Marijuana Activist Gatewood Galbraith Spoke Truth To Power

CANNABIS CULTURE – Gatewood Galbraith is dead. This is a sad day for the legalization movement and those in it dedicated to fighting for the rights of the small guys – the ma and pa growers and dealers – who our community relies on to exist.

Gatewood was not afraid to speak truth to power, be it the powers-that-be or the powerful people in our own community. He kept the rest of the movement honest, as is evident in the following quotes. Maybe that’s why I liked to quote him so often, because he put into words what others were afraid to say.

I first heard of him in a video on industrial hemp, “The 90s” I think it was called. It came out in 1990 or 1991, right before I made the decision to dedicate my life to this cause. Along with greats such as Jack Herer and Chris Conrad, Gatewood Galbraith was inspirational to those of us who became active in the 1990s. Without pioneers such as Gatewood, the movement would not be as big and as strong as it is today. We all owe him a huge debt – the least we can do is read his words and weigh them carefully. And with that, I’ll leave the rest up to Gatewood, speaking from beyond the grave, forever:

My name is Gatewood Galbraith from Kentucky, Kentucky Marijuana Feasibility Study. We stand for legal marijuana. What is needed is a full and lengthy discussion of the flaws of decriminalization stands … When you say it’s going to be next year before you even talk about these things, it is an immediate sacrifice of another 416,000 arrests across the country while you sit around and try to get some sort of a statement together. Decriminalization doesn’t discuss the back issues of smuggling, adulterated products, consumer rip-offs that happen every day pot smokers. It doesn’t talk about the basic civil liberties that marijuana is used as an instrument upon. Decriminalization doesn’t deal with selective enforcement by police officials; allows the trampling of constitutional rights; allows the people to spend time in jail over their relationship with a plant. … The Single Convention Treaty could easily be nullified. There is no reason to stand for this. Every country that has signed that has broken the rule, and it’s legal tradition that when treaties are broken, people can resign the treaty. The Single Convention is not the end-all argument for decriminalization. Decriminalization has shortcomings in every way. It doesn’t address the basic issues. The longer NORML stands on it, the longer it’s going to take to educate the public about what the basic issues are going to be, and are right now. And NORML’s not doing a damn thing. We don’t hear about them in the South. What the hell are they doing with $4,000,000 operating budget, sitting around throwing nice beautiful conventions in great hotels, when people are going to jail every day for marijuana and NORML can do something about it, and they’re not?”
-Gatewood Galbraith, “1977 NORML Formal – Does Decrim Really Work?”, Blacklisted News, pp. 278-279 Read more.

From "Lexington, Ky. attorney Gatewood Galbraith stood next to a historic marker in Jessamine County, July 17, 1990, that tells the story of Kentucky's early cash crop. Kentucky, the largest prodcer or hemp from 1840 to 1860, could once again start the production of this crop if Galbraith is elected governor in 1991. AP Photo by Tim Sharp."From “Lexington, Ky. attorney Gatewood Galbraith stood next to a historic marker in Jessamine County, July 17, 1990, that tells the story of Kentucky’s early cash crop. Kentucky, the largest prodcer or hemp from 1840 to 1860, could once again start the production of this crop if Galbraith is elected governor in 1991. AP Photo by Tim Sharp.”Quietly and without much fanfare, while Nancy Reagan paraded the kids around in their “Just Say No” t-shirts, the local marijuana grower had replaced the international cannabis smuggler as the main source of supply, and cannabis activists everywhere were responding by appealing to the interests of these farmers. Down in Kentucky, Gatewood Galbraith became the voice for the Kentucky pot grower:

I would seek to implement this plan whereby we allot our farmers a certain poundage to grow each year. The farmer cannot sell to anyone else. He can only sell it to the state. The state would be the middleman. The state has a legitimate interest in taxing and controlling this substance. The state would then package it, grade it for potency, and turn around and sell it wholesale to licensed retail dealers around the state – the people who are dealing now for a living. The object is to spread the wealth as much as possible. We don’t want the oil, tobacco, and liquor companies, or the pharmaceutical industry gaining control of this market. It’s extremely important that it be kept in the hands of the people who have put it together over these last twenty years.” [23]
– Gatewood Galbraith, High Times, March 1990, p. 14

According to Galbraith, licensing and taxing growers and dealers did not necessarily have to involve 1) corporate monopolies, 2) caps on the number of outlets or 3) excluding those currently growing and dealing cannabis from the legal market.

Read more.

Remember, there is a ‘THEY’ and ‘THEY’ ARE out to get you. ‘THEY’ are the petrochemical pharmaceutical military-industrial trans-national fascist corporate elite son-of-a-bitches. … and ‘THEY’ look at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as impediments to the implementation of their “New World Order” … the war against marijuana … the war against this natural plant is their attempt to keep the farmers, the people … and folks like you and me out of power ….”
– Gatewood Galbraith, “High Society” interview with David Malmo-Levine, Pot TV, 26 Oct. 2001 (see interview below)

Read more.

Congress enacted the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust act in opposition to America’s economy being hijacked by a small group of capitalists and it was used to break up the larger trusts, including Standard Oil of New York in 1892. Otherwise, Mr. John D. Rockefeller would have ended up owning everything. America’s economy fluctuated wildly throughout the 1920s and 30s and the Depression took a lot of steam out of America’s boast that a free-market was a Divine Mandate. Talk began in earnest among the big players on a plan to enact a controlled economy in the United States and it was to be sure that they were the ones in control. The institution of a formally recognizable controlled economy in the United States came in the form of what is known as Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. Until this time, there was a Constitutional separation between business and government that resembled that of the wall between Church and State. Government could not/should not favor one corporation or business over another and, ideally, all government work should be competitively bid. Further, government lacked the authority to regulate the actions of the corporations. But the New Deal changed all of that and there were three major motives that dictated its implementation, its forms and its functions. These included the necessity of responding to the Depression, preparing for World War II and a desire to usurp America’s agrarian economy, commandeer it’s natural products and replace them with synthetically-derived products from a factory economy. The Synthetic Subversion.

These plans were not discussed with the population in general nor put to a popular vote. It was believed, correctly I assume, that consumer preference could be swayed by advertising campaigns. But I wonder if that is what the Chairman of the E.I. Dupont Denemours and Company meant in his 1937 shareholder’s report when, after discussing his company’s extensive investment in synthetic processes, and of of its new product discoveries, nylon, he wrote that the ability to realize a profit from these investments was directly related to how “the revenue-raising power of government may be converted into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.” If there ever was a smoking gun as evidence of the demise of the United States as a Free Market economy, and as a free country, this statement is it.”
– Gatewood Galbraith, “The Last Free Man In America: Meets The Synthetic Subversion – The Autobiography of Gatewood Galbraith”, 2004, Mark Perkins Press, pp. 19-20

Gatewood Galbraith on Pot TV’s High Society on Oct 26, 2001:

Read more about Gatewood and his passing.

David Malmo-Levine has been a cannabis activist since 1992 and is a longtime contributor to Cannabis Culture. He publishes his own cannabis magazine Potshot, runs the Herb Museum in Vancouver, and produces the show “High Society” on Read his CC Blog.



  1. Paul Stanford on

    I am missing him. Rest in peace brother Gatewood.

  2. Charles Queen on

    It’s quite ironic actually.I live in KY,moved here from MI back in 1991.This states number one crop for decadea has been and still is marijuana yet there is only one small NORML branch in the entire state and it’s located in Richmond KY.I would have thought there would be more than that in this state.I have been fighting and pushing to get people involved in legalising medicinal marijuana.Personaly I look to actually see it happen this year for numerous reasons