Gatewood Galbraith's legacy lives on at fourth Fancy Farm since his death

08/03/2015 01:17 PM

UPDATED WITH PACKAGE FANCY FARM — Since Gatewood Galbraith’s death in January 2012, Rebecca “Babycoaldust” Collins and others who espouse the outspoken late politico’s beliefs have ensured his legacy is represented every first Saturday in August.

Shaded beneath a tent shared with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana and behind a table filled with books, buttons and stickers, Collins said that while many recall Galbraith’s staunch advocacy to legalize marijuana and hemp, her group, called Gatewood’s Legacy, hopes to reinforce his broader views on personal freedom.

Galbraith, who unsuccessfully ran for governor fives times in his colorful political career, “wanted everybody to stand up for their own freedoms,” she said.

“Yeah, he was for the hemp and for the marijuana, but it’s because he understood the value of the profit that this state could make and jobs that it could create, you know, so o we’re just about trying to educate people to get them to understand that this plant and things is not a bad thing,” Collins said, “and you have to stand up and fight for your freedoms.”

Cannabis laws have changed considerably in Kentucky and the U.S. since Galbraith’s death at age 64. The state legalized industrial hemp in 2013 and cannabidiol the year after, and 23 states offer medical marijuana while four have lifted bans on recreational marijuana.

What’s more, Congress may take more expansive steps to legitimize medical and recreational cannabis industries.

As outlined by James Higdon in Politico on Thursday, Congress has only recently voted to prevent federal intervention in medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs, and committees in the GOP-led Senate this year have moved legislation that would allow U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to advise patients on entering state-administered medical cannabis systems and open relationships between marijuana-related industries and banks.

For Jaime Montalvo of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, attitudes aren’t just shifting in Washington.

“To tell you the truth we really have not met much opposition when it comes to medical cannabis,” he said. “… It’s really hard for a legislator to tell a sick person, ‘No, I don’t feel that you need access to this medicine to feel better.’”

Medical cannabis legislation received its first and so far only vote in the General Assembly in 2014, clearing the House Health and Welfare Committee on a party-line 9-5 vote.

Montalvo believes recent congressional action will only apply more pressure on states like Kentucky to enact medical marijuana laws, particularly given U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s sponsorship of the CARERS Act that would reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug in recognition of medical benefit. The bill would not legalize medicinal marijuana nationwide, but rather allow state-run programs to continue unabated and give VA physicians the ability to write prescriptions for the drug.

“There’s a lot of movement federally, and I think it’s really helping us along here in the state,” Montalvo said. “I know that the legislators here in Kentucky have heard about it and they are asking us questions. We’re really getting a bigger dialogue with the legislators.”

The issue is an important one to voters like Collins, whose family could have benefitted from medical cannabis during cancer treatments.

“Some of ‘em get so nauseated,” she said. “I’ve got a stepdaughter that just went through stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you know, and she’s been taking the chemo and radiation. It’s devastating, devastating to see this sickness. But afraid to even try maybe a brownie to keep the nausea because why? It’s illegal. Are you kidding me?”

Collins said she has not spoken with either major-party candidate in this year’s governor’s race and, as of now, is supporting write-in candidate Blackii Effing Whyte of Berea, who’s campaigning partially on legalizing marijuana and doing “whatever’s necessary” for the state.

“He says he’s not going to have to worry about doing anything down there because we have the whole Capitol down there full of people that does stuff for you,” she said.


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