JACKSON — On a grassy field south of Victor, semifamous LSD chemist Casey Hardison is camped out under a makeshift birch tree tent with his partner, Victoria Clemente.
Thanks to generous Facebook Marketplace neighbors, the pair have amassed an eclectic furniture collection, and on a recent Thursday, they sat in the shade of the tarp, where they’ve lived for the past month, awaiting Hardison’s appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Hardison, 49, was originally wanted in Teton County on charges of delivery of marijuana and aggravated assault and battery after he drove off from a sting with sheriff’s deputies. At the time, he said he had no idea he’d just made a sale to law enforcement, and he returned home to an 800-acre compound in Yorkville, California.
Last August, Mendocino County sheriff’s deputies escorted him off the property at gunpoint, he said, and he was extradited back to Jackson.
In Teton County District Court in March, Judge Timothy Day sentenced Hardison to a year in county jail for two felony counts of delivery of marijuana, but that sentence is on hold pending appeal.
While Hardison sorts out his legal situation, he has made a couple of key renovations to the Victor field where he’s living. Thanks to a Calyx internet hotspot, he’s able to day trade cryptocurrency and FaceTime with his children, Myler, 5, and Marilyn, 8, who has a developmental disability.
They are staying with family in California while he tries to find a more accommodating place to stay, Hardison said, adding that money isn’t the issue.
The tarp structure, inspired by shelters he saw at the popular Burning Man festival, is surrounded by three cars with California license plates and, despite the flies, boasts a Yeti cooler and full camp cooking setup.
“We created it because I didn’t have a place to live because I couldn’t find a place, and I’ve been looking for months,” he said.
Since October, Hardison had not been able to return to the West Coast to retrieve his belongings, but that changed in late June, when Judge Day signed a stipulated order modifying bond, which allowed him to travel to California for two weeks, and travel freely within Wyoming. That will allow him to meet with his lawyer, Cody Jerabek, in Cheyenne.
Hardison said he had been waiting for the judge to sign the paperwork, which was agreed on by the prosecution, for months. And even now, he’s concerned about the wording: “The Defendant may have a two-week travel pass to the State of California at the direction of his probation officer,” because he said he doesn’t have a probation officer.
Molly Dearing, judicial assistant to Judge Day, declined to comment on the order other than to confirm in an email to the News&Guide that the stipulated order was presented to the court for its signature by counsel on June 22.
Back at the field he currently calls home, Hardison leaned across his wooden dining table and railed against current Wyoming drug law, arguing it is implemented unevenly.
In court, Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Carly Anderson said Hardison’s opinions on the lack of constitutionality of the state’s drug laws are just his way of trying to legalize marijuana, which she said was a legislative issue.
But Hardison sees this case as an open door, a chance to change drug laws for the better, thanks to an appeal at the state level.
“I don’t think it’s a policing matter,” he said. “I think it’s a health matter. I think it’s a personal liberty matter. It’s absolutely absurd that we’ve had 50 years of a war on drugs that has not resulted in a victory or any solution.”
The drug user, maker and distributor points out the irony: In California, his compound is a verified cannabis farm with three grow licenses and a nursery license. His refinery equipment could pay for a house, he said. But because the drug is illegal in Wyoming, he was taken from his property, which he lost due to an inability to make payments.
His case is set to be heard in the Wyoming Supreme Court later this summer. Hardison expects to live out of his makeshift camp for at least a year.