Recorded in May Charlie Rutherford and I sit down for our second helping of Political Discourse. We once again focus on how we each see policy. We first discuss Jeff Sessions and his War on Drugs redux. We talk about tax policy in association with government services. We discuss the environment and education. We talk about employment as it relates to wages, CEO wages and productivity. We discuss immigration. We talk about AI and how automation affects the prospects of employment in the US in the future. And of course, we discuss healthcare and the concept of repeal and replace and what replace means through discovering a means for replace. Finally we discuss the perception of the right on the left and the left on the right.
Recorded on his farm, Lieutenant Governor, David Zuckerman joins us to discuss the history of cannabis in Vermont as well as his unique story. Dave, as he’s also known, has 20 acres of organic vegetables and raises organic hogs, chickens and grain and either when on or off the farm, the Lieutenant Governor is thinking about day to day choices regarding our personal impact. Regarding politics, he volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 1992 and was asked to run in 1994 and lost by only 59 votes. He was appointed to the local electric commission was elected to the house1996 served for 14 years, ran for and then served in the senate for four years which brought him to running and winning the Lieutenant Governorship this past November.
Recorded May 5th of 2017, John Davis returns to provide a history of legal cannabis in Washington State as well as an update on his personal saga. Washington State has always been building the regulatory plane as they fly it. For John in particular, he was a medical dispensary owner prior to legal adult use cannabis being voted in. But the medical market was never truly regulated. And so, the goal was to move the medical shops over to the adult-use program between July 2016 and July 2017. So John had to apply to keep his business. He put in his priority submission on the first day he could but one thing led to another and he had to shut his doors a year ago. All was lost until just recently- when he finally got approval.
Ben Pollara returns to discuss the state of the cannabis economy in Florida. Of course, Florida passed an amendment to legalize medical marijuana with 71% of the vote in 2016. The legislative session just ended however with a failure to pass implementing legislation. The two houses in Florida have bi-cameral consensus to maintain the current system with both the senate and house saying new licenses need to be tied to the number of patients admitted into the program. Businesses need customers to stay in business, so from a standing start, one can see how this approach makes sense. This does ultimately mean however, that market-driven growth economy legislators counterintuitively prefer a small closed market for cannabis.
A lifelong regional banker, Mac Jones joins us and notes that the banking industry is a completely different animal than it was just a short time ago. He shares that two things have happened in tandem- there has been an increase in regulations on banks while bankers have come to have less of a relationship with depositors and merchants. All the while, there’s no longer true accountability in the industry. That said, Mac’s always kept that relationship with the merchant and so when legal cannabis arrived in Colorado, with an understanding of the Cole Memo’s, Mac saw no difference in cannabis merchants and provided traditional banking relationships in the industry- providing structural support for the industry. And there’s much much more.
Recorded back in January in a parking lot, Crash Barry joins us and discusses the history of cannabis in Maine. Going back to the late 60’s through his time in the Coast Guard in the late 80’s & 1990’s cannabis was grown outdoors. As a participant on the other side of the War on Drugs, Crash saw cannabis driven indoors. After Crash was done with the Coast Guard, he realized his calling and became an author, penning Marijuana Valley- a tome that’s out of print but still available if you look for it. In it, Crash documents the Maine cannabis economy leading up to legalization in 2009. Crash is now on the hunt for good genetics and loves the fact that he’s able to test and know empirically what’s in what he grows.
Brendan Kennedy from Privateer Holdings and Adam Bierman from MedMen join me for a panel discussion at the IMN Institutional Capital and Cannabis Conference. The panel is set up as a debate between the concepts of plant touching investment vs. ancillary here in the US. The US unfortunately, is starting to fall behind the rest of the world in regards to federal regulations. So despite Brendan’s being invested in plant touching opportunities in Canada and other countries, his point of view in the US is that for the time being, the opportunity is investing in brands. Adam’s point of view is that now is the time to invest in the infrastructure of what will be the cannabis economy right here at home. It’s a thought-provoking, lively conversation in front of a group of investors.
Jmichaele Keller joins us and shares that he considered himself a global citizen upon his first trip out of the states when he was a kid. He appreciated architecture, went to Rome and as far as Asia to investigate. He found a calling though in computers- in which he started before there were Windows. He got a job as a room service waiter and fell in love with hospitality. He got one of the first IBM PCs that Marriott had- which had 64K of RAM and a 10 Megabyte hard drive. He made his way into finance and wowed executives by budgeting and forecasting using that now archaic machine. From there he went on to software and on to real estate. Jmichaele ultimately found his way into the cannabis industry through the very important work of lab testing.
The Director of the Isreali Medical Cannabis Agency, Yuval Landschaft joins us to take us through cannabis regulations in the holy land. Not originally a cannabis enthusiast, Yuval eventually understood where we were with it’s potential - as standing on the shore of an island. Years later, after deepening his understanding of the agricultural, manufacturing, medical and otherwise…that we’re standing at the shore of a continent. He contends that maybe the ancients knew something that we’re now trying to discover again. Israel is in the process of medicalization at Yuval puts it ensuring that each patient ties an indication or qualifying condition to his or her cannabis use. From there, the country has five books worth of information on how the program works- which Yuval takes us through.
