Hemp is ‘the next big thing’ in pain management as growth and research expand in Ky.

By Beth Warren Louisville Courier Journal

To some it seems taboo. But a nationally renowned pain doctor says a four-letter word can ease aches and anxiety without the risk of addiction: H-E-M-P.

“It’s gonna be the next big thing,” said Dr. James Patrick Murphy, a former president of the Greater Louisville Medical Society who treats patients in Kentucky and Indiana.

Hemp won’t alleviate acute pain, Murphy said, but it can lessen more moderate pain — allowing some patients to reduce or stop taking addictive pain pills that fuel the heroin and opioid epidemic.

With Louisville losing an average of one person a day to drug overdoses, doctors and patients are scrambling to find safer ways to treat pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved hemp products for use as medicine, and clinical trials on cannabinoids or CBD oil — extracted from the hemp flower —are pending. But Murphy and other doctors seethe oil as a promising option, and many people who are trying it for themselves say it works.

“People are coming in using this stuff,” Murphy said. “We have to learn about it.”

CBD oil has been credited with significantly reducing the severity of violent and potentially deadly epileptic seizures — especially in children.And hemp seeds are considered a “superfood,” rich in omegas and protein.

Yet the hemp plant is often confused and dismissed as a forbidden relative of marijuana.

“Cheers” actor Woody Harrelson grabbed national attention in June 1996 by planting four hemp seeds in Eastern Kentucky on a Lee County farm. His arrest was a stunt to highlight the difference between pot and hemp.

Both are the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. And they have the same pointy leafs and pungent scent. But hemp has a breadth of uses and a negligible amount of the mind-altering ingredient THC.

“Cars can run on hemp oil,” the actor wrote in a letter published in Courier Journal after his arrest. “Environmentally friendly detergents, plastics, paints, varnishes, cosmetics and textiles are already being made from it” in Europe.

Still, U.S. lawmakers would take nearly two decades longer to embrace it.

A federal law many dub the “2014 Farm Bill” cleared a path for its comeback.

Now Kentucky is among the nation’s top producers, trailing Colorado.

Brian Furnish, an eighth-generation tobacco farmer, was among the first in decades to legally plant hemp seeds in Kentucky soil. He grows and promotes hemp as an executive with Ananda Hemp, one of the commonwealth’s largest growers.

Furnish is not only a grower, he’s a consumer. He says a few drops of CBD oil ease his neck and back pain due to old football injuries and heavy lifting of feed sacks and other strenuous chores.

Now, he doesn’t work the farm without it.

‘I feel great’

Murphy is among the doctors who first learned about the potential benefits of hemp from their patients.

Curious, he did some research, reading about CBD oil and even testing it on himself for four days. Although he didn’t need it for pain, he verified it didn’t give him a buzz or any negative side effects.

He decided to recommend it to 200 patients.

About 90 percent of the 175 who tried CBD oil spray or pills reported benefits, such as fewer migraines and tension headaches and more tolerable leg and back pain and arthritis, he said. Others had more restful sleep and less anxiety.

But it’s not for everyone.

Murphy doesn’t recommend it to patients who are taking blood thinners or who have heart conditions.

And a small number of his patients opted to stop taking hemp after becoming dizzy. Others didn’t notice any relief from migraines or enough relief from severe pain.

Those who opted not to try hemp included an elderly patient whose husband wouldn’t let her try anything related to marijuana.

Dr. Bruce Nicholson, a Pennsylvania pain expert, also recommends hemp to many of his patients.

Dozens have reduced or stopped taking opioids, he said. Patients reported less trembling from neuropathy and relief from achy muscles. The doctor personally uses hemp several times a week, rubbing a cream on his achy joints.

“In the medical profession, we knew nothing about it,” said Nicholson, who began reading up on it about three years ago.

Nicholson estimates that as many as 80 percent of his patients suffering from chronic pain also face anxiety or depression. He said hemp can help that too.

“Now I recommend it every day to my patients,” he said.

Ready to try hemp? From beer to bedding, hemp products are easily found at some stores that may surprise you

Lisa Whitaker, 50, one of Murphy’s patients on disability for migraines and herniated discs, said CBD oil didn’t ease her severe headaches but did help her back pain.

It took four to six weeks before she noticed significant relief.

“This has been a lifesaver,” Whitaker said.

Southern Indiana resident Valerie Reed, 36, said she began a daily regimen of the oil about a year ago after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She didn’t want to take the narcotic her doctor prescribed because of a host of potentially “scary” side effects.

Within months, she said: “The tremors, shaking, that’s gone.”

