Slide 1
Slide 2

Coloradan to aid actor in hemp trial

Posted on August 23, 2000

Denver, Colorado — Former Colorado lawmaker Lloyd Casey remembers when actor Woody Harrelson went to bat for him.

That’s why he’s boarding a plane today for Lexington, Kentucky, to see if he can return the favor by helping Harrelson with a cause both men are fighting for — the legalization of hemp.

“I intend to testify at his trial,” said the former Democratic state senator from Northglenn.

Harrelson is going on trial for marijuana possession after planting four hemp seeds in 1996 to challenge a Kentucky law prohibiting the possession of any part of a cannabis plant.

Casey led the charge in Colorado a few years ago to legalize the growing of hemp in the state.

He failed miserably his first year, getting only a single vote in committee. But in 1996, the bill was approved in the Senate, only to die in a House committee when two Democrats who had promised their support changed their minds.

Casey said it was a letter from Harrelson that he read to the Senate Agriculture Committee that helped get the bill approved there. Harrelson couldn’t be there in person because of a filming commitment.

“Industrial hemp has never, and could never, be used for drug trafficking,” wrote Harrelson, an investor in a hemp clothing company and import firm. “You could smoke a pound and not get high.”

Casey, who has kept in touch with Harrelson by e-mail and telephone, said he was convinced the actor’s letter was “influential” in getting the legislation approved. Harrelson also offered to buy Colorado’s first 40-acre crop, which would have been authorized by the bill.

“Now I want to return the favor,” said the 73-year-old former lawmaker, who once wore a spiffy burnt-crimson vest, dress shirt and socks made of industrial hemp to the Capitol to prove it had other uses than just smoking.

Harrelson already has battled through the court system in Kentucky to try to convince judges that the law is unconstitutional because it doesn’t distinguish between marijuana and hemp, which contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannobinol or THC, which provides smokers with a high.

That fight ended when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled there’s no difference between the two. So now Harrelson must go on trial.

“We hope to get a ruling by a jury that the law is 100 percent wrong,” said Casey. “It’s hemp. It’s not marijuana. The law is total insanity. Woody is not guilty of anything.”

By the way, Casey said he won’t be wearing his hemp vest, shirt or socks when he testifies.

Copyright © 2000, Rocky Mountain News. All rights reserved.