The Copernicus of Cannabis, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam joins us to discuss the advent of cannabis research, it’s history and current landscape. He says it’s very difficult to work on compounds, that are under legal constraints. When he started there was some knowledge around cannabinoids but it was vague and not in modern terms. As a natural products chemist he knew that the first thing that needed to be done was to elucidate the chemistry as you can’t do research with an unknown extract. He read historical information on the plant in many different languages to set his baseline understanding. This eventually set him up to be the custodian of the world’s supply of legal THC in 1963 which at the time was 10 grams and the rest as they say, is history.
Running the largest cannabis producer on earth that publishes the address, Bruce Linton joins us to discuss his global operation. Canopy is of course in Canada but also does business in Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Australia. Ireland, Italy, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Poland are all opening up per Bruce. Based on his global presence, he provides his thoughts on what’s happening here in the US as well. And of course when compared with all of those federal cannabis operations, the United States is simply falling behind the rest of the world…and as Bruce says, the US is the opposite. What brought him to medical cannabis to begin with is the fact that Canada was treating cannabis as simple and straightforward public policy. And of course they’re moving to adult-use next.
Exempted from having to go to high school, Glenn Peterson instead went to a work-study school which he says was a wonderful place. He was involved in politics nearly from the jump- having a friendship with Mark Udall and the Udall family. An eagle scout, the concept of being employed made no sense to him. Glenn says he's pretty conservative and essentially libertarian but politically he considers himself a cell of one. Glenn is completely enigmatic. When he mentions that he knows how to throw blades and catch them without cutting himself...in his case, that’s a fact as well as an extremely well imagined metaphor. After trying his hand at being a private investigator, he demonstrated a knack for business through real estate, his success eventually led him to cannabis.
Jane West joins us and gives us background on her initial foray into the cannabis industry- Edible Events. But before all that and after a key two-weeks, Jane switched paths from a potential career in environmental law, moved to New York City and found a place producing events. One of her events was to take place just four days after 9/11 and Jane takes us through her experience on that day and during that time in New York City. Within six months she married her husband and moved to Denver. After her employer relieved her of her duties due to seeing coverage of one of her edible events…with an idea in mind to bring cannabis women together, she eventually crossed paths with Jazmin Hupp…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Peter Barsoom joins us and shares that he wound up getting a job in management consulting in the late 90s. It turned out that his clients were in financial services…the industry in which he stayed for the ensuing 20 years. He got experience at top financial firms which put Peter at the Federal Reserve the weekend before Lehman collapsed. At the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange his position was introducing regulated and transparent credit derivative markets. That thinking attracted him to the cannabis market, Peter realized an opportunity for his skill set in the industry and jumped in- and has been here ever since.
Recorded March 2nd, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher returns to share that we see the same societal impact from making cannabis illegal that we saw by making alcohol illegal- it was harmful to our country then as it is now. Representative Rohrabacher notes that he’s interested in inviting AG Sessions in for a discussion with the Cannabis Caucus. He goes on to share where he and his congressional colleagues are with current and future federal legislation including his Respect States Marijuana Laws. Just like Congressmen Blumenauer and Perlmutter did, Congressman Rohrabacher urges us- we the people- especially veterans, religious leaders and seniors- to visit our elected representatives in support of cannabis.
The congressman joins us and shares Colorado’s cannabis legalization results- crime is down, businesses have grown, there’s a better banking landscape and revenue to the state has been strong. The congressman has introduced The Marijuana Business Access To Banking Act which says that if a State has a regulatory structure in place, the businesses within that State would be exempt from the very restrictive federal banking laws. This of course would put into law the FinCen guidance released in tandem with the third Cole Memo. Remember- it was the Ogden memo in 2009, the first cole memo in 2011, the second cole memo in 2013 and that third cole memo in 2014. The congressman says that momentum is building for true federal legislation.
The enigmatic Ngaio Bealum joins us and explains through his long time Golden State Warriors fandom that he is in fact a bay area native. He lets us know that he's a nerd but he’s not a punk and he most definitely was the class clown. He studied music and theatre and rather than become a high school band teacher, he became a road comic in 1990 doing the drive, drive, drive, joke, joke, joke detail. A self proclaimed low-key enlightened narcissist he has always been an activist as his parents were in the black panther party in Oakland. He says he’s always down for rally’s or parades. A veritable quote machine, one of Ngaio’s ethos is to never let anger guide you but let it motivate you.
Taylor West joins us and discusses her dog Tucker who you know if you’ve been to NCIA HQ. From a small town, Taylor was ready to leave as soon as she could. That said, she understands the community from which she came and realizes that not everyone does leave. Taylor eventually found a career in politics and subsequently found the NCIA. Her first day just so happened to be on January 1st 2014. She notes the importance of the work done to setup the industry up in Colorado and elsewhere and highlights three years of lobby days and how far the industry has come from. But as we’ve always said, cannabis years are dog years so Taylor points out that deep relationships with federal legislators have been built in just three short years.