Severe headaches on her right side also eased and she could bear hip pain from walking.

Reed said she told her neurologist and her general practitioner she was using the hemp product daily. “Both were OK with it.”

“As long as I take it, I feel great,” she said.

Riley Cote, a Canadian native known as a bruiser on the ice during his tenure with the National Hockey League, said hemp eases his arthritis and inflammation and helps him relax and fall into a deeper sleep. He has become a hemp activist, starting the Hemp Heals Foundation and encouraging former Philadelphia Flyer teammates and other athletes to use the oil instead of opioids, sleeping pills and muscle relaxers.

Cote came to Kentucky recently to tour Ananda Hemp’s farm in Harrison County, northeast of Lexington. The company imported hemp seeds from Australia and has expanded its crops to cover 500 acres in Kentucky with plans to keep growing.

“It’s just gonna get bigger and better,” the retired hockey star said of the hemp industry. “We’ve barely scratched the surface.”

Where’s the proof?

It’s easy to find someone who claims using hemp oil with CBD helped them feel better or sleep better.

But doctors, scientists and others — including the FDA — are eager for clinical proof.

Some promising research came out in May.

An article published in the May 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, reported the results of an extensive clinical trial led by Dr. Orrin Devinsky and colleagues. It found that CBD hemp oil lessened the frequency of violent and dangerous seizures in children and young adults with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder with a high rate of death.

Barry Lambert, an investor in Ananda Hemp’s parent company, Ecofibre, who grew up on a dairy farm in the Australia Bush, wrote a testimonial on how CBD oil saved his granddaughter’s life from debilitating seizures that “tore away at her brain and body every 15 seconds.”

Can you get high off hemp? We’ll help clear the fog about marijuana’s ‘kissing cousin’

Research on other potential health benefits is underway across the nation.

Kentucky is leading the way with 17 studies at seven universities: the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Sullivan University, Western Kentucky, Murray State, Morehead and Kentucky State, said Brent Burchett, head of the state Department of Agriculture’s division of value-added plant production.

University of Louisville’s research includes evaluating hemp as a fuel source.

The University of Kentucky is examining the best growing conditions of hemp and plans to study the oil in mice for two years. If they find negative side effects, it could lead the FDA to pull projects from shelves, said Joe Chappell, a professor of drug design and discovery.

If they don’t find problems, he said it could help clear the way for its mainstream use.

“There’s a lot of anecdotal information, of course. There can be some relief from pain and inflammation,” he said.

Chappell hopes to lead testing to answer these questions: “Who is it safe for? For what duration? At what doses?”

Researchers are in the early stages of verifying hemp’s full potential.

It’s too soon to know the full scope of how much money the leafy crop can bring farmers, processors and businesses — or how many ways it can benefit pain sufferers.

‘Questions and curiosity’

Consider it the new era of hemp.

Furnish describes his farming family as “very old style, conservative people” initially leery of hemp.

But after deciphering fact from fiction surrounding the controversial crop, he has taken a leadership role in the hemp movement.

“Hemp will keep another eight generations of farmers working the land,” he said.

Individual states can now pass laws allowing industrial hemp to be grown under a pilot program. The state was among the first to give the go-ahead in 2014, but farmers and processors must gain approval from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Seventy-four of the state’s 120 counties are growing and/or processing the diverse plant, according to the agriculture department’s most current figures. That includes Jefferson County, which has 10 growers or processors.

Hemp has been used in more than 25,000 products, from foods, supplements, textiles, paper to building materials and cosmetics, according to a March report by the Congressional Research Service. It’s even a fiberglass alternative for cars and planes.

Hemp sales in the United States are at nearly $600 million annually, according to the report.

“I don’t know of another crop that has that many uses — well more than corn, soy or cotton,” said Duane Sinning, manager of Colorado’s industrial hemp program.

“The interest is higher” today in growing hemp and using its products, he said. “I think it’ll continue to grow.”

Many predict the variety of hemp products and use across the state and nation will continue to increase if studies back up the many anecdotal claims of health benefits.

That could push Congress to ease or remove federal restrictions.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said he’s working with lawmakers to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances.

“We owe it to farmers to explore all aspects of industrial hemp,” he said, “just like soybeans in the 1960s when they were an experimental crop.”

Wellness experts at Rainbow Blossom Kentuckiana markets are doing their part to promote hemp products. They co-hosted “hemp week” in June, fielding questions from customers.

Summer Auerbach, the natural food stores’ second-generation owner, said “people are coming in with a lot of questions and curiosity” about hemp.

