This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Cannabis Legalization From Bloodshed to Regrowth

Video by Eli Obus | WATCH: More personal finance videos on TheStreet TV | More videos from Ross Kenneth Urken

MT. VERNON, KY. (MainStreet) Mary Jane Jones, 62, and her son Jacob Shepherd, 24, have become cannabis evangelists since the herb led their family to tragedy 20 years ago. Gary Shepherd, Jones's boyfriend and Jacob's father, was shot dead by the Kentucky State Police after a seven-hour stand-off over marijuana plants he was growing in the backyard.

Earlier this month, mother and son attended a pro-hemp event put on by Growing Warriors, an agricultural organization for veterans a cause that hits close to home.

Gary Shepherd had been a Vietnam war veteran with a Purple Heart, who felt it was his right to indulge in recreational marijuana, especially given that her first got high as an 18-year-old soldier in Vietnam.

"It helped him to be able to stay there in that war," Jones said. "He knew then that 'reefer madness' has all been a lie."

Shepherd was killed with his hands in the air. His autopsy showed bullet holes under each armpit. Jones filed a wrongful death lawsuit that she ultimately lost in court.

Also See: Hemp in Kentucky Creates Latest Drug War Battleground

"It felt like we was in a war zone that day," Jones said. "Well, Jacob was not able to talk after he saw his daddy killed. And he has to be in speech for 13 years of his life to be able to even speak."

Given that Jones and Shepherd have used this low point as an impetus to fight for cannabis legalization in Kentucky and beyond, they were especially passionate at the hemp event.

"Well, now 20 years later, we're in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky fixin' to put some hemp seed in the ground, the same seed that my man was killed over," Jones said.

Grassroots Regrowth

Jones and Shepherd are seeing seeing rising momentum for their cause, with recreational legalization for marijuana in Colorado and Washington, as well as the hemp provision of the Farm Bill, which Congress passed in February.

"The President came out and said [marijuana] is not more dangerous than alcohol, so why are we preventing ourselves from benefiting economically, nutritiously, everything because we're a little afraid of the 'M' word?" Shepherd said.

Marijuana is the cannabis cousin to industrial hemp, which has only trace amounts of the psychoactive THC, and though Kentucky at the moment is concerned with the manufacturing applications of industrial hemp as well as the medicinal ones, Shepherd is focused on the economic benefit in the county.

"I know cannabis can restore a lot that we've lost and give our communities a lot of benefit," he said.

Ganja-preneurial Spirit

Both Shepherd and his mother attended Oaksterdam University, a cannabis educational facility in Oakland. After graduating valedictorian in November 2011, Shepherd worked with two pro-cannabis organizations, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in Arizona. He helped his cousin run the "Cannabus," driving through 20 states to promote the benefits of cannabis.

Currently studying agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky, Shepherd wants to be a cannabis breeder, including integrations of industrial hemp strains. Jones is also interested in continuing her marijuana activism, because after working for 16 years as a beautician after her boyfriend's death, she has been unable to work for the past five years since another catastrophe struck the family: Scarlett, one of her two children from a marriage before her relationship with Gary Shepherd, died in a car accident.

It was three days after Christmas, 2008.

"So mostly for five years, here's what I've been doing: praying and crying, because I'm a mother and my daughter's gone," Jones said. "We've had a long-haul--poor still live in the same trailer we lived in when [Gary Shepherd] got killed, and it's got five bullet holes in it."

Part of treating the pain they've endured hinges on the healing power of cannabis, from an economic and medicinal perspective.

"So there's just memories there on that farm, not good memories," Jones said. "Look at the beautiful property and say, 'Wow, hemp could be blowin in the wind.' And it's all about making legal the seed that he gave his life for."

Jones is a born again Christian, who believes in the cathartic properties of this crop.

"According to my religion, cannabis is my sacrament to Jesus Christ given to me by Jesus Christ," she said. "So you know, I think it's all good with the hemp plant. And I hope it gets set free. And I hope I get set free at the same time...Free the weed, free the seed, let it grow, there you go."

--Written by Ross Kenneth Urken for MainStreet

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.74 -1.15%
FB $117.58 0.73%
GOOG $693.01 0.29%
TSLA $240.76 -2.81%
YHOO $36.60 0.03%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs