Just 2 miles outside of downtown Cave City, Kentucky, the landscape quickly turns from old brick and mortar to farmhouses and dirt roads. Down one such dirt road, a 45-acre plot of land rests nestled between patches of trees, large stretches of wildflowers and tall grasses. Two 2012 Clayton model mobile homes, an old red barn and a spattering of newer-looking structures dot the immense sea of green grass.
The dirt road leads to a gravel pathway almost up to the door of the main house. This is the new home and farm of the Wilson family, one of Kentucky’s first families to enter into the world of hemp farming through the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.
Inside, two men, the heads of the two households, scurry around in the small kitchen of the main home. Dodging the kitchen island, the dog and each other, they are busy making phone calls to clients and searching for a product or a tool or a piece of paper. There is much to be done on this April day, as the summer is quickly approaching.
One of them is a burly bearded man in a farmer’s plaid button down. The hat he wears reads “Green Remedy,” and it is adorned with buttons and pins with pro-hemp sayings, phrases and images. Tufts of curly gray and black hair stick out from beneath the hat, and a salt-and-pepper goatee wraps around his bright smile.
This is Chad Wilson, sometimes better known as the Hemp Preacher.
He doesn’t remember when he first got the name or even who gave it to him; all he knows is that it has caught on over the years.
“I can get up on a soapbox pretty quick,” he laughs. “Thing is I get to speakin’ and it just turns to preachin’.”
Chad knows he is not the only one out there who preaches the power of hemp as a versatile and strong plant. He believes in its abilities to rejuvenate Kentucky farms and the agriculture industry across the nation.
As for his nickname, Chad does not want to end up as the face of Kentucky hemp, although he slowly starting to gain that reputation. He said his biggest goal is to spread the word about the industry and to help it grow with or without his name.
This year, Chad and his family are taking their involvement in the industry one step further. They will be planting and growing their own hemp in order to have a hand in every aspect of the production.
“We’re trying to get into a position where we help others, and we feel like it’s our calling; by doing that we help grow the industry.”
Hemp History and the IHRPP
Hemp has been planted on American soil since the Colonial Era. According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky planted its first crop in 1775, and the state would become the leader in hemp production for years to come. In 1850, hemp production was at its peak with 40,000 tons of the crop coming out of Kentucky’s soil. However, in 1938 all forms of cannabis, including hemp, were outlawed, and so began its disappearance from the American farm.
During World War II, a small resurgence occurred in the industry, as hemp was used to make rope and materials for the war effort. Once the war ended, the crops began to dwindle and died out completely by 1958.
The “Second Prohibition,” as it is called by some hemp enthusiasts, occurred in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed, declaring Marijuana a “Schedule 1 substance.” Although hemp is also from the cannabis plant, it is grown and cultivated differently than marijuana. However, much of the legislation passed in the 19th and 20th centuries lumped both plants together without exception.
While marijuana is grown in a wider, spread out area, hemp farmers hope that stalks will grow up rather than out. Marijuana is also grown and harvested for its THC content. Hemp is cultivated for its seed and fiber. It has been used to make lotions, clothing and hair care products, but until recently it has been a U.S. import.
The 2014 U.S. farm bill allowed certain states to test hemp farm pilot programs. Kentucky was one of the first states to adopt the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, and from its installation has seen the acreage of crops planted go from zero to 2,300 acres in just under 3 years. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture hopes to see continued growth in the industry as the 2017 season begins around late May. However, many local farmers still worry about the risks of industrial hemp farming.
In a letter included in the 2017 IHRPP Policy Guide, Ryan Quarles, KDA Commissioner, stated the importance of maintaining flexibility and strong communication between farmers, government officials and law enforcement agencies:
“Freedom, flexibility and latitude to try new methods and applications are essential to the success of any agricultural research pilot program… the Department must work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to devise and oversee a research pilot program that encourages continued expansion of industrial hemp production while also effectively upholding laws prohibiting marijuana and other illegal drugs.”
Still, some small family farm owners have not seen this kind of flexibility from their local law enforcement and government. In fact, they have experienced quite the opposite sentiment as regulations on percentages of the cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are strictly enforced.
This month, Kentucky agriculture officials seized and burned almost 100 pounds of Kentucky industrial hemp from grower, Lindsay Todd. Her crop, when measured for THC percentage, came out at .4083 percent according to officials. That means the crop was one-tenth over the legal limit of .3 percent, giving officials the right to eliminate it.
Chad Wilson weighed in on the incident, saying that alternatives are necessary if the IHRPP is to continue successfully in Kentucky.
“There have to be rules and regulations, but there also have to be concerns for the farmer and mitigation of loss…the plants are affected by the environment, by the weather, by stress that can throw those levels off,” Chad said.
As long as the law remains at .3 percent and no compensation for loss is provided, Wilson worries other farmers will be reluctant to begin growing their own crops in Kentucky.
How it all began
For most of his life, Chad Wilson, like many of his now critics, had a deep-seated opposition to hemp based on the assumption that it was the same as marijuana and was detrimental to society.