She’s a customer herself, rubbing a hemp salve on her shoulders, neck and jaw before bed. She said the CBD oil in the balm lessens tightness and aches from temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, and she awakens with fewer headaches.

“It’s exciting to see so much of the innovation of hemp in Kentucky,”

she said. “We’re not even close to seeing what it can do.”

CONTINUE READING…

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Burying our heads in the weeds

LEO Weekly

By Aaron Yarmuth

We have a weed crisis in this country.

Weed needs to be legalized as soon as possible. Nationally, sure. But in Kentucky, a poor state with a pension crisis, there should be no hesitation in mining this (green) gold rush.

For the first time, real data proves that the weed industry is an emerging economic boon, and its social impacts are not what detractors would like you to believe.

A recent Washington Post article — real news — revealed the overwhelmingly positive economic impact the marijuana industry has had in Colorado, where weed was legalized and began selling commercially Jan. 1, 2014. According to the state-commissioned study by the Marijuana Policy Group, the industry generated $2.4 billion in economic activity in 2015, including the creation of 18,000 new, full-time jobs.

To be clear, this does not mean that Coloradans and weed-seeking tourists spent $2.4 billion of their money on weed.

That figure is the amalgamation of sales, increased demand for local goods and services, warehouse and commercial space and farming/growing equipment, as well as professional services, such as lawyers and accountants. In fact, the retail sale of pot in 2015 was reportedly close to $1 billion.

Legalization opponents like to demonize users as degenerate addicts wasting their rent money on marijuana. But the other significant finding was that “the legal marijuana industry is not coming from new, previously untapped demand for cannabis, but rather from a reduction of the unregulated black market.”

This is a tremendously important point because it disproves opponents who argue that America will become one big stoner state if they could get high legally.

Anecdotally, I’ve always known this to be true. I have friends who smoke, or have smoked in the past — or baked a weed treat. They vary in every way possible: age, race, sex, religion and political party affiliation.

My friends who don’t smoke aren’t potheads in waiting, either… It’s not that pot is illegal that deters them from getting high. In fact, they could smoke now if they wanted to — so could I, and so could you.

But I have no interest in smoking weed because I don’t like it. Tried it, didn’t care for it, and decided it’s not for me. But there’s no question I could get it anytime — a phone call away. And that’s the lie about marijuana — people who want it, get it, and people who don’t… don’t.

A Gallup Poll from a few weeks ago showed that 64 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana — a record high (no pun intended). It’s bipartisan, too: 72 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans now favor legalization.

The minority of Americans who remain opposed to this need to understand that this is going on, whether it’s legal or not. The moral objection, as with alcohol and other perceived vices, is perfectly understandable. However, to argue against the medical, economic and social benefits is just plain wrong.

Further, it would be an entirely different debate if the underground weed economy didn’t already exist. As this study showed, in Colorado close to $1 billion has made its way out of the shadows, off the street corners and into the economy. The idea that it can be stopped is plain wrong, and to think otherwise at this point is willful ignorance.

Kentucky needs to unearth an economic gold mine now more than ever. At risk are the promised retirements of hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public employees. Their pensions are in peril. The future of our schools is in jeopardy, because if we can’t fulfill the promise to the last generation of teachers, how will we attract the next generation?

Opponents of weed have a choice: Bring the black-market for marijuana into the system, tax it, regulate it and save teachers’ pensions — resetting the economic trajectory of Kentucky…

Or, bury your head in the weeds.

CONTINUE READING…

(KY) GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR GET SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA!

BECAUSE THIS STORY IS SO IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY I HAVE INCLUDED TWO SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS AIRED ON WLKY.

THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED TODAY, JUNE 14TH, 2017, IN JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY AGAINST GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR BY DANNY BELCHER OF BATH COUNTY, AMY STALKER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, AND DAN SEUM JR OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.

ky mj lawsuit

ABOVE:  LINK TO PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON WLKY

FACEBOOK – WLKY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH COMMENTS

Mark Vanderhoff Reporter

FRANKFORT, Ky. —

Three people are suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over Kentucky’s marijuana laws, claiming their rights are being violated by not being able to use or possess medicinal marijuana.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court, was filed on behalf of Danny Belcher of Bath County, Amy Stalker of Louisville and Dan Seum Jr., son of state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale.

Seum turned to marijuana after being prescribed opioid painkillers to manage back pain.

“I don’t want to go through what I went through coming off that Oxycontin and I can’t function on it,” he said. “If I consume cannabis, I can at least function and have a little quality of life.”

The plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Seum does not believe the state can legally justify outlawing medical marijuana while at the same time allowing doctors to prescribe powerful and highly addictive opioids, which have created a statewide and national epidemic of abuse.

That legal justification lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ legal challenge, which claims Kentucky is violating its own constitution.

The lawsuit claims the prohibition violates section two of the Kentucky Constitution, which denies “arbitrary power,” and claims the courts have interpreted that to mean a law can’t be unreasonable.

“It’s difficult to make a comparison between medical cannabis and opioids that are routine prescribed to people all over the commonwealth, all over the country, and say that there’s some sort of rational basis for the prohibition on cannabis as medicine when we know how well it works,” said Dan Canon, who along with attorney Candace Curtis is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also claims Kentucky’s law violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy, also guaranteed under the state constitution.

Spokespeople for Gov. Bevin and Beshear say their offices are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit.

In a February interview on NewsRadio 840 WHAS, Bevin said the following in response to a question about whether he supports medical marijuana:

“The devil’s in the details. I am not opposed to the idea medical marijuana, if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. Again, it’s a function of its making its way to me. I don’t do that executively. It would have to be a bill.”  CONTINUE READING…

Lawsuit challenges Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban

By Bruce Schreiner | AP June 14 at 6:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s criminal ban against medical marijuana was challenged Wednesday in a lawsuit touting cannabis as a viable alternative to ease addiction woes from opioid painkillers.

The plaintiffs have used medical marijuana to ease health problems, the suit said. The three plaintiffs include Dan Seum Jr., the son of a longtime Republican state senator.

Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother.

“She comes back to her home state and she’s treated as a criminal for this same conduct,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Canon. “That’s absurd, it’s irrational and it’s unconstitutional.”

Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: “I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I’m able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard.” CONTINUE READING…

More than 100,000 young men from across the United States trained at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville before being shipped overseas to fight in the Great War

Image result for Camp Zachary Taylor Louisville Ky


Lawmakers hear plans for state’s WWI centennial observances

FRANKFORT – More than 100,000 young men from across the United States trained at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville before being shipped overseas to fight in the Great War.

To highlight Kentucky’s contribution World War I, a life-replica of one of the camp’s barracks will be on display at the upcoming Kentucky State Fair, said Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Director Heather French Henry while testifying before yesterday’s meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Projection. The replica will be part of an exhibit covering nearly a quarter acre that will also include a trench made of 480 sandbags, donated by Fort Knox, containing 20 tons of sand.

“There are over 600,000 folks that travel through the state fair,” said French Henry, a member of the Kentucky World War I Centennial Committee. “It is the most excellent way to get the word and message out to the most diverse population that enters into any realm in the state.”

The United States officially entered WWI on April 6, 1917. Seven months later, the sprawling Camp Zachary Taylor training facility opened. It was the largest of 16 camps that dotted the United States and contained more than 2,000 buildings that housed more than 40,000 troops.

“We had a profound effect on the servicemen that were going overseas and really contributed to the great Allied victory of World War I,” French Henry said.

The camp was auctioned off as 1,500 different parcels of land in 1921 and became the Camp Taylor neighborhood. Many of the parcels were bought by the soldiers returning to the area after completing their term of service.

“World War I is largely a forgotten war,” French Henry said. “It’s been over 100 years. We have no living World War I veterans.”

Kentucky’s last WWI veteran was Robley Henry Rex of Louisville.

“Even in his elderly years, he still had a great mind, could recognize faces,” French Henry said of Rex. “And he hugged about as tight as anyone else I have ever hugged in my life. He was a wonderful representative for us. But sadly, sometimes that history … goes by the wayside when they are not among us.”

Rex died four days before his 108th birthday, in April 2009, at the veterans hospital in Louisville, later renamed the Robley Rex V.A. Medical Center.

Kentucky had more than 2,000 casualties during WWI, and French Henry’s department has a casualty list by county.

“It happens that almost every county – all 120 – contributed their sons and daughters to the efforts of the United States in the Great War,” French Henry said. “Even if it is 100 years later, it is never too late to remember someone’s sacrifice and service.”

Committee Co-chair Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, said he was impressed that French Henry could organize such an exhibition since no state money was budgeted for it.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am,” Moore said of the fair exhibit and other events planned for the centennial. “We expected something to come together, but not the incredible plethora of activities and educational opportunities you have outlined for us today.

In other news, French Henry announced that the Radcliff Veterans Center, a 120-bed skilled nursing facility, has now started accepting its first residents. Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, said there is a pent-up demand for such a facility in the region.

