Q1 Podcast Highlights

June 5, 2019

Episode 393 – Congressman Dana Rohrbacher

  • I’ve always been in favor of letting people live their own lives. In this case, we were able to not just talk about legalizing cannabis, but legalizing cannabis and coupling it with: let the people of the states determine what the laws should be when it comes to criminal justice, and especially when it comes to cannabis.
  • The basis of my belief in cannabis is not because I want to push people into using cannabis, even for medical purposes or just to have a good time. No. My purpose is only to provide people the freedom to make the choice on what they want to do with their own damn lives.
  • Cannabis is becoming legal all over the country, and the people in their districts are voting to make it legal, so how come they’re bucking their own constituents who are voting the opposite way?

Episode 394 – Congressman Carlos Curbelo

  • The more polarized that we are inside the Congress, the less likely that we will get the solutions we need. Whether it’s immigration, health care, cannabis, you know, all these issues that cry for solutions. The more polarized the institution is, the less likely anything good will get done.
  • The more relief we can provide, the better. In the context of criminal justice reform and everything else, most people are coming around to the understanding that excluding people, whether it’s locking them up or making it difficult for them to vote or to get a job or anything else, that’s just not a way to promote a healthy society. We need to promote healing, rehabilitation.
  • For a lot of people it’s about: “Well, what does this mean for the next election?” I don’t think that type of mentality is conducive to building a stronger, healthier, more prosperous society […] So I think we have to take the long view and say, “Well, let’s stop worrying about the next two years. Let’s think about the next 10, 15, 20 years.”

Episode 395 – Governor John Hickenlooper

  • I thought the state should be the fair witness here, that we should get everybody involved, but we shouldn’t be dependent upon tax revenues, that we shouldn’t have a self-interest to the state. So we tried to make sure that all the tax revenue that came in was either used for the regulatory framework or was to accommodate and help compensate for the unintended consequences of more drug use.
  • We haven’t seen a spike in consumption. We haven’t seen the things we feared. By all means, at least for adult consumption, it’s part of our economy. People are paying taxes. There’s a payroll. There’s withholding taxes. It’s all within the structure of how our society works.
  • I think in terms of dealing with the tax issues, maybe we shouldn’t be lowering taxes; we should be fighting more aggressively to get 280E reformed so that they get the same deductions anybody else does.

Episode 396 – Congressman Earl Blumenauer

  • [The farm bill] represents a missed opportunity to be able to deal with the larger issues facing America and farmers, and the public, dealing with nutrition, dealing with being able to protect threatened agricultural communities, dealing with extreme weather events, Trump tariffs. We still pay too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong food, the wrong ways.
  • This is something that people are paying attention to, and we continue to have a bi-partisan coalition with our bi-partisan cannabis caucus that I think is prepared to move forward.
  • I am unequivocal there will never be an anti-cannabis successful candidate for president. It’s never going to happen. We’re going to watch more people embrace it, and understand it, and talk about it. We will continue to see more progress at the state and local level. There’s experimentation going on in terms of restorative justice, criminal justice reform.
  • If we are able to allow Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA to dispense legal, medical marijuana, it will be more effective for the conditions, there will be fewer overdose deaths, fewer people addicted, and we will save not billions, not tens of billions, we will save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Episode 397 – Congressman David Joyce

  • We prescribe opioids like they were candy. Why wouldn’t we give people the opportunity to have something that actually will take away their pain and make them feel better? The more I got involved and the more I’ve seen of it, the more I really think time has come.
  • Let the American public see the facts and hear the facts and understand that this is what the trade is. It’s not three guys in the woods. It’s not cocktails. It’s legitimate companies where people go to work every day happy, employed, and are part of their community. It’s going to continue to be a part of the community.
  • If we can at least have the hearings, STATES Act, and get those things ratified that we need so the businesses can continue to operate, so banks can continue to get to do their job and get involved and allow these businesses to have the necessary deductions and be treated like any other taxable corporation, then I think that’ll be a big move for us.

