Dan Seum Jr., a medical marijuana advocate and the son of Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale, has been banned from the third floor of the Capitol Annex after racially charged comments, according to a letter detailing the ban.
But the younger Seum says the whole incident is a misunderstanding and that he plans on hiring an attorney to help clear his name.
News of the incident first broke on Wednesday in an article written by Tom Loftus for the Louisville Courier-Journal which details the ban enacted by House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown.
A Feb. 29 letter informing Seum of his ban from the third floor of the Capitol Annex by Hoover states that after checking into the lobby 12 days prior, Seum engaged in a “racially-charged monologue.” The letter says an African-American Legislative Research Commission employee was seated a few feet from Seum and was distressed by the comments.
“You attempted to justify your comments by claiming the described common sentiments during the 1930’s,” the letter states.
Seum, who is the veterans and legislative affairs director for Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana, a 501(c )4 that actively lobbies for patients to safely access cannabis in Kentucky, said he was directly quoting the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Harry Anslinger.
In 2014 articles for The Fix, and Huffington Post reporters quote Anslinger as telling Congress in 1937 “(t)here are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
Seum says he often uses the quote to explain that marijuana was first placed under prohibition under racially charged propaganda. That’s the conversation he found himself in on the third floor of the annex on Feb.17 as he waited for a meeting with Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, he said.
When Seum, Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana Director Jaime Montalvo, Eric and Michelle Crawford checked in on the third floor for their meeting, Seum says they engaged in discussion with several individuals from Sawyersville, he said.
“I got my phone out, and I quoted (Anslinger’s) argument that he used in Congress,” he said. “It is a despicable quote. It is a bigoted quote. And I was telling them how appalling it is, and they agreed.”
In a March 4 letter from Seum to the Legislative Research Commission, Seum says he is “sincerely sorry for this terrible misunderstanding.” Seum says he advocates for African-Americans unfairly imprisoned for marijuana usage.
Download Seum’s full letter to the LRC here: lrc ban Seum letter.pdf
Seum said neither he nor the others he was with were interviewed during the investigation which banned him from the third floor of the annex, something he considers to be a violation of his due process. Now that several news organizations have run stories, Seum is seeking to find injunctive relief from what he considers to be slander against him.
“I’ve got an attorney on this. I’ve got the national organizations. I’ve contacted Marijuana Policy Project. I’m in talks with National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. Drug Policy Alliance are talking about this, so I’m doing what I can. I’ve reached out to the ACLU,” he said. “It looks like I’m going to have to hire an attorney. I have to — I have no other choice.”
Since the stories have come out detailing the ban from the third floor, Seum says he is getting people calling him a racist, which he says couldn’t be further from the truth.
When contacted by Spectrum News on Thursday, the Legislative Research Commission had no comment on what they consider to be a personnel matter.
Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News or anytime with Spectrum On Demand.Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or [email protected].