On his foray into cannabis advocacy- first at the state level, US Congressman Matt Gaetz joins us and shares, "I knew that we would never convince an overwhelmingly Republican state legislature and a strident Republican governor to engage in cannabis reform if they didn't feel it in their hearts. I didn't think I could convey that in a two dimensional medium, and so I invited Paige Figi to come and testify before the Criminal Justice Committee I chaired. I remember the conversation I had with a Baptist preacher who served on the committee with me. I was worried that he might go into full meltdown when surprised with Paige's story, and so I told him what was going to happen in the committee. He just grabbed me by the arm and prayed with me and said he just couldn't be with me on this. By the end of the committee meeting, he was pounding on the desk saying, "God put this plant on earth for a reason."
US Congressman Earl Blumenauer returns to share the state of the Rohrabacher Blumenauer Amendment as well as his thoughts on the fact that over 20M people have a relationship with cannabis each month. This has led to a shift and hardening of public opinion in support of legalizing the plant. Congressman Blumenauer feels that there is a good chance that there will be movement specifically on 280E as there are so many 'tax vehicles' being discussed. And if you're listening and are a constituent of anyone in house leadership, the Congressman urges you to write, call and go down to that office to share your thoughts.
US Congressman Carlos Curbelo joins us and discusses his point of view on cannabis which extends from his belief in federalism and states rights. He was first made aware of cannabis as an issue through Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code which states that cannais businesses may not deduct otherwise ordinary business expenses from gross income associated with the trafficking of Schedule I or II substances, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. Now well versed in the subject, Congressman Curbelo also discusses the wellbeing of patients relying on cannabis.
US Congressman Ro Khanna joins us and shares his initial reaction to AG Sessions rescinding the Cole Memo’s. On personal liberty, he continues the conversation from our last episode with US Congressman Tom McClintock which brings up the similarities between guns and cannabis in regards to concealed carry. On cannabis law enforcement he discusses racial equity. On spending federal funds to go after cannabis businesses, Congressman Khanna supports both the McClintock Polis and Rohrabacher Blumenauer Amendments. On jobs, he discusses bringing the new economy to every corner of the US. Further to that point, he notes that we’ve got to come together- in order to compete with other nations moving forward “we don’t have a person to waste."
Half the namesake of the McClintock Polis Amendment which seeks to protect adult-use cannabis businesses the same way that the Rohrabacher Blumenauer Amendment protects medical cannabis businesses from the federal government, US Congressman Tom McClintock joins us to discuss his reasoning for sponsoring the bill. He also notes his general philosophy of governance as it relates to state vs. federal government.
I only met Mac Jones twice. Once, when we did the interview and once, at Andy's wedding. He was an unbelievably warm human being. He was also a banker. And he had cannabis clients. Andy introduced us, so we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate Mac after his passing through a conversation with his son Brad. The full interview with Mac follows the conversation with Andy and Brad. You can donate to Ark Valley Hospice in Mac's name.
"Jeff Sessions, as much as we disagree on all sorts of topics, he's right. Marijuana is federally illegal and marijuana needs rules and protections in place by states like Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, need to come together and stand up for these businesses that they collect tax revenue from and give us something better than a flimsy piece of paper with a couple rules on it that any administration can pull away. And until that happens marijuana and Jeff Sessions, it is illegal and Jeff Sessions is right."
Brian Vicente returns to provide updated perspective on the state of the cannabis economy in the state of Colorado. We also preview how the upcoming election might affect legal cannabis across the United States.
Khurshid Khoja joins us and shares his deep history in the cannabis industry. He notes how he’s been approaching the California market in 2018 based on the myriad changes stemming from the first week of the year.
Providing an update on all things NCIA, Aaron Smith returns to discuss what the association is seeing.
Former NBA phenom Al Harrington joins us and shares the valuable lessons learned from his pre-pro coaches. He discusses his career in the NBA, what he learned from the veterans when he got there and what he learned from the former commissioner when he left. Al also of course shares what led to his foray into the cannabis economy and why exactly one of his company’s is named after his grandmother.
Constance Finley joins us following a successful career in finance. She’s been in cannabis for the past 10 years and has evolved with the industry, now well-licensed as we make our way through this next reality. Constance is now focused on providing a pharmaceutical grade product with verified results from physicians.
Of Cypress Hill, Muggs joins us and shares how his east coast upbringing led to initial west coast success. He remembers that his relationship with cannabis led to inspiration and action, which was different than what he heard about the plant. He does feel that the group had something to do with the way the majority of society who accepts cannabis views cannabis. And how that informs his business endeavors in the space.
Roger Volodarsky joins us and discusses the nuances of the New York vs. California markets. Going back, Roger was an avid fan of the plant but his parents didn’t differentiate between cannabis and any other substance, with the exception of alcohol. For them emigrating from the old Soviet block alcohol was just fine, where as cannabis was certainly not. Roger’s use made them feel as though they failed as parents. Growing up in New York didn’t help as the state had no legal medical cannabis framework in the 90’s so the plant was essentially just as stigmatized as it was in "Refer Madness.” And it hasn’t necessarily gotten too much better as evidenced by our current medical program which is why Roger has moved on to Los Angeles where the cannabis culture is a bit richer.