“I didn’t understand what hemp was, that it wasn’t marijuana. That’s how we were raised here in the South,” said Chad. “So I’ve made this incredible journey from where I was to where I am now.”
In 2011, Chad Wilson discovered the benefits of hemp after he began seeing posts about its various uses on Facebook. He started to look deeper, and he found information about the use of industrial hemp farming for vital remediation of the soil.
Then, as he looked further, he found stories about medical hemp and CBD oil helping children and adults with epilepsy or other painful health problems.
After being given the book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy,” Chad said things changed. He is now an advocate and self-proclaimed activist for the agriculture industry and industrial hemp in Kentucky.
In an effort to spread the word about hemp and provide hemp-based products to a larger market across the state and country, Chad and his partner, Chris Smith, founded Green Remedy, Inc., in October 2014. It is a company dedicated to the production of solely hemp products such as hair and skin care items, foods, and oils. The company also sells Cannabidiol products such as tinctures, capsules and concentrates.
Cannabinoids can be found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) does not cause euphoria or intoxication, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Instead, preclinical studies have shown that CBD has “anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.”
Green Remedy, Inc. specializes in the now-legal production of this medicinal cannabis product.
In March 2015, hemp hit home for the Wilson family when Chad’s father suffered a stroke that left him virtually speechless for months. He would look with blank expression at his family members and respond to them with a simple “yes” or “no.”
“I knew we had to get CBD into his body,” Chad said.
Chad’s sister was a nurse practitioner who did not agree with the use of CBD, and she was especially against using it on her father. Not wanting to cause a divide in the family, Chad let go of the idea.
Six months later, Chad’s father was still having trouble formulating full sentences and engaging in conversation. His eyes looked different. They were dimmer than before.
Chad, unable to wait any longer, took his father to his computer. He sat him down and told him to read about the U.S. government patent on CBD oil, which states, “nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”
“Take it,” Chad’s father looked at him with pleading eyes. “I’ll take it.”
In less than 10 days, Chad noticed a change. His father was speaking again, in full sentences. A year later he was laughing, joking and living on his own with a new lease on life.
“They said he would never drive again. They said he would never live on his own again. He would probably never speak again, never ride his motorcycle or be able to care for himself. We put him on CBD, and now I have my daddy back,” Chad said behind tear-filled eyes. “I have my daddy back.”
The Local Perspective
Not everyone shares the Wilsons’ sentiments about hemp and its role in American agriculture. Chad has faced ignorance and even discrimination from people around the country. Some of the most obvious opposition and lack of knowledge comes from his own locale, South Central Kentucky.
On Broadway Street, one can find a variety of antique shops, small restaurants and a number of “For Sale” signs. Squatty buildings with chipping paint and once-bright shop signs beckon a number of town locals and some tourists on a good day. Along Broadway, one patio set-up seems to catch the eye.
Magaline’s Antique Mall, with its plastic patio chairs and array of flowers and small trees, sits awaiting customers.
Inside, Magaline Meredith stands behind the counter.
“Hemp!? You mean that marijuana stuff? I’m afraid I don’t know nothing about that, darlin’,” she said.
A clay-like concealer covered her creviced face, and bright eyes shown through the thick black mascara under her polka-dotted hat.
“Come right on in, sugar,” said the old woman with raspy southern drawl. Her attention drifted to a raincoat-clad customer walking in the door.
“What can I do ya for…oh, well hey there honey,” she said, growing louder with the realization that her guest was actually someone she had been expecting. The man began to chat with Magaline’s husband behind her and they quickly engaged in a conversation about a plastic credit card scanner.
“Ya know, we used to use that hemp in the Navy. Made ropes and such,” he said.
“Yeah, and they’re usin’ it to make plastic and lotsa cool things nowadays,” said the man in the raincoat. “Hell, they could probably make this credit card swiper outta hemp.”
“So it doesn’t get you high like real marijuana then?” Magaline asked, her bright eyes now sporting a look of confusion.
“I guess not,” said her husband.
“Well then, I guess I’m fine with them plantin’ it,” Magaline said, and they all went back to their search, leaving the conversation behind without a second glance.
Scenes like the one at Magaline’s are common in the state of Kentucky. While some people do know about hemp’s alternative uses, many still group the plant with its high-in-THC counterpart, marijuana.
In May of 2016, Chad paid a visit to the Warren County Justice Center to help his son get a driver’s license. Once he entered the building, Chad was told that he would have to leave the premises if he did not remove his Green Remedy hat. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the officials said that Chad’s hat “promoted marijuana” and so he would have to remove it before going any further.
Chad, not wanting to cause a scene, removed the hat but was disheartened by the entire event. After having explained himself to the officials and telling them that he was in fact a licensed grower, they still made him take off the hat.
“The only way this industry is gonna grow is if people take down these walls and freely communicate and share ideas,” Chad said. “And right now we’re still not seeing that.”
The Plan of Action
Back on his own farm, Chad and his son, Jordan, patiently await planting day. For now, June 1 is the set date when the first cutting will be placed in the soil. The Wilsons will be experimenting with cloning their plants rather than planting seeds.
