A judge told Casey Hardison at his sentencing hearing this week that it’s fine to advocate for changing drug laws, but that delivering large amounts of marijuana in Teton County isn’t the way to go about it.
In 9th Judicial District Court, Judge Timothy Day sentenced Hardison on Tuesday to a year in the county jail for two felony counts of delivery of marijuana.
“The court understands that around the country and even in Wyoming some of the laws may be changing,” Day said in court, referencing the possible legalization of marijuana. “But it hasn’t yet, and the court is bound to the law as it stands. I mentioned before that I appreciated Mr. Hardison’s constitutional arguments and found them to be at the very least quite interesting.”
Hardison, who pleaded no contest to two felony delivery charges in an agreement with prosecutors, will be given credit for more than 100 days that he already served in the Teton County Jail.
The defendant has been vocal about his opinions regarding the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act, saying it’s unconstitutional. Judge Day said those arguments are better suited for the Wyoming Supreme Court, so Hardison took a plea deal and reserved his rights to appeal and make his case at a higher court.
Hardison had been facing five felony charges, including aggravated assault, stemming from a 2018 undercover drug buy that involved the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. Hardison continued to argue that there was no evidence of an assault, whereas the agents accused him of trying to run them over with his car and leading them on a pursuit through Jackson.
Hardison’s attorney, Cody Jerabek, argued for probation, saying his client was “ecstatic to comply with probation.”
“He has remained sober and complied with conditions,” Jerabek said.
Hardison also promised the court that he’d abide by release terms if allowed probation, because violating the terms would only jeopardize his lobbying goals.
“My constitutional arguments are very important, and I want that opportunity,” Hardison said in court.
The state argued for prison, saying probation has never been a deterrent for the defendant.
Day’s sentence lands somewhere in between what the state wanted and what Hardison and his attorney asked for.
“I believe he is genuine in his advocacy attempts to legalize certain drugs,” Day said in court, “but selling it in this quantity isn’t advocacy. It’s a commercial effort.”
Hardison is supposed to turn himself in to the Teton County Jail early next week, but an appeal is likely, which would pause his sentence.
Read more about this story in next week’s Jackson Hole News&Guide.