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Episode 26 Matthew Bratcher, KY NORML Executive Director

This week over at the Bluegrass Cannabis Podcast, we're talking to KY NORML Executive Director Matthew Bratcher about legalization in Kentucky, good outlets for a CBD dispensary in Kentucky, and bad faith actors already appearing in Kentucky!

Matt and Lauren Bratcher with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear at the Capitol in Frankfort
Matt and Lauren Bratcher with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

[00:00:00.970] - Elijah

Welcome to the bluegrass podcast. Today we're talking with Matt Bratcher, executive director of the

Kentucky chapter of normal. We're going to be talking about the chances for new cannabis legislation

this session, the new executive order from the governor's office, and the dangers that Kentucky ins

are already facing from unscrupulous actors in the cannabis space. All that and a very special

musical feature by the Low water bridge band. Thanks for stopping by today and let's get right to it.

[00:00:32.410] - Elijah

And did you want to start out talking about how you got into cannabis a little bit and how you started

working with Kentucky normal?

[00:00:40.190] - Matthew Bratcher

Sure. I've got a long history of history with cannabis, goes back a long time, probably younger than I

should have been, but changed the past early on, obviously it was just kind of rebelliousness and

things like that. But as I got older, I've realized that it was really helping me out through anxiety, but

the pain that I got from my injuries in football at high school, collegiate level, and so I started to really

appreciate it a whole lot more and really got into the activism side of it. I've been really wanting to for

a long time. I tried to get a state chapter started or university chapter started while I was at western,

but I had trouble getting any faculty advisors to join in. Surprisingly, they always got to put on the back

burner. It was something I always wanted to do, and it's a continuing education, and it never really left

my mind when I went off to school at the state. And when I came back after a few years and I started

working for a company in Olingreen here called at the time, it was ironic. It eventually changed his

name to enlightenment, and it was a company in the cannabis space.

[00:02:13.610] - Matthew Bratcher

What they did was they set up signs all over the country. If there was a dispensary, they was likely

inside there either running their digital menus or having like an internal advertising set up through

digital screening. So with the way advertising is in cannabis, which is extremely strict, so there was

some pretty heavy rules to deal with, it was really my first introduction into the cannabis industry. It

was working on that side of things, getting different things going, and making sure that any of the

advertisements that we ran in store were always compliant with state laws. They needed to be vetted

through their local cannabis council or whatever. We had to go follow that. So there was a lot of

working with that in there. And it was just one day we all looked up at each other and here we are in all

these legal states, doing business in all these legal states. Here we are in Kentucky, and we probably

have the best state for it. And we need to bring it back. We need to bring it here. We're seeing what it's

like in these other states. And we're like, we got to do more to bring it back here.

[00:03:32.230] - Matthew Bratcher

And so we reached out to the Normal chapter that was sort of in place and they were sort of defunct

and they were like, look, you all want it. And that's how it started. They want it out. Really? They tried

to sell it to us and the national was like, no, they can't sell you the chapter not normal, no. So I was

like, what good? They're like, well, we're going to pull their thing. And they're like, well, could we? And

they're like, absolutely. So that was back in 2017, around September 2017 or so. And we've been in it

ever since, going to Frankfurt, meeting legislators, working with these other groups, kind of getting

used to the idea of just kind of getting our footing first few years, and now here we are a few years

later. I think we've got a pretty good idea and landscape things and we're really pushing hard and I

think we got a good set up, good machine, and we got some great backing and resources through

national. So it's been a trip to get here, but it's been awesome.

[00:04:49.980] - Elijah

And you all have really taken off, I think, at least for my radar this year with a lot of your projects and a

lot of your activism and advocacy in Frankfurt especially. Do you want to talk about that some, this

legislative session?

[00:05:03.110] - Matthew Bratcher

Oh, yeah, honestly, all the kudos to that goes to Lauren, our deputy director. My wife, she has really

busted her tail to ensure a lot of stuff, reaching out, working with these other groups, making sure

projects come to fruition. She's been taking the lead on a lot of stuff this year and she.

[00:05:24.550] - Elijah

Has knocked it out of the park 100%. And I've noticed that your social media is much more active,

your website is much more active. You all have really stepped up your game in a lot of different ways

and are running with the ball in a big way this year. That set up you had in the...

[00:05:40.930] - Matthew Bratcher

Tunnel, that was a very nice working with Kentucky moms for medical marijuana with that tunnel

project was awesome. They had tons of great pictures of patients throughout the state, and I think it

was a great display. 350 pictures of patients across the state. I think just about every county, every

district was covered and there was even some that had passed away. Gatewood galbrook up there, a

couple of some of the activists that have been that aren't with us anymore.

[00:06:17.830] - Elijah

They had those great gatewood was right bumper stickers out at the table.

[00:06:22.890] - Matthew Bratcher

Yeah, I think it was a good statement. And our side of it was really putting the facts up, making sure

that as the legislators walk through that tunnel over to the capital, that they're not just confronted with

the compassion side of it. These are the faces that need it, but also, here are some facts. Here are

some studies that back up this choice. 37 plus states have already made this decision. They're not

reinventing. They haven't reinvented the wheel. There's nothing novel about what we're doing or trying

to do. So putting these facts in front of them, I think that's so important. Especially for years it's been

compassion, compassion and it's really changed a lot of people's minds over the years. But I think up

to a certain point it doesn't right. And there needs to be more people. Some people are more analytic,

some people are more emotional as far as how they have their decision making, that's okay.

Everybody's different and not one right way or wrong way to go through a process of making a

decision right. So all we can do is give the best facts for them. We got to get the best, greatest

studies that we can find that not just support us, because that's obvious, but just all the newest

research that we can get out.

[00:07:54.870] - Matthew Bratcher

That's what we can do. We've got access to so many new things. As they come out through national,

they like to make sure that, hey, new studies are coming out. One of our directors, Paul Armantono,

he's forefront in making sure that we got access to this stuff. He works at University of Oaksterdam

and he's just a fantastic guy. He makes sure that we've got these nice books that are it's called

clinical applications cannabis. And he keeps it updated about every couple of years or so with the

latest study. So it's a fantastic resource. And I think this year we're going to get a copy out to all of the

senators. Show us how cannabis can affect the different aspects of someone's help, how it helps.

We're also going to hit them up with a bunch of facts and figures from all across the cannabis.

Whether it's got to do with decriminalization, so very important, especially with working a medical

program, I think it's so important to have a tandem decriminalization program in place as well and

show them the facts and figures about that, where the disparity and arrests are. Show them how team

use drops.

[00:09:12.470] - Matthew Bratcher

When it becomes regulated, it's harder to get your hands on it. So there's a lot of good things like Duis

go down because people are drinking less honestly. And that's all good thing. And it's kind of hard to

explain to these people that it's great for our health, overall general health of our people, when for

years they have been told how bad it is. We don't have an endocannabinoid system inside of our body

for no reason, right? So it's just now getting around to where doctors are being taught this. People are

starting to be more educated that it is very important. It's important for our overall health. And so to

get them to change their mind on this, it's just by putting these things, facts and figures back in front

of them and just letting them know this. Not that you've been lied to, but they were mistaken. Not that

you're wrong, but you just got the wrong information. You haven't made the wrong decision based on

what you thought you knew, right? It's basically what I would try to tell you. You haven't made the

wrong decision what you thought you knew. That's a very valid decision come to, but here are some

new facts.

[00:10:30.720] - Matthew Bratcher

So let's look at these facts. Let's add that into what you think you know. This is coming into a new

kind of stance on cannabis policy reform.