novice legislator held off on championing hemp until he'd gotten his feet as a lawmaker, and when he did, "some of the other Democratic senators said, 'Oh my God, Casey, don't screw around with it. Nobody is going to take the time to figure out that what you're talking about is other than marijuana.' But when the session started in '95, I thought, 'The hell with them. I'm going to give this a shot.'"

He was inspired in part by a trip to Minneapolis, where he met with a group from the North American Industrial Hemp Association, including numerous academics and "guys in the paper business who were saying, 'It's totally ridiculous that we're not growing this in the United States. They're growing it every place else on the planet, especially in Canada.' And I thought it could really help American farmers."

To his chagrin, resistance to hemp legalization was immediate. "The DEA came after me, the state DAs came after me, the city police came after me, even the MADD mothers came after me," he recalls, with the last comment being a reference to negative testimony from a representative of the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "It was such a pain in the ass I thought I should have just lit up a joint" -- something he'd never done. In his words, "I figured that between alcohol and caffeine, I was drugged up enough."

The DEA's approach to the measure especially rankled Casey. Shortly before the agriculture committee was to debate the bill, the agency sent a fax to legislators threatening them with a violation of federal law if they passed the bill. Casey responded with the following letter to one DEA rep:

On page three of your February 16, 1995 faxed letter at 10:56 am your words are, in part,

"...my 31 years as a federal drug agent...this legislation is no more than a shallow ruse...the people of Colorado deserve to be protected from this sort of subterfuge."

You had been invited in December to participate in an open forum concerning the bill I had agreed to sponsor which would allow a crop of industrial hemp. I had spent five months of investigating the history of hemp as an industrial crop. My expectation was that the D.E.A. would accord me the courtesy of two or three hours to find out if the D.E.A. would or would not accept the honesty of my decision to sponsor the bill.

You chose to cancel the day prior to the scheduled meeting, time and place. You had a draft of the bill. Your words, quoted above, would have been graciously received in January. Your words, arriving by fax just 2 1/2 hours prior to the committee vote, are arrogant and insulting.

You have been on the taxpayer's payroll for so long, you have become like many bureaucrats who have forgotten the basic employer-employee relationship. You are the employee and the taxpayers are the employer.

To paraphrase your arrogance, mine is; I believe my 68 years, which includes WWII service on a destroyer in the South Pacific, a master's degree in Theology, seven children, twelve grandchildren and forty-six years of community service, make me an expert in recognizing a shallow person playing the role of a bureaucratic big shot.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Casey
State Senator

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

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10 comments
jamesmcvaney
jamesmcvaney

Arrrr..... an elusive triplicate post. Opppppppps

jamesmcvaney
jamesmcvaney

Thank you Honorable fmr. Senator Casey, your efforts where the seed of our success in getting industrial hemp legal in Colorado.

I ran, and fully self financed , with my life savings, the pro amendment 64 issue committee called Vote Hemp Yes on 64 (find us on Facebook). I also put many thousands of dollars into an advocate group called hemp cleans for their start up costs and lobbying efforts at the capital this year.

However, one of the main reasons why I chose to give so much was because the hemp issue in Colorado was not new, as it had been brought up in the 1990's by Senator Casey. Had the conversation not been started back then, I know, without a doubt, I would have not had such an easy time convincing rural Coloradans to view for A64 because of the hemp provision.

I only wish I was in Colorado today, instead of on my much deserved vacation, so I could shake your hand and thank you for your service in person. Instead please accept this digital Thank you note.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I'm %100 behind the American farmer ! 

You know,  the one's w/ kids and grandchildren, strung out on meth . 

1/4 of those in OK were searching desperately through the tornado's rubble for their lost 'stashes' .....

Oklahoma NEEDS drugs ! All the labs & gardens were totally destroyed !

We are talking a meth shortage NONE like the state has EVER seen !

Karen Byars
Karen Byars

I took the photo you are using of Casey (which is fine, though if you would give me photo credit for my resume' that's would be good) the background story to the photo is 'Colorado Senator Lloyd Casey right before the Agriculture Committee 1996, Casey was the first legislator in the country to attempt to reintroduce hemp in the U.S. He is wearing a EarthTribes Hemp vest I gave him to the hearing breaking dress protocol, I loved working with Casey.'

Josko Barron
Josko Barron

If hemp would become leagl, we would not be dependent on any contry. But that wont happen because the politicians have there pockets lined deep with corpations money

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Josko Barron .. illiterate nonsense.


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