Helen Cho joins and and reminds us that Hawaii legalized cannabis in the year 2000 and it took seventeen years to open the first dispensaries. But two years ago, thanks in part to State Senator Will Espero, legislation passed, for said dispensaries to in fact open. There was a certain threshold of capital heft needed to attain one of those eight licenses. As a reminder the system is somewhat conservative. There is no wholesale market meaning that market participants cannot assist each other with supply and demand during shortages or overages. And in other news, the testing requirements are strict- which of course is an absolute positive. Regarding the consumer- Day 1 sounds like it was just like Colorado but unlike Colorado there were a few issues with the seed to sale technology which hadn’t been tested before that day.
Lukas Behal joins us and provides his background in events which has led him to organize one of the world’s largest trade shows in the Czech Republic. He notes that there were better times in the past- decades ago, just after Czechoslovakia split, homegrow was prevalent and public consumption was not an issue. Since 2010, he’s been building the trade show within the context of legal cannabis.
And based on Lucas’ personal experience, we also get a chance to discuss the differences between socialism and communism. And we come away thinking the true enemy of society being laziness coupled with an aversion to conceiving of original thought.
Jim Borghesani returns as a follow-up to running the ballot initiative that passed in Massachusetts in 2016. He does review the days and weeks leading up to the vote and share what it was that in fact worked to capture the win. He mentions media endorsements of course didn’t hurt, but it was gathering the physician community together to share their support of medical cannabis that most likely had the biggest impact. Jim also notes that the opposition used the some old arguments which may have backfired in a state like Massachusetts. Of course, those same arguments worked to great affect in the state of Arizona on the same day- so go figure. Jim also gives an update on the state's legislature’s actions before the vote and after and what to expect moving forward.
Bibiana Rojas joins us and shares that Colombia legalized medical cannabis and did so with the country being a true medicinal market. What she means by that is that cannabis has to walk and talk like a medicine. No flower is on sale, no shipments take place. The rules state essentially whatever we do with pharmaceuticals, we’re doing with cannabis. Bibi’s company has now received licenses to cultivate. For background, her family had a number of businesses and based on Bibi’s international business experience, she was elected to be the steward and she takes us through where she’s going with the business in Colombia’s cannabis economy. Incidentally, Bibi is also kind enough to give us a lesson in global treasuries.
Steve Moore joins us from CannaTech in London and takes through his public affairs experience. He’s done work for both David Cameron and Tony Blair. Originally from Northern Ireland, he notes it was an interesting time to be in that region in the 1970’s & 80’s. As a kid he didn’t really understand what was happening. As a teenager he says he adapted accordingly. People were able to weave normal life around what was happening. Regarding cannabis legalization- Steve has noticed a few things- cannabis normalization changes from place to place. Stereotypes are nebulous. And the political environment is always unique regarding cannabis. Steve takes us through the unique situation of the cannabis economy in England.
Hawaii State Senator Will Espero joins us and shares that in 2000, Hawaii became the first legislature in the nation to pass legal medical cannabis. Since then, though it’s been slow going. There have been obstacles and roadblocks. Will was the lead Senator on the dispensary bill which finally passed in 2015. The dispensaries are now up and running. And go figure, the sky has not fallen. That said, the system is somewhat conservative. Law Enforcement desired to not have paraphernalia sold inside dispensaries, and so it’s not. Specific felonies have been introduced for dispensary owners regarding cannabis diversion. That said, reciprocity is on the table and Will is interested in developing the hemp market in Hawaii.
Alex Cooley returns and shares that the goals in Washington State and the city of Seattle are the same as they’ve been for the last two years. This is the third year running where we’re discussing delivery and consumption. Testing protocols and standards have changed and remain an evolving reality. We’re now up to the basic questions of how are the regulations that have been put in place affecting business. Which brings us to taxes- that’s the large looming issue du jour. The excise tax is now 37% which is actually lower than it was. But that’s still astronomically high. On top of that, local and state taxes-which in Seattle add up to 10.1%- need to be paid. Competing with the black market is tough if you’ve got a 47% surcharge.
Michael Bronstein returns to discuss the fact that he sees the state legislature of New Jersey legalizing adult-use cannabis within 2018. Governor Murphy campaigned on the issue and there’s no question where he stands as far as support. That said, there’s not necessarily agreement on a timeline. What Michael does know is that the New Jersey State Senate President is for it and wants legal cannabis adopted. There’s more of a question in the House. Michael further notes that important bridges have to be built, just like on any legislative agenda. In his view the ultimate legislation must of course speak to licenses and product availability and may also speak to social justice. On product, the lesson has been learned from New York and he feels that there will be flower available in New Jersey.
Nick Kovacavitch joins us and shares his background in college basketball and how he takes lessons learned on the court to the board room. Lesson one as he says is figuring out how to work together. While you can develop deep relationships on a team, you don’t have to necessarily like everyone as long as you’re all committed to the same goal. You’re all working for the same purpose. Work together to benefit those who have specific skills and put them in a position to succeed. None of that is different in business. The competitive nature of sports is also hard to get away from in business. Recorded at MJBizCon, Nick notes that his competitive spirit has him wanting to compete and win. But he balances that gut response with the fact that the cannabis industry must have collaboration and will have consolidation.