Bumper stickers from Gatewood's last run for governor.
Sometimes the only time one gets taken seriously is after life is over. Thus was the case of Gatewood Galbraith the biting fly that wouldn't go away. Until he did.
I saw this sign as I walked through downtown Lexington last week. It brought a jolt of satisfaction that an old friend's work has not been forgotten.
Galbraith espoused the usage of marijuana long before Colorado and other states made it legal and started taxing and regulating its sale. Research being done into the uses of the drug are promising for diseases that affect the brain and nervous system. Families with children with seizure disorder talk hopefully of controlling
Gatewood never denied that marijuana was a drug. He said that it was a drug less dangerous than alcohol, not as dangerous as the scheduled drug it is still listed as under the federal system.
Galbraith also preached the gospel of hemp, reminding listeners often that Henry Clay grew hemp. It wasn't until the Forties that hemp became synonymous with marijuana. Hemp doesn't have the intoxicating level of THC of its more potent cousin. Generations of young people trying to get high smoking hemp got a rude surprise - and more often than not a mild headache for their efforts.
Kentucky was once the world leader in growing hemp. It could be again. Creating products and jobs close to growers. Replacing expensive, polluting fossil fuels. When the federal government quits treating hemp like poison ivy and acknowledges its usefulness, the last vestige of superstitious banning will end.
The attitude of family contagion that equates hemp with marijuana once haunted the tomato. A member of the nightshade family, the tomato was considered as poisonous as deadly nightshade. According to Tomato History, during Colonial Times, Americans wouldn't put a tomato near our mouths, let alone try to eat one. Folklore had it that if you ate a tomato, its poison would turn your blood into acid. Instead, the colonists grew tomatoes purely for decoration.
So it is with hemp. One relatively wild eyed cousin and it got painted with the same brush. We won't put demon hemp near our bodies or our factories or our farms for fear of reefer madness. It is time and past time for government to stop the madness of guilt by contagion.
Gatewood was right. Too bad he passed before he could say "I told you so."