“Cloning helps us ensure that the plant has good genes,” said Jordan. “That way it’ll be easier to regulate those THC levels and the quality of the plants we’re farming.”
With the planting of the cuttings quickly approaching, there is still much to be done on the farm- a shop to be furnished and cemented, greenhouses to be readied and careful protection of the plants themselves. Although the weather has been an obstacle in the process, the Wilsons remain hopeful that they will have a fully functioning farm within the next couple of months.
“We have a pretty good outline of what we’re going to do,” said Jordan. “But we don’t want to make anything too strict because things happen. It may rain. We may have some other setback. We just know what our end goal is, and we know we’ll make it happen.”
The Wilsons hope that the entire farm will one day become a place that draws people to Cave City. Chad believes that his farm has the potential to bring life back to the small town with an agritourism approach.
Jordan has planted radishes and carrots while he waits for the day to start planting the hemp cuttings. Another goal for the Wilson family, which Jordan is especially passionate about, is to run a certified Kentucky Organic produce farm. First, they will have to prove to the KDA that the land has been free of pesticides and chemicals for a three-year period.
Both Chad and Jordan are confident that they will receive the certification, as most of the land has not been farmed in years. Except for the back, where there was corn and soybean production, the Wilson family can prove that there have not been any chemicals or sprays on the land for around six to 10 years.
With big plans ahead of them, the Wilsons work daily to ensure that their farm will run smoothly. Chad wakes up almost every morning at 5 a.m. to begin his day making phone calls, doing business and readying the farm.
After the cuttings of hemp are planted in the greenhouse beds, the Wilsons will finally have a hand in all aspects of hemp agricultural production.
“I especially care about keeping [the hemp plants] inside, away from external factors like bugs and bad weather, especially if they will be used medicinally,” Chad said, mentioning the importance of knowing exactly where your hemp products come from.
Chad will get to oversee every part of the process from plant birth to the lab at Green Remedy and then, he hopes, into the lives of people in need.
Once everything is up and running smoothly, the final steps in Chad’s plan include making the farm a training center for anyone who wants to grow hemp. Old farmers who want to try something new. New farmers who have never put one seed in the ground. Anyone with a true desire to grow the plant will be welcome to listen and learn the Hemp Preacher’s lessons.
“My hope is that I can build something that’s a benefit to the farmer and the agricultural economy around Cave City. Then, eventually we can experiment with new crops…see what works and what doesn’t, and then we can train farmers based on that research,” Chad said.
“We’re starting a new page of history for this farm.”
Commonwealth of Kentucky
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Woody Maglinger
Kentucky Surging Forward Following Legislative Session
Op-Ed by Governor Matt Bevin
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 16, 2017) – On the first Saturday in May each year, the Kentucky Derby captures the attention and fascination of the world and creates special moments that will long be remembered. The Derby is truly unmatched as a sporting event and spectacle. A brief hush precedes the opening of the starting gate, followed by the roar of the crowd as the horses explode forward powerfully and majestically. The start to the Derby provides a powerful analogy for what we have experienced recently in our state. Thanks to an outstanding effort by the General Assembly and our administration, Kentucky is surging forward.
The 2017 legislative session was one of the most productive in Kentucky history. Much of our agenda was focused on making Kentucky a better place to do business. It should come as no surprise that the three largest economic development announcements in Kentucky history have occurred since January of this year. Amazon announced their decision to invest $1.5 billion in Northern Kentucky where they will build their Prime Air Hub. Toyota announced a $1.33 billion investment in their Georgetown facility. In April, Braidy Industries revealed their plans to invest $1.3 billion dollars in Greenup County, where they will build a state-of-the-art aluminum mill, creating 550 high-paying jobs. CEO, Craig Bouchard, made it clear during his remarks at the announcement that his company would not have considered locating here if Kentucky had not been a right-to-work state. Braidy, Amazon and others have also been very complimentary of our administration’s passion for recruiting businesses to Kentucky.
Just last week, LINAK U.S. announced a $33 million expansion that will create an additional 413 full-time jobs. That announcement follows companies like UWH, TG Automotive, Traughber, Perfetti van Melle, PuraCap Laboratories, Bulleit Distilling Company and dozens of others which have also recently announced expansions or groundbreakings in our state. These announcements are only the beginning. Like those Derby horses bursting from the gate, Kentucky’s economic expansion is just getting started. Stay tuned. There is more to come.
It is important to note, however, the recent legislative session was about much more than just the economy. For instance, bills were passed that will allow our children in failing schools to have an opportunity to learn in high quality public charter schools and, going forward, we will base higher education funding on school outcomes. Another bill will return more authority to local school boards. These bills, now signed into law, will introduce competition into our education system and will result in better outcomes for all our students. Additionally, we passed a medical review panel bill that will lower medical costs and a bill that will allow funding for apprenticeship programs.
Pro-life laws were created that more accurately reflect the values of our voters. Kentucky is overwhelmingly a pro-life state. Huge bipartisan support for the twenty-week abortion ban and the ultrasound bill reflect that. We also moved Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider, to the back of the line for federal funds.
