The son of Gary Shepherd continues the fight

March 3, 2014
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One of the sad stories on my Drug War Victims page is about Gary Shepherd, a Vietnam veteran who had grown marijuana plants, and during a standoff with police, was shot to death in front of his infant son.

That son, Jacob, is now grown up — he’s a student at the University of Kentucky, and has been an activist in the fight against prohibition.

A fight for marijuana legalization, growing for 20 years

Shepherd is starting a student organization, Cats for Cannabis, having enlisted about 25 potential members and started applying for official status. A strong anti-prohibition group on a campus of nearly 30,000 students could make a big difference, he said.

At the least, he said, it’s a step toward legalizing a drug with a negative stigma — a stigma that has ravished individuals and families across the country.

“We can’t be afraid of it and let our fears justify me having to see my dad die,” he said.

It’s an incredibly powerful and well-written article by Becca Clemons at the Kentucky Kernel, that goes back to details of the original standoff, and brings their impact home today…

Shepherd and his mother still live in the trailer in Rockcastle County, and Shepherd makes the hourlong commute to UK. Bullet holes from the shooting still pepper the side of the trailer. One made it through the side of the home and into the kitchen counter.

Inside, the neatly kept living room hosts a subtle shrine to pot activism. The homages to cannabis culture include a nondescript bookshelf with literature on marijuana, hemp sacks with pro-marijuana slogans decorating the walls, and other pot-related knickknacks tucked into nooks and crannies. [...]

Years after the shooting and ensuing lawsuits, Jones’ outreach remained stagnant. But in the past few years Shepherd took up activism himself, a personal fight to assure that “no kid has to go through the shit I did.” [...]

“I was 4 at that time and I was really just trying to understand it,” Shepherd said. “Like, this is a war zone.”

So much blood covered his small body that he thought he was shot.

“I remember looking at my arms, looking for the wound,” he said.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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