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1990 | Gatewood Galbraith advocates for hemp in Kentucky

Updated: Jan 18, 2019

A Kentucky politician who unsuccessfully ran for state agriculture commissioner, attorney general, and governor five times is credited for bringing hemp back into mainstream Kentucky politics post prohibition. “Gatewood,” as he was simply known throughout the Commonwealth, was a vocal advocate for ending the prohibition of cannabis, which resulted in close friendships with country singer Willie Nelson, politician Ralph Nader and actor Woody Harrelson.

Gatewood Galbraith (Photo from
Gatewood Galbraith (Photo from
Gatewood Galbraith

Louis Gatewood Galbraith (January 23, 1947 – January 4, 2012) was born and raised in Carlisle, Kentucky. Galbraith’s interest in politics started as a young boy after he heard a speech by Gov. Bert Combs. He graduated from the University of Kentucky for both his undergraduate and law degrees.

Always running with limited fundraising and on the outskirts of mainstream politics, Galbraith ran for Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner post in 1983; Kentucky’s attorney general position in 2003; Congress in 2000 and 2002; and governor five times: in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2007 and 2011. At different points, he ran as a candidate for the Democratic Party, Reform Party and as an Independent. Galbraith never won more than 15 percent of the vote in any party primary.

Everywhere he traveled, Gatewood touted the economic benefits of industrial hemp as a cash crop, citing Kentucky’s long and successful history as a hemp-producing state prior to its prohibition in 1937. He found allies in nooks and crannies not often touched by politics, from elderly farmers whose families had successfully grown hemp in the early part of the 20th century for WWII to enterprising entrepreneurs who could see how the legalization of hemp could jumpstart stagnant rural economies. Galbraith was even said to have worn suits made of hemp fiber on the campaign trail.

“One hundred years ago, the farmer produced all of the fiber, all of the medicine, all of the fuel and all of the food that society consumes,” Gatewood told a team of documentarians in the 1990s. “Does the government have the right [today] to tell man or woman that they cannot plant a seed in God’s green earth and consume the green natural plant that comes up out of it? That seems such an inalienable right.”

After his death, Modern Farmer magazine credited him as the person who brought hemp to modern-day Kentucky. it wrote that it was Galbraith who traveled the state, touting “the economic benefits of industrial hemp as a cash crop, citing Kentucky’s long and successful history as a hemp-producing state prior to (the crop’s) prohibition in 1937.”

Video : Gatewood Galbraith talks about the contributions made by Jack Herer to re-introduce hemp back into the economy (Video Credit: Time 4 Hemp).

In loving memory of Louis Gatewood Galbraith (January 23, 1947 - January 3, 2012)



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