An important criminal justice law was signed to help the children and families of those who have paid their debt to society. The law allows for work release, work opportunities within prison, and the earning of professional licenses. By helping incarcerated individuals train to get work ready, we reduce recidivism and give children and their parents a chance to be a family again.
We passed legislation to better ensure that our state treats foster children with the respect and dignity they deserve. Kentucky will now allow the courts the leeway to place these children with fictive kin. These are non-blood relatives with whom the child already has a loving relationship and who are willing to provide a home for the child. Likewise, foster kids can now obtain their driver’s license at the age of 16, enabling them to gain independence as they acquire the mobility needed to get to school or to a part-time job.
A new law was passed that will put much needed limits (a three day supply) on the amount of opioid pain medication that can be prescribed at one time. Medical professionals were asked for extensive input as this law was drafted. As a result, there are ample exclusions for physicians who are treating patients with cancer and chronic pain, as well as those on hospice care or who have valid need for additional pain medication.
These are merely a few highlights of all that was accomplished during the 2017 legislative session.
I love the name of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, “Always Dreaming.” That is the American way. From the beginning of our administration, we have repeatedly stated our vision for Kentucky to become the center of excellence in America for engineering and advanced manufacturing and for each of us, individually and collectively, to become the best version of ourselves. The 2017 legislative session has afforded Kentucky the opportunity to get off to a roaring start towards achieving these goals. I am confident that we will succeed, because #WeAreKY.
As ‘a matter of conscience,’ a Kentucky judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents
By Samantha Schmidt May 1 at 4:22 AM
Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”
Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.
The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.
The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.
That ruling came in four cases consolidated as Obergefell et al. v Hodges, one of which specifically involved a couple who wanted to adopt but was barred from doing so because Michigan banned same-sex marriage and adoption by unmarried couples.
Nance’s recusal drew some comparisons to the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed after she refused in the face of multiple court orders to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying she couldn’t issue the licenses because her name was on them, and it violated her religious beliefs. Eventually, deputies in her office began issuing licenses. Kentucky’s governor and General Assembly would later remove the name of clerks from the marriage licenses.
Reached by phone Sunday night, Nance told The Post he stood by his order, “based on the law, based on my conscience,” and to “minimize any disruption in the litigation,” he said. He declined to comment further on the order or calls from the public for him to resign. But he gave no indication that he would be stepping down.
Nance told the Glasgow Daily Times he issued the order so there wouldn’t be a lag if an adoption case was filed in his court concerning adoption by gay parents. Because Nance’s court, the 43rd Circuit Court, has two divisions, the judge of the other division will hear any adoption cases affected by Nance’s recusal. Gay parents seeking to adopt a child in the affected counties should not expect a legal delay as a result of Nance’s decision.
“I don’t have any plans to recuse myself from any so it should not affect the ability of any same sex couples to adopt in Barren or Metcalfe counties,” the judge of the other division, Judge John T. Alexander, told the Glasgow Daily Times.
Charles Geyl, an Indiana University law school professor who specializes in judicial ethics, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that by issuing such an order, Nance could be violating his oath to uphold the law, “which by virtue of the equal protection clause does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation,” he said.
“If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law — not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious — it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath,” Geyl said.
Chris Hartman, Kentucky Fairness Campaign director, told the Glasgow Daily Times Nance’s decision not to hear adoption cases for gay parents is “clear discrimination.”
“And if Judge Nance can’t perform the basic functions of his job, which are to deliver impartiality, fairness and justice to all families in his courtroom, then he shouldn’t be a judge,” Hartman said.
Yet other groups, such as the Family Foundation, a Lexington-based group that promotes “family-first conservatism,” expressed their support of the judge’s decision to recuse himself.
“If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality,” spokesman Martin Cothran said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page, “then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases.”
Cothran added that he was unaware of any state law that would require a judge to place a child in a home with same-sex parents, prompting him to wonder why judges were being held to such a standard.
“When adoption agencies abandon the idea that it is in the best interest of a child to grow up with both a mother and father, people can’t expect judges who do believe that to be forced to bow the knee,” said Cothran. “Judges have a right of conscience like everyone else.”
Lawyers told the Courier-Journal that Nance should now also have to recuse himself from any legal cases involving gay people, including divorces involving a spouse coming out as gay. Nance told the newspaper he understands that gay and lesbian people would have reservations about appearing before him.
Nance, who was first assigned to family court in 2004, performs marriages, but has never been asked to marry a gay couple, he told the Glasgow Daily Times. If he were asked, Nance said he would decline.
He told the Glasgow Daily Times he could recall being assigned to two adoption cases involving gay parents, including one from which he recused himself several years ago. About two to three months ago, Nance was assigned to a case in Metcalfe County involving a same-sex couple seeking to adopt. Nance said he ruled in favor of the parents, but decided then he should take action to recuse himself permanently from hearing such cases.
“It made the matter come to my awareness more directly, I would say,” Nance told the Glasgow Daily Times. “I felt it would be more prudent to go ahead and address it,” he said.
