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.
"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.