“I’m starting now to get phone calls all the time,” he said in reference to inquiries from veterans wanting to move there.

French Henry said a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center is set for July 21.

— END –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Zachary_Taylor

http://camptaylorhistorical.org/

https://www.google.com/search?q=Camp+Zachary+Taylor+Louisville+Ky&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjfiaKZzbHUAhXFLSYKHSY2CSgQ_AUIBygC&biw=1366&bih=559#imgrc=k5JFnvxEge2qpM:

Union calls for no-confidence vote on Louisville jail chief

(backdating the news…this is a month old – but important!)

Image result for louisville kentucky jail

Phillip M. Bailey , @phillipmbailey Published 10:52 p.m. ET April 25, 2017

Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton emphasized working with corrections staff to improve conditions at jail facilities on Wednesday afternoon, a day after rank-and-file officers moved to hold a no-confidence vote on Bolton’s leadership.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Fischer, said the “mayor appreciates the union’s input. Now, let’s move on to doing the difficult work at Metro Corrections and working to improve every day.”

But in a statement to the Courier-Journal late Tuesday after the correction workers’ union voted to pursue the no-confidence vote, union President Tracy Dotson said Bolton is “misrepresenting the dangerous overcrowding issue at the jail” to city officials and the media.

Dotson, whose union includes more than 500 sworn officers, said their issues with Bolton “are ridiculously many,” including workplace security, health and safety.

Bolton spokesman Steve Durham said the corrections department has seen unprecedented growth of the inmate population, due in large part to a logjam of prisoners awaiting transfer to state facilities. In February,  for instance, jail officials said the population across the department’s three facilities topped 2,300 despite a designed capacity of 1,793 beds.

“The Metro Corrections jail facilities do not control who is admitted or released,” Durham said. “We will continue to work with our criminal justice partners both locally and at state levels to develop solutions that promote and enhance public safety and ensure a quality work environment for our staff.”

Dotson reiterated officers’ previous complaints, including cameras and intercoms in key areas that do not work; a refusal to meet with FOP leadership on employee issues; failure to fill job vacancies; disintegration of sworn staff training; and alleged retaliation and harassment of FOP members and leadership for participating in union activity.

Dotson said the vote on Bolton will take place in a couple of weeks.

Bolton’s leadership has been under increasing scrutiny, including a pending audit of the jail’s overcrowding issues and taxpayer costs, and the vote will be the second regarding a top public safety official in the city in recent months. In December, less than 2 percent of police FOP members said in a vote that they had confidence in police Chief Steve Conrad’s leadership.

Bolton’s office said he is committed to being transparent in his response to public safety challenges under the jail’s direct control.  Durham said there are 22 recruits in the department’s current academy class, for instance.

Local jail officials also said state Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard has sent the city a letter on strategies to free up space in the jail and on plans to add capacity at facilities across the state, although they did not share those details.

“Commissioner Ballard expressed that these measures will significantly improve problems with capacity at Metro Corrections,” Durham said. “We certainly hold Commissioner Ballard to his word.”

Besides the union, Bolton also has been in a battle with District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke, who filed a contempt order in January asking him and his top brass to explain incidents in which she alleged inmates were improperly held. Two former Louisville inmates have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that they and hundreds of others were detained in violation of their constitutional rights.

The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office has said most of Burke’s claims of noncompliance with court orders are incorrect.

Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or pbailey@courier-journal.com.

CONTINUE READING…

Owner of Old Louisville Pesticide Plant Prepares to Sell

Black Leaf property owner gives Courier-Journal exclusive look inside a property that triggered the state’s biggest ever urban environmental cleanup.

Image result for BLACK LEAF PROPERTY LOUISVILLE KY

Image result for BLACK LEAF PROPERTY LOUISVILLE KY

By JAMES BRUGGERS, The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Metal roofing has collapsed.

Trees are growing tall inside buildings. Walls are heavily tagged with graffiti.

And trespassers have set up makeshift camping or lounge areas among the arsenic and long-banned pesticides, having hauled in several couches in recent months – one of them with two small toy dolls left on the cushions.

It’s now about seven years into what Kentucky officials have called their largest urban environmental cleanup, and property owner Tony Young, on a rare tour of what he calls the Louisville Industrial Park, says: “I need to speak my piece. If I don’t do it now, I won’t have any chance.”

The 29-acre property, known by regulators as the Black Leaf site for a tobacco-based pesticide once made there, is scheduled for a foreclosure sale on Friday.