First, please sign and share the petition here: bit.ly/freeamishsam.
Click here for more details and links to all court documents and the indictment.
Feel free to copy and repost on your blog, social media, or print and handout, use as a cover letter for a printed petition (click here to download petition). Since the Amish don’t use the internet, many of them don’t even know about Sam’s situation! Please share the printed petition, get their signatures, then email or mail to me here.
Samuel Girod [G as in Gee: gi-ROD] and his family have been making and selling three all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years.
No one has ever been harmed by the products; the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.
Similar products are currently made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using the same or similar basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.
In 2001, an FDA agent informed Sam that his product labels were making medical claims regarding healing certain conditions. At the time, Sam’s label said, ““[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”
Sam had to change his label, removing the skin cancer claim specifically, or do very expensive testing proving the claims. Sam changed the label, removing any reference to skin cancer.
Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012 when someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Sam’s products and that medical claims were being made.
The “medical claims” were in fact customer testimonials contained in a brochure about Sam’s products! These testimonials are no different than Amazon reviews.
Then the FDA claimed to have found a MO customer who had been harmed by Sam’s bloodroot salve.
In early 2013, during the investigation on that claim, FDA agents went to Sam’s home and demanded a warrantless search. Wanting to be cooperative, Sam said OK on one condition: that no photographs were taken (the Amish are religiously opposed to photography). The agents said no problem, no photos.
Then they got on the property, whipped out their cameras and took photos of everything.
Several months later, the Girods went before a federal judge in MO re the medical claims and the person supposedly injured. Turns out, not only has this customer never been identified or produced, the bloodroot salve this customer used was not even Sam’s!!!
Yet that judge put an injunction on Sam’s products with three stipulations:
- none could be sold until all medical claims were removed (referring to the brochures);
- Sam’s bloodroot salve could never be sold again EVER (1); and
- Sam had to allow inspection of his property where the products were made FOR FIVE YEARS.
Sam complied with 1 and 2: he stopped selling the bloodroot salve and stopped using the brochures. He was not so compliant with the searches.
In late 2013, after the injunction, FDA agents came to do a second search. Sam informed them that nothing had changed since the first search 7 months earlier, and that, since they had lied and taken photos during the first search, they were not welcome to do a second.
Sam had a Bath County Sheriff’s deputy there who witnessed the entire event and told the agents to leave the property.
Unfortunately for Sam, he knows his constitutionally-guaranteed rights and he relied on them to make his next decisions.
These three product sales are how Sam’s family made their living. They had been denied this right via an arbitrary regulation made up by a federal agency with no true jurisdiction in the states — and with NO VICTIM.
So the Girods started selling their products again. Then, in 2014, Sam started a legal private membership club and sold his products to members via that framework. Perfectly legal.
Meanwhile, the FDA started criminal proceedings against Sam for disobeying the injunction (selling his products and refusing the search) plus two other very serious charges:
1. The FDA agents claimed that, when they came for the 2nd search, Sam and his family threatened them with physical violence. That is ludicrous enough on the face of it. Plus, the Sheriff’s deputy testified under oath that absolutely no threats were made, that, essentially, the FDA agents lied under oath.
2. The FDA also charged Sam with witness tampering. The witness who was supposedly tampered with? Read the eyewitness account of Mary Miller’s testimony, link below. (2)
The Trial 2.27.17
The Amish do not use lawyers as a rule and Sam did not. This is a decision made by the community, not just the accused. Apparently the Amish don’t trust lawyers. Imagine that.
Because he barely presented a defense against federal prosecutors for whom money and conscience are not problems, Sam was convicted on all counts. (3)
The judge ordered Sam to remain in jail until sentencing on 6/16/17. He’s been in jail since 2/27/17.
Had Sam had a good attorney, he would certainly have been acquitted on the most egregious counts (threatening federal agents and witness tampering). These charges were clearly manufactured solely to make Sam into a “real” criminal, with the FDA being the only victim.
The only other charges — selling “drugs” across state lines — were manufactured out of whole cloth as well. The FDA’s own tests proved that the products were not drugs, that they were made from all-natural ingredients!!! These charges should have been dismissed from the start.
Sam’s sentencing is 6/16 and he is looking at 68 years in prison. This is essentially a life sentence for charges stemming from an innocent labeling infraction!
Sam should not spend a minute in jail. Please sign and share our petition to President Trump for a presidential pardon: bit.ly/freeamishsam
- How does the FDA get away with determining what constitutes a “medical claim” anyway?
- How are they able to define “drug” so broadly that a topical salve made from all edible ingredients becomes a “drug?”
- Why are Amazon reviews ok but Sam’s customers’ testimonials a basis for criminal charges?
- How is the FDA able to create criminal penalties for violation of arbitrary rules?
- How does this kind of action against an Amish grandfather making salves from all-natural ingredients protect the public, particularly considering that every 19 minutes, someone dies from an FDA-approved pharmaceutical, an actual drug that has been tested and “proven safe”?
- How will Sam’s incarceration for life make the American public any safer?
- Considering that no one was harmed by his products, how has spending millions of dollars on Sam’s prosecution and 16 years of harassment made the world a better place?
There is a better way to handle this. Let us Americans make healing claims on our products with the disclaimer, “These claims have not been scientifically proven. Please use your internet and library to verify claims to your own satisfaction prior to use.”
Sam’s prosecution is a prime example of bureaucracy run amok, enforcement for enforcement’s sake to justify an agency’s existence. There are literally thousands of people in jail (4) for breaking agency regulations fabricated by the agencies! Their rules and regulations are as arbitrary and illegal as they can be, with the result of making us all criminals in our own homes.
Who exactly is being protected here?
(1) In the indictment, bloodroot is repeatedly referred to as “dangerous” with no documentation whatsoever. Bloodroot is from a plant grown in North America, it’s perfectly legal and used by millions of people for centuries for healing purposes. Bloodroot products are sold all over the internet, including on Amazon.
(2) Mary Miller is the 2nd witness called: http://www.kyfreepress.com/2017/03/trial-fda-v-samuel-girod-day-2/
Sally Oh is a native Kentuckian, wife, mother, blogger, homesteader, chickenista, recovering REALTOR® and Functional Medicine Practitioner. A liberty activist and registered voter, that’s her falling down a rabbit hole.
John “Johnny” Boone, the leader of Kentucky’s “Cornbread Mafia,” once the nation’s largest domestic marijuana producing organization, is back in the United States after eight years on the lam.
Boone, who was once featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” was apprehended in Canada in December 2016 and was ordered detained Wednesday after appearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vermont, about 90 miles south of Montreal.
He had been extradited to the U.S. and will be transported to Louisville soon, according to Kraig LaPorte, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Burlington. Wendy McCormick, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville, said it could be a week or two before he is flown to Louisville on a U.S. Marshal Service flight.
Boone, 73, a legendary figure in central Kentucky, faces charges on a 2008 indictment that accused him of growing and distributing marijuana on his farm in Springfield, where more than 2,400 marijuana plants allegedly were found by Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The government is also trying to force him to forfeit cash, vehicles, a handgun and an AR-15 rifle.
He fled after a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he faces up to life in prison if convicted.
►EARLIER COVERAGE: ‘Cornbread Mafia’ fugitive in court
Federal prosecutors in Vermont requested his detention, saying he faces a long prison term and at age 73 has a strong incentive to flee. The motion also noted that he’d lived illegally in Canada for eight years, “which alone renders him a flight risk.”
The Cornbread Mafia, a group of mostly Kentuckians, pooled their money, machinery, knowledge and labor to produce $350 million in pot seized in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin, prosecutors said in 1989.
The organization operated on isolated farms in nine Midwestern states, some of which were guarded by bears and lions, and by workers described by the government as a “paramilitary force.” Boone’s exploits were the subject of a book, “Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code Of Silence And The Biggest Marijuana Bust In American History,” by Kentucky freelance writer James Higdon.
U.S. Attorney Joe Whittle said in 1989 that marijuana had been seized at 29 sites, including 25 farms outside Kentucky. Sixty-four Kentucky residents were charged, 49 of whom lived in Marion County.
The detention motion says Boone’s criminal history extends to 1969 and includes a 1985 conviction for marijuana possession with intention to distribute, for which he was sentenced to five years, and another conviction for unlawful manufacture of 1,000 plants or more, for which he was sentenced to 20 years and paroled in 1999.
Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at (502) 582-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
21 hrs ·
We have a challenge ;
FRIENDS OF JOHNNIE BOONE
What–Johnnie Boone Benefit
Where–Big Mamas,,Loretto Ky,,,
When–April 23,,Sunday,,3-8,,come early
Why–Our friend Johnnie,,has recently been captured,,He will soon [I hope] be transferred to Kentucky,to await trial.,,He will be needing money ,,for,,CANTEEN,,PHONECALLS and,,LEGAL DEFENSE
At the benefit ,,we will be selling CATFISH DINNERS $10 dollars a plate
We will also have an AUCTION [donated gifts]..which can be left with Jimmy Bickett at his home],,contact,,270-692-7920,,,
We will be buying all our food supplies at ”FOODLAND in Loretto ky]..any advance cash donations toward the food,,will be appreciated
If anyone is interested,,in helping that day,,contact me,,or Tessa Bickett..on FB,,,
Now,,all you people that are friends of Johnnie,,We need you to STEP UP TO THE PLATE,,and give,,,,Someone said that “”Johnnie had plenty of money,,,At one time,,he may had,,,But,,he needs YOUR HELP,,,NOW,,,,,
Free Bumper Stickers to everyone..FREE JOHNNIE w PIC,
There will be several people ,selling T-Shirts,,,to benefit Johnnie also,,that day,,,,,
Please make this a SUPER event,,Drink Responsibly and EAT like a HOG,,,
RAIN or SHINE,,CASH ONLY,,,PLEASE SHARE,,,
Above: Arthur Laffer, the former Reagan Administration economist who advised Gov. Sam Brownback on his tax plan, testifies before the Kansas House Tax committee at the statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in Topeka, Kan. Thad Allton AP
Last fall, a group of five wealthy men from out-of-state dumped at least $211,500 into Republican efforts to take over the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time since 1921.
