Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 3, 20176min500

If U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks he can score political points for Republicans by coming after Colorado’s pot, then a whole Phish concert would want what he must be smoking.

State Sen. Tim Neville doesn’t like pot, not to smoke it or eat it.  He didn’t vote to legalize in 2012, but like a handful of lawmakers with some of the most conservative bonafides in the statehouse, he sees the issue as much more than stoners and Cheetos.

He took a break to talk on the phone on a recent Friday morning, as he and other senators brewed up some suds to serve at the Great American Beer Festival, an annual competition with the House. “Haze,” suggesting a thick microscopic brew, is expected to be part of the name of their brew, he said.

Neville and other legislative Republicans have gotten onboard to make sure marijuana is strictly regulated — a given for a tough guy like Neville — but regulated and taxed fairly, like any other business.

Plus it’s in the state constitution now, and Neville said he takes his oath to uphold that document deadly serious.

“It’s something all of us have to be involved with now,” Neville said.

In Neville’s view voters agreed to legalize pot on the condition that it’s well-regulated with a focus on keeping it out of the hands of people younger than 21.

“Once the people in (Colorado) said yes, it was up to us to craft the best policies possible,” he said.

Now that marijuana is a legal business, it should be treated as fairly as any other legal business.

Neville and fellow Republican Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins drove the conversation and legislation on creating clubs where people could use pot the same way they enjoy beer and booze in bars.

I told you in February they saw it as commonsense and good business, not reefer madness. Marble said the state invites tourists, allows them to buy pot, but then designates no place for them to smoke it legally. Most hotel rooms won’t even allow it.

“The one thing we do not want in this state is for people to come on vacation and leave on probation,” said Marble, who successfully passed a bill to allow people to seal misdemeanor arrest records for marijuana if what they did was made legal by Amendment 64.

In the last session, Neville linked arms with Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from Longmont, on a bill to allow pot shops to operate more efficiently. Pretty liberal, Singer has been the chief proponent of reasonable but thorough regulation from the start. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, including from Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham and Democratic House Speak Crisanta Duran. The governor signed it into law in June.

“My feeling is that when businesses operate more efficiently, it’s good for everyone,” Neville said of knocking down pointless, expensive hurdles for business, a general passion of his. “My real fear is that if we don’t allow businesses to operate as an industry, it’s just going to backslide into an area we can’t control, the gray market or the black market.”

Neville isn’t the only Republican driving the magic bus.

Out of 23 pot-specific bills in the last session, 19 had bipartisan sponsorship and 18 became law.

Colorado Springs Rep. Bob Gardner joined with Democrat Dan Pabon of Denver on legislation to create pot clubs, after Marble and Neville’s bill died in a Senate committee. The House and Senate, in bipartisan fashion, passed different versions of the bill.

On the last night of the session, lawmakers were debating how many people should be allowed to smoke pot on a porch, which might qualify it as a club.

Neville said he expects a compromise on pot clubs before the next session begins in January,

But hemp, the non-intoxicating stalk, was a big bipartisan winner this year.

And Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, is getting in on the hemp game.

He told me at the State Fair that he has 10 acres in hemp, and he’s putting in a processing facility. That’s putting your money where your bipartisanship is.

He named his operation Paradox Ventures, and Coram hopes to be a Colorado pioneer.

“The voters approved it,” Coram said. “Who am I to override that?”

Neither Neville nor Coram are worried about Sessions’s saber-rattling on cannabis with federal laws that still criminalize marijuana.

“I’m really not concerned,” Coram said at the carnival.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 21, 20166min395

Fusing two booming Colorado industries, Mason “Dude” Hembree plans to launch a line of cannabis-infused beers — yes, cannabis-infused beers. The brews, coined George Washington’s Secret Stash will launch early next year. Under his brewery Dad and Dudes Breweria, he’ll untap the beer, made with extract from cannabis sativa stalk and stem, at the Great American Beer Festival in October. “The excitement we received last year was proof the country is not only ready for cannabis reform, but for cannabis infused beer,” Hembree said.


Kara MasonKara MasonJanuary 19, 20163min580
Pouty House Reps. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, flanked by proud Sens. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, left, and Chris Holbert, R-Parker, with brewer friends.
Pouty House Reps. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, flanked by proud Sens. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, left, and Chris Holbert, R-Parker, with brewer friends.

The House brew team at the Legislature begrudgingly handed over the highly sought-after crown of cold ones — the beer caucus trophy — to the Senate brew team Tuesday morning in celebration of the upper chamber’s victory at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival’s “Hop the Vote” competition.

The Senate team — Sens. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, Matt Jones, D-Louisville, Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, Tim Neville, R-Littleton and Pat Steadman, D-Denver — won at the October festival with an offering the team dubbed “Senate Shoutout Stout,” a mocha brew made with locally roasted coffee.

The House team — Reps. Jeni James Arndt, D-Fort Collins, Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton, Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, Dan Pabon, D-Denver, Kim Ransom, R-Littleton and Yeullin Willet, R-Grand Junction — entered a grapefruit pale ale, dubbed the “The Ayes Have It Aye-PA.”

Golden’s Cannonball Creek Brewing guided the Senate during the summer to brew the winning beer. House members worked with Big Choice Brewing out of Broomfield.

“Can we expect a ‘Partisan Pale Ale’?” Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, jokingly asked the chamber upon receiving the trophy.

Then came lots of celebratory photo taking.

Upbeat Senate staffers said later that the winning beer was “pretty good.”

The Hop the Vote competition was launched in 2014 to feature brew culture in Colorado and underline the increasing role it plays in the state economy. The House team won the inaugural event with a beer called “Representative Saison.”

The winner is decided each year by hops-filled attendees at the state’s popular beer fest held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.