After long-banned pesticides like DDT and other dangerous chemicals or heavy metals were found in the soil, Young said he became unable to pay the $20,000 monthly mortgage he owed to First Capital Bank of Kentucky. He also owes the city nearly $1 million in back property taxes and the Metropolitan Sewer District $200,000 for several years of unpaid drainage fees. But as Young this week faces the loss of the property he’s owned since 1999, he is taking steps to recover financially while he promotes his plan to develop affordable housing for western Louisville.

Young last week sued his bank, a bank holding company, and ExxonMobil, claiming in a U.S. District Court filing that businesses have entered into “a secret deal” that cut him out and could cost him more than $20 million. He said he believes a new business cooperating with the bank and ExxonMobil intend to buy the property in a process that will wipe away the liabilities for the new owner and will allow ExxonMobil’s plan to proceed.

But that plan, he contends, would require a lesser degree of cleanup than his, which would need to meet more stringent standards for residential development.

“I am going to get my money back, one way or the other,” Young told the Courier-Journal. But if the ExxonMobil plan wins the day, “it screws all the community” by leaving chemicals behind and not meeting demand for affordable housing, he added.

Still, his plan does not appear to be going anywhere.

Exxon plan favored

The state of Kentucky instead is casting its provisional blessing on an alternative proposal backed by the giant oil company, Occidental Chemical Corp., and Grief Inc. to get the property ready for recycling it into future industrial or commercial businesses, with the less extensive cleanup that would require. Each of those companies inherited liability for past pollution, state officials have said.

City officials see the foreclosure sale as potentially removing a logjam by getting the property into the hands of a business with the financial ability to bring economic development to the blighted property – and to remove a festering eyesore and safety hazard just two miles from downtown in one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

Park Hill, where the property is located, is one of the crime-riddled communities Louisville Metro Police are focusing extra enforcement efforts in this year, along with Victory Park, Russell, Smoketown, Shawnee, Russell and Shelby Park

Theresa Zawacki, a senior policy adviser for Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm, said it is hard to predict the outcome of the foreclosure sale. But she said she expects more than one bidder on the property, now that businesses with liability for the pollution are ready to begin remediation. Friday’s sale is “another step in that process,” she said.

It’s large and directly served by rail, and suitable for industrial purposes, she said. “When things like this come up, there is typically a lot of interest,” she added.

Already, the state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency teamed up to remove contaminated soil from dozens of homes near the industrial site.

But the Courier-Journal in 2016 reported that Kentucky Division of Waste Management officials had said they could not under state law force a full cleanup to residential standards inside the property. This week, a spokesman for the waste management division, John Mura, said state officials have accepted the technical portions of the ExxonMobil plan “with the caveat that Exxon must be able to demonstrate property access and the ability to place an environmental covenant on the property if necessary.

“To date, Exxon has not demonstrated that ability.”

He said state officials hope the Young lawsuit “does not further delay the restart of remedial work that could begin soon after the property access and ownership issues are resolved.”

Security concerns

Exxon has played a key role in working with the state on a remediation plan.

“ExxonMobil seeks access to the property to meet its environmental and regulatory obligations,” said Todd Spitler, company spokesman. “We continue to work under the direction of (Kentucky regulators) to develop and implement a remedy for this site that is protective of human health and the environment.”

A First Capital Bank of Kentucky representative did not return a request for comment.

Some of the chemicals found on the property have been measured at hundreds to thousands of times higher than state officials consider safe.

Young granted the Courier-Journal its first tour of the property on Monday, where he sought to make a case for his position. He portrayed himself as a man looking out for a neighborhood troubled by drugs and violence. He said he feels his bank, Exxon and state officials turned against him. “I’ve tried my best. I’ve cooperated with the state,” he said.

The Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental group, also supports cleanup to residential standards, said its director, attorney Tom FitzGerald.

That would best help to “redress a burden that the neighbors have borne for entirely too long, and to provide for the broadest range of future uses,” he said. Leaving polluted soils in place shifts costs to the next generation, he said, adding “it may be legal, but it does not make it just or moral.”

Metro Councilman David James, who represents the area, had also been pressing for a cleanup that would do what Young was seeking – allow for residential development.

James said Tuesday he has not yet heard from the state environmental agency on Black Leaf cleanup requirements and is frustrated that a problem discovered in 2010 remains unsolved.

“I would like to have had it resolved five years ago,” he said.

James also said he was concerned to hear that trespassers or squatters may have set up camps by bringing in couches. He said he did not see any of that several months ago on a visit to the property. “It makes it difficult for police because they don’t have access to it,” said James, a former police officer. “It’s private.”

He also said he may need to “find out why Mr. Young is not doing more to prevent people from coming onto the property he owns – like hiring private security.”