They live from Miami to New York, but have one common bond: Arthur Laffer, a prominent conservative economist who served in the Reagan administration.
They also share a similar goal: reshaping how Kentuckians pay taxes.
“I think now’s a good time for any state like Kentucky to look at their tax structure and say ‘how can we modernize?’” said Travis H. Brown, a Missouri lobbyist who donated $23,000 to GOP House members, more than any other individual.
They picked a winning horse, pumping $105,000 of their money directly to winning candidates and another $59,500 to state GOP committees that gave more than $1.8 million to successful GOP House candidates.
Republicans claimed a super majority in the House and quickly pledged support for Gov. Matt Bevin’s promise to call a special law-making session later this year to transition Kentucky’s tax system from one based on production (income taxes) to one based on consumption (sales taxes).
That economic philosophy was, in many ways, coined by Laffer. His message of lowering income taxes and reducing business taxes has been embraced by scores of Republican politicians across the country.
Though Laffer and his associates may feel the time is right for business-friendly tax reform in Kentucky, there’s a roadblock — massively underfunded pension systems for state workers and teachers.
Last November, financial projections showed Kentucky’s state pension systems had an unfunded liability of $32.5 billion, with the main pension system for state employees only 16 percent funded (anything below 80 percent is considered underfunded). Now, Bevin claims that number is grossly miscalculated, suggesting the state’s real pension debt is closer to $82 billion.
To meet that challenge, Bevin warned in his State of the Commonwealth Address last month that any changes to Kentucky’s tax code will have to raise revenue, not reduce it.
“This is not going to be a revenue neutral tax plan,” Bevin said in the speech. “It’s not. We can’t afford for it to be, that’s a straight up fact. We cannot pay off eight times what we bring in if we simply reshuffle the deck.”
Brown, though, says Kentucky can still raise revenue without raising taxes, arguing that the state can even cut taxes if it’s on the right side of the “Laffer Curve,” an economic concept that says a higher tax rate doesn’t necessarily mean more government revenue.
“What percent of your state government is not efficient as it should be?” Brown asked. “What voters typically believe is they know how to spend their money better than the government knows how to spend their money.”
Regardless of how lawmakers in Frankfort decide to rewrite the tax code, Laffer and his associates clearly thought Kentucky was ripe for an influx of conservative philosophy.
“It just looked like the time and place where it was to come,” Brown said.
Here’s a closer look at the five men, of which only Brown responded to Herald-Leader requests for interviews.
As details about the plan emerged over the past few weeks, Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely defended the rules and the process, saying it included “full public participation.”
But documents obtained by WFPL News show the process was far from public and instead included more than a year of backroom meetings — under both former Gov. Steve Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin — with representatives of the utility industry. During that time, documents show the regulations were significantly revised and weakened.
When regulators began meeting with representatives of the utility industry in September 2015, the regulations they had drafted (left) were extensive. By the time they submitted the drafts to the Legislative Research Commission in October 2016 (right), the regulations were weakened.
Environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, who has spent more than 44 years working in the state, and oftentimes on workgroups with members of industry and regulators to craft regulations, said to his knowledge, such one-sided input from industry is unprecedented in recent years.
“I think it’s unconscionable, and I think it does not reflect well on how little value [the regulators] place on public involvement in the development of regulations that are intended to protect the public,” FitzGerald said.
Representatives from the Energy and Environment Cabinet declined an interview request. In response to emailed questions, spokesman John Mura defended the cabinet’s regulatory process.
“As a part of the pre-KRS 13A deliberative process of regulation development, it is common for the state to informally discuss regulatory matters with the regulated sector that are directly impacted by those regulations,” Mura wrote.
He also pointed to a public comment period and a public hearing held in November 2016. After public comments were received, the agency made minor changes to the rule.
Dangers of Coal Ash
Coal ash — also called “coal combustion residuals,” or CCR — is the byproduct of burning coal for electricity. It’s often stored in dry landfills or wet ponds, or recycled into products like concrete or wall boards.
But it also contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. And environmental advocates say that’s why it’s so important there’s adequate state and federal oversight over coal ash disposal.
“Coal ash is a toxic substance that if handled incorrectly can take human lives, can make people sick, can ruin the environment, lakes, rivers, streams, permanently,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans.
In the past decade, there have been two high-profile instances — in Kingston, Tennesee and Eden, North Carolina — where large-scale coal ash spills have contaminated miles of rivers and land. But there have also been numerous other cases where there have been smaller amounts of pollution, where coal ash has caused air problems or has leached chemicals into groundwater.
