Interview with Pat Dunegan of the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition
Change Can Come From unlikely beginnings and sometimes change takes patience and planning until that one moment can happen; the moment that causes change to everything – either by example, inspiration, or determination. Something turns different and the gates can never be closed.
On January 18th we had one of those moments in Louisville when Pat Dunegan, an unlikely advocate for medical cannabis, a cause thrust on him by love and hardship, stood before the Louisville Metro Council and presented a resolution for the legalization of medical cannabis. And it worked. From then on, other city councils have passed similar resolutions; thus creating an up swell of support from the people of Kentucky.
The strategy was simple. Nothing was working at the top levels of government so the KCFC focused their activities on getting resolutions passed on local city levels to get the attention of lawmakers in Frankfort.
I spoke with Pat Dunegan about the recent progress made and how one person at the right time can push a moment forward.
Pat describes himself as an activist for his wife and disabled citizens of Kentucky. “They have to have a voice to be heard,” he says. When asked if he hopes people don’t have to go through what his wife has to understand the hardship and need for options, he states that he was a 9 to 5 worker before his wife’s condition worsened. “The reason I started advocating was for my wife. Her neurologist said that she needed to have medical cannabis to manage her condition.”
Pat in turn founded the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) in September 2014 in hopes of lobbying the state legislation and raising awareness of medical cannabis. After three years of mostly inaction from lawmakers, the KCFC changed their tactics and began a campaign to lobby city councils to pass resolution in favor of medical cannabis.
I asked him how he got the Louisville Metro Council to hear his resolution. He laughs then replies, “I simply called and requested to speak on medical cannabis. They gave me 3 minutes to talk, but then I got the backing of the Secretary of State, Alison Grimes. It sparked a wave of activists stepping up and going to their city councils.” He also talks about what he learned about the legal process, “You have to be respectful to each legislator, show them the facts, and show them the amount of support they have to change these laws.”
He also supports Senate Bill 80, which is focused on the recreational use of cannabis in Kentucky because it can help with many issues related to health, social justice, and economic responsibility.
With his strategy working, Pat plans to focus on medical cannabis legislation as he believes that is an attainable goal in the near future and he plans to push hard to get a responsible cannabis bill passed. And I believe if medical cannabis becomes legal in Kentucky soon, it will have a lot to do with one man’s will to stick up for his ailing wife and pursue what he knows is right.