For his part, Young said the property is too large to keep everyone out.

James also said he was not aware of any discussions between Young and the city to bring low-income housing to the property. “At this point, Mr. Young has financial interests in the property and is looking for a way to cover his interests,” James said.

Young said he had been working with the nonprofit Housing Partnership Inc., on the low-income housing plan. The partnership has ties to the city – Mayor Greg Fischer is a board member – and several years ago looked into whether a several-hundred unit affordable housing plan was economically feasible prior to the discovery of the contaminated soils.

That kind of contamination “stops development in their tracks,” said Mike Hynes, president of the partnership.

Last year Hynes reiterated his partnership’s interest in the property for low-income housing if the environmental problems could be worked out. But Hynes said: “The property has to be safe for people to live there.”

Details lacking

Young said his cleanup plan, which he said has been rejected, would have piled a lot of contaminated soils in berms, where it would be permanently entombed.

But he also offered no details on its costs.

When the Courier-Journal on Monday requested details on the two cleanup plans from the state, Mura told the Courier-Journal to submit a request for documents under the Kentucky Open Records law because the matter was now in litigation.

The state, however, is not part of that litigation, and the Courier-Journal is still waiting for a response to the records.

For his part, Young tells a story of how what he thought would be a good, $1.9 million investment has turned into a nightmare that’s cost him dearly. He said he had the property checked out by environmental consultants – a bank requirement – before purchasing it, and they found none of the problems that state officials later discovered.

“I tried to do something good here,” he said. “I am still trying to do something good.”

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In Kentucky, This Is What the War on Abortion Rights Looks Like

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By Lucy Westcott On 4/16/17 at 8:20 AM

Saturday is usually the busiest day for protests outside EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville, the last remaining abortion provider in Kentucky that came dangerously close to shutting down last week.

As women walk to and from the clinic and the parking lot, volunteers dressed in bright orange vests walk alongside them, forming a human barrier against an angry and increasingly violent mass of protesters yelling hateful remarks and waving signs. One protester likes to shove her sign into the escorts’ faces. Another, known as Backwards Bob, preaches at the women as he walks backwards in front of them, forcing himself into their line of vision.

Kate Lafferty, a graduate student and volunteer at the clinic, says escorts are posted at different points in a one-block radius around the clinic where patients walk, including on street corners or in an alleyway that leads to a parking garage. On a Saturday in late March, Lafferty was one of 45 escorts at EMW protecting the women seeking abortions from roughly 75 yelling, crying and preaching protesters.

“We’re always in sight of one another,” she says. “You see the familiar [protesters] and it’s definitely shocking.”

A federal judge ruled this week that the Kentucky clinic serving thousands of women annually can stay open—for now. But state lawmakers are looking to shut down the facility in a move that would make Kentucky, which already has some of the strictest laws limiting women’s reproductive healthcare, the only state in the nation without an abortion clinic.

The battle in Kentucky reflects renewed efforts across the nation from Republican-led state legislatures and a GOP majority in Congress to limit women’s right to abortion access. The assault is also coming from the new White House, where President Donald Trump signed a bill Thursday allowing states to withhold federal Title X family planning funding from Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions.

“Those of us who have been involved with access to abortion since the 1970s know that we’re more facing pre-Roe v. Wade days now than making any progress,” says Kate Cunningham, president of A Fund, an all-volunteer organization that has been helping Kentucky women pay for abortions since 1993. “Before Roe, there were women driving through the night to take women from Louisville to New York to access abortion. We hope and trust we don’t have to go back there, to those days, but that’s where we are. It’s so tough.”

In Kentucky, lawmakers argue that the Louisville clinic violates state requirements that such facilities have emergency medical agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service. Abortion rights activists note these kind of rules are excessive and not medically necessary, and in March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Louisville clinic to try to keep it open.

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers issued a temporary restraining order in March against the state of Kentucky, which had threatened to shut down the clinic on April 3. That move would have made Kentucky the first state without a legal provider. Stivers then signed an order Monday to keep the clinic open until the lawsuit is resolved, and the clinic’s license has been renewed through May 31, 2018. The trial is set to begin in the first week of September.

If Kentucky does become the first state to lose all providers, it would result in even bigger barriers for women, says Elizabeth Nash, state issues experts at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank based in New York. Not only will women have to travel longer distances to receive care, but clinics in surrounding states will have a bigger demand that will likely result in longer waiting times for an extremely time-sensitive procedure.

“Travel costs money, so do hotel rooms,” says Nash. “Not everybody gets paid time off. Essentially, you would be losing out on earning money. It balloons.”