Kentucky Division of Waste Management geologist Todd Hendricks mentioned a few of those instances in public comments he made about the cabinet’s proposed coal ash rule:
“Analysis of groundwater and leachate from CCR units in Kentucky has shown elevated levels of heavy metals, sulfate, boron, and other contaminants. One facility is conducting groundwater corrective action for contamination of karst springs with arsenic leaching from an inactive surface impoundment. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated groundwater per day are captured and pumped to the active surface impoundment for dilution and discharge through a permitted outfall. At another facility, state laboratory analysis of one recent sample of fluid (presumably leachate) flowing from the toe of a closed CCR landfill showed 9.81 mg/L of arsenic, which is 981 times the maximum contaminant level (MCL).”
Coal ash wasn’t regulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency until 2015. But with the publication of the first-ever federal coal ash rules in the Federal Register, the EPA set out new standards designed to be incorporated into states’ existing regulatory framework.
And that’s when the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet began working on the state’s version of the regulations.
Emails Show Industry-State Meetings
By its own admission, the Kentucky Division of Waste Management spent more than 1,600 hours working on the regulation in 2015, under former governor Steve Beshear.
On Sept. 3, 2015, regulators sat down with representatives from Kentucky’s utility industry. They screened a PowerPoint presentation on the current draft version of the rules. And on the 12th slide, regulators told the utility representatives that their facilities would no longer be able to qualify for a program called a “permit-by-rule” for coal ash sites. Instead, they would have to stop accepting coal ash into their landfills and ponds by Oct. 19, 2015, or get a permit for disposal.
That wasn’t the last meeting between regulators and industry representatives to discuss the coal ash rules. Emails obtained through an open records request show they met in person at least three more times — in October 2015, and April and June 2016.
State regulators shared drafts of the regulations with Tom Shaw, the environmental director of Big Rivers Electric Corporation, and Jack Bender, the attorney representing the Utility Information Exchange of Kentucky, an industry group. And both men sent regulators UIEK’s comments on the proposals multiple times, months before the agency took comments from the public.
Bender declined a request for additional comment, and Shaw didn’t respond to a voicemail message.
When regulators went into that meeting on Sept. 3, 2015, the draft CCR rules were extensive. They covered groundwater monitoring, inspections, technical specifications for recycling coal ash and plans for closing facilities.
But by the time the draft regulations were released to the public in October 2016, they didn’t contain any of those specifics. And the regulations proposed regulating the electric utilities with a “permit-by-rule” — the very mechanism that the state declared it would not use during that September meeting.
Oversight Steps for Coal Ash Removed
In the proposal released to the public in October, electric utilities wouldn’t have to apply with the state for a permit to build a landfill or pond for coal ash. Instead, the state determined the utilities would have a “permit-by-rule” and could begin constructing coal ash units without prior permitting or review by state regulators.
Right now, utilities building coal ash units need a permit from the Kentucky Division of Waste Management. The process sometimes takes years and involves professional engineers, geologists and environmental technicians. Often permits are also needed from the Kentucky Division of Water.
Under the new proposal, those wouldn’t be necessary.
The state’s approach has been modified somewhat in the final version to a “registered permit-by-rule.” This means utilities will have to register before they begin construction of landfills or ponds, but there will still not be a rigorous permitting process.
“It’s the Wild West, basically,” FitzGerald said. “You get to characterize [the project] on your own, if you do at all, you get to manage it at the location you decide, you get to control the design, the construction, the operation, the closure, the post-closure. And the only time the state is going to become involved is after you screw up. If they find out about it.”
FitzGerald said skipping a rigorous permit review process — where the utility and regulators work together to design the project — could pose myriad problems.
If groundwater monitors aren’t put in the correct locations, they might not detect water pollution. Sensitive ecological or historical sites — like Wentworth Cave on Louisville Gas and Electric’s Trimble County property — could be buried under coal ash forever.
Or, in the most extreme cases, an engineering error could lead to structural flaws in a project and result in a catastrophic coal ash spill.
Cabinet spokesman Mura wrote in an email that the state’s end product is an attempt to comply with the federal rules.
“It was the Obama EPA, after a lengthy regulation development process, that promulgated an industry self-implementing program with no permitting program and with the public/state involvement process done via posting of information on industry website(s),” Mura said.
The EPA’s rules were self-implementing but intended to be incorporated into a state’s existing framework. More recently, Congress approved the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which directs states to work the new federal standards into existing permitting programs.
Legal Challenges Possible
It’s not illegal for regulators to consult with industry representatives before a draft regulation is released for public comment.
Instead, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet routinely seeks input from so-called stakeholders early in the process. But usually that input includes people on different sides of the issue — not just industry representatives but also people from environmental groups, landowners and others with a stake in how the regulations play out,
FitzGerald said that kind of approach — where all sides are engaged early on in the process — ensures that when the regulations are released for public comment, multiple perspectives have been taken into account.
“It is far preferable and I think much more productive and you get a much more responsible work product when you have input from all of the stakeholders,” he said. “And yet in this case, the input came solely from the regulated industry. And the result was a serial weakening of a responsible approach into one that I think is the most irresponsible approach I have seen in my 44 years of working on these issues on behalf of the public.”
Before the rule is finalized, it will need approval from two legislative committees. FitzGerald said if it wins approval, he might consider seeking judicial review.