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1997 | Harrelson shows up to movie premiere in Kentucky Hemp Museum

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

As if Harrelson hadn't drawn enough media attention, on January 8, 1997 Woody arrived in the Kentucky Hemp Museum van, wearing a tuxedo, and his "100% hemp Kentucky" cap to the Cincinnati premiere of his film, The People vs. Larry Flynt. With him on his arm, none other than Simpsonville schoolteacher, Donna Cockrel. An article written in the Lexington Herald-Leader claimed, "not even a glitzy premiere could keep Harrelson's mind off his Kentucky crusade."

Woody credited his role as Mr. Flynt with inspiring him to pursue his crusade to legalize industrial hemp and other causes. He still stood trial for planting hemp seeds, and was arrested in the followering December for climbing the Golden Gate Bridge to protest environmental threats. Without Mr. Flynt's example, Mr. Harrelson said, ''I wouldn't have planted those seeds. I wouldn't have gone into Donna Cockrel's classroom. I wouldn't have hung off the Golden Gate Bridge.''

Ms. Cockrel stood at his left side, grinning when he introduced her as ''The first lady of hemp.'' She was still being investigated for inviting Mr. Harrelson to talk about his pro-hemp crusade before her fifth-grade class. Jennifer O'Banion, 17, of Campbellsville,, Ky., a winner of an essay contest to promote interest in industrial hemp.

"We don't want to get away from Kentucky. It's going to be the first state to make (hemp) legal." The push continued Wednesday night on David Letterman's show: He gave Letterman a hemp hat and Letterman asked: "So you're saying hemp won't get you goofy?" Harrelson: "That's a proven fact." Letterman quickly tossed the hat.

During the premiere, Woody was asked about, "running for governor of Kentucky on the all-hemp ticket." He responded with a smirk.

Click the links below to learn more about the Harrelson and Cockrel trials:

1996 | Woody Harrelson speaks at Simpsonville Elementary

1996 | Woody Harrelson arrested for planting hemp in Kentucky

1996 | Donna Cockrel investigated after Woody Harrelson hemp presentation

1996 | Kentucky Hemp Museum & Library launches mobile exhibit

1996 | Woody Harrelson launches hemp essay contest

1996 | School trys to revoke Donna Cockrel's teaching certificate

1996 | Woody Harrelson defends Donna Cockrel

1996 | Woody Harrelson announces hemp essay winners

1996 | Charges dismissed against Woody Harrelson for Kentucky hemp planting

1997 | Kentucky Hemp Museum takes Harrelson, Cockrel and essay winner to movie premiere

1997 | Parents protest against Woody Harrelson's scheduled second visit

1997 | Court finds statute "overbroad" after Harrelson charges are dismissed

1997 | Woody Harrelson makes second visit to Simpsonville Elementary

1997 | Parents want Donna Cockrel fired after second Woody Harrelson hemp presentation

1997 | School Evaluation Claims Donna Cockrel Fails to Meet Performance Requirements

1997 | Kentucky General Assembly Hears Testimony On Hemp

1997 | Donna Cockrel is fired from Simpsonville Elementary

1997 | Woody Harrelson issues statement regarding Donna Cockrel's termination

1998 | Cockrel files suit against Shelby County schools

1998 | Farmers sue to overturn ban on hemp

2000 | Kentucky Supreme Court rules no distinction between hemp and marijuana

2000 | Woody Harrelson acquitted of hemp charges

2001 | Court reverses decision in Donna Cockrel vs. Shelby County schools

2003 | Donna Cockrel receives $70,000 settlement




Isaacs, B. (1997, January 10). HARRELSON: HEMP'S CAPPED CRUSADER. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

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