But order or not, getting a termination remains an enormous challenge in Kentucky. Lafferty, 29, has been escorting at EMW for the past four months with her husband, Patrick Danner. Originally from New Jersey, she says it was a jolt to arrive in Kentucky and see how difficult it is to obtain an abortion compared to her home state and most of the northeastern United States.

“Having people preaching at you, holding up signs,” she says. “That was definitely a shock to me.”

Lafferty says she’s been called a murderer and told by protesters that women’s bodies are only good for one thing: reproducing. “Clients are quite shocked” by it, too, she says.

Fausta Luchini, 61, has volunteered as a clinic escort at EMW for the past eight years. During that time, she has seen the situation outside the clinic deteriorate as protesters have become increasingly aggressive. Photos sent by Luchini to Newsweek show protesters shoving large signs in escorts’ face, or getting uncomfortably close.

“The goal of escorts is to hold space for the client so the client is empowered to do what they want to do. That means that we really ignore, or do the best we can to ignore, the protesters,” says Luchini. “Many clients are really upset. Being with somebody and doing that walk with somebody who is crying, who is just in distress; emotionally, it can be difficult that way.”

“Chasers,” or protesters who follow patients and talk, preach or cry at them, all while invading their personal space, are another issue for Luchini and the women she escorts. “One in particular likes to walk in front of them and walk backwards,” she says. “We call him Backwards Bob.”

Once, the protesters discovered Luchini’s name, Googled her and found her mother’s obituary, which was read out to her during an escorting session.

“That was kind of bizarre,” she says. “That was unsettling.”

Related: Kentucky’s last clinic saved from ‘imminent closure’

Part of Luchini’s job as an escort is figuring out the safest way to move patients from their car to the clinic while avoiding protesters who have become increasingly aggressive. Although there’s an eight-foot safety barrier between the clinic and the protesters, EMW opens onto the street, meaning demonstrators can essentially stand anywhere except inside the building. The majority of the patients Luchini escorts come from Kentucky, although some travel from Indiana, which has 11 abortion clinics in all, but only 44 percent of all women live in counties with such facilities.

A spokesperson for the Psalms 82 (P82), a Christian anti-abortion group with a strong presence outside the Louisville clinic, tells Newsweek that its members are “not surprised at all by the judge’s order to keep [EMW] open. We expected it.” The group is known to film clients as they go to their appointments, says Lafferty.

Nash says Kentucky is one of seven states that have a single abortion provider left, joining West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi and Wyoming. It’s part of a decades-long decline in abortion providers, whether it’s due to better access to contraceptives — and therefore fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions — or state-level regulations that have kept new doctors from becoming abortion providers.

“The political landscape has changed in Kentucky and the Legislature has now made it its business to not only restrict abortion access through legislation, but also restrictions to family planning services,” says Nash, citing a recent law in Kentucky allowing the state to withhold state funds to clinics, including Planned Parenthood, that provide only family planning services. “There’s a real landscape change for reproductive health in Kentucky.”

Kentucky women unable to pay for a termination in their home state can obtain help from Cunningham’s A Fund. Last year, the organization helped 416 Kentucky women pay for abortions in seven states, including Kentucky; in 2015, that number was 314, says Cunningham. The average fiscal assistance provided by A Fund last year was $114, ranging from payments of $50 to $2,000.

“Many women find it more geographically convenient to go out of state for an abortion than come to Louisville,” says Cunningham.

Women in western Kentucky might go to Granite City, Illinois, while those in Bowling Green might go to Nashville, Tennessee. Women in northern Kentucky tend to travel to Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio for their abortions, and women in southeastern Kentucky go to Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Those states also have rather arduous so-called informed consent requirements, so women have to go and stay for a couple of days or make a couple of trips,” says Cunningham. “There’s nothing easy about it.”

Don Cox, a lawyer for EMW, is looking ahead to the first week of September, when the court case is set to begin. He says it’s “irrational that we should have to waste our time and effort dealing with stupid regulations and statutes like these.”

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Cunningham, in the meantime, says she’s working with escorts and others to try and establish at 20-ft safety zone at the clinic’s entrance to better protect the “heroic” volunteers. Until then, EMW escorts will continue donning orange vests and walking women to the clinic doors, protecting their constitutional right to have a termination.

“When a woman comes to EMW to get an abortion, she has already overcome some tremendous barriers,” says Luchini. “The protesters are just the last hurdle. They don’t see themselves that way, but that’s all they are.”

“It’s the last thing they gotta conquer.”

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