FRANKFORT, Ky. – Just over a year ago, a legend in Kentucky politics passed away.

Lexington lawyer Gatewood Galbraith was a gatewoodportraitperennial gubernatorial candidate, running for the highest office in the Commonwealth five times. He also took a shot at Congress twice and made an unsuccessful bid for state Agricultural Commissioner. The lack of election success never seemed to faze the unflappable Galbraith. He often quipped, “If I was going to lie to you, I’d already be elected.”

Galbraith stood out for many reasons, but his advocation for marijuana legalization set him apart in Kentucky politics. He pushed for pot long before it was politically acceptable. As far back as 1990, Galbraith made no apologies for his support of legal weed.

“People say, ‘How can you be a practicing attorney and smoke marijuana?’ My response to that is: ‘Hey, if slavery were still legal, I’d be heading the underground railroad. If the Vietnam War were still going on, I’d be out in the streets demonstrating. If segregation were still intact, I’d be sitting at a lunch counter somewhere.”

During the 2013 legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers will consider a bill bearing Galbraith’s name that would legalize medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State

Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) prefiled BR55 back in August. The Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act would “Create various new sections of KRS Chapter 218A to establish a comprehensive system for medical marijuana in Kentucky, including provisions for medical verification of need, persons allowed to cultivate, use, and possess the drug, organizations allowed to assist in providing the drug, regulation by the state Department for Public Health, the interaction with state and local governments, including law enforcement.”

“This is not a conservative issue or a liberal issue; it’s an issue of compassion,” Clark said last summer. “Countless studies show that marijuana is effective at treating pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms. If it was my family member, I would do anything to relieve their suffering.”

If the legislature passes the bill, Kentucky would become the 19th state defying federal law and moving ahead with the medicinal use of marijuana. That prospect would certainly please Galbraith.

“Our relationship with Mother Earth is the most basic relationship that we have in this birth-death cycle. And when a government tells us that we cannot go to our mother source that is Earth, and plant a seed in God’s green earth, and utilize the green plant that comes up out of there in its natural form for our fiber and food and medicine needs, then that government is awry and that government no longer represents the best interests of the citizens of this country,” he said in a 1991 speech.

The 2013 Kentucky legislative session begins Jan. 8 and is scheduled to run through March.

BR55 was assigned to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary.


If you live in Kentucky, contact committee members and urge them to pass the bill out for full consideration. You can find contact information HERE.

Also, contact your senator and representative and urge them to support the legislation. You can find your legislator contact information HERE.

If you don’t live in Kentucky, urge your legislators to introduce legislation to legalize medical marijuana. And if your state has legal medicinal cannabis, urge your lawmakers to consider full legalization. You can find model legislation and track efforts across the U.S. HERE.

Mike Maharrey

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