Episode 398 – Congressman Ro Khanna

  • It’s not just about legalizing marijuana, which is necessary for medical purposes and which is good for the economy. It’s a racial justice issue. Millions and millions of kids lose their future because they develop criminal records – if they’re black or brown, they develop these records, and if they’re white suburban kids, they don’t.
  • This is an issue like Medicare for all, like net neutrality, like the dreamers, like gun safety where 70% of the American public wants one thing and Washington isn’t doing that. And this is why people are frustrated, angry, enraged about the democratic process. It used to be that you thought democracy reflected public sentiment, and that just isn’t the case.
  • What we need to do is have all of the legislation for legalization, for expungement, for community investment of funds so that the developers in the marijuana industry are diverse. So it’s not just incumbents and that people of color also get to participate in the industry.

Episode 399 – Congressman Steve Cohen

  • I think we will have a much better chance at getting bills to the floor that can make it a state law and not a federal law, decriminalize it basically on the federal level, like alcohol, and leave it up to the states to decide whether or not it should be legalized in their jurisdictions for either medical or personal, quote unquote, recreational use.
  • There’s no reason this business should be any different than any other business, and particularly where it’s been legalized in quite a few states now.
  • Marijuana itself should not be on the controlled substances list anywhere. It should be, you know, it’s a Schedule I. It ought to be a Schedule 1,649.
  • The issue is going to be how we fund it. Trump wants to public-private partnerships. Put as little money in it as possible. That’s not going to work.

Episode 400 – Congressman Tom McClintock

  • Our laws have completely, utterly failed to keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and our laws have no business trying to regulate what grown adults choose to do with their lives.
  • These laws that we have in place, these prohibition laws, have accomplished exactly the same thing as the prohibition against alcohol did in the 1920s-30s. They have created a violent, illegal underground market, and the restrictions on banking simply compound that because they then require that all transactions be in cash, which creates an enormous magnet for armed robberies, as well as the lack of a paper trail for business regulation purposes.
  • What I hope would be accomplished would be, in Lincoln’s terms, a rebirth of freedom. That’s what we’ve been talking about on the cannabis issue. Freedom works. It’s time that we put it back to work, not just with respect to cannabis, with respect to every aspect of our economy and of our individual lives.
  • The debate that matters is the one that’s going on at Starbucks right now over coffee, over backyard fences, over family dinner tables. It’s an ongoing discussion of the American people over the future of their government. As those issues are resolved in that great debate out there among the American people, slowly it becomes reflected in the debate here. The debate here is simply a reflection of the debate that goes on every day among the American people. That’s what guides our country.

Episode 401 – Congressman Denny Heck

  • It just doesn’t make any sense in the world that we allow all of these establishments to be cash only […] There are credit unions and banks that are figuring out ways to do this. It’s expensive for the industry. They have to pay a premium for this, but there are plenty of banks and credit unions doing it.
  • Here are the two touchstones that I, as a member, believe in and do my best to subscribe to. Number one, always be civil. Number two, always look for common ground. If more people practiced both of those things more often, and I wish I practiced them both more often, then I think we’d be a lot better off.
  • My argument in favor of passage of Safe Banking Act really is predicated on this is common sense recognizing that reality out there that will make us safer. I’m surprised at those who are holding on so rigidly to the reefer madness perspective of the world, because what I say to them is: look, I get it, you vote no on legalizing marijuana. If that were in your state, you’d vote no. Maybe that was in your state, you vote no. If we had a vote here to de-schedule it, you’d vote no. I get that. But Safe Banking Access has nothing to do with that.

Episode 402 – Congressman Don Young

  • The loose cash causes much more harm than people realize. It creates more crimes. It actually affects the community.
  • If you watch in the Farm Bill now, […] we’re going to legalize the growing of hemp. And it’s going to be, I think, a godsend for a lot of agricultural areas because it’s not a new product. It grows well. And it’s going to be a new crop that we can use for a lot of things, and we have to buy now from Canada. And I’m just saying it’s a real step up.
  • Our nation will never be totally unified and there will always be differences of opinion. Right now we really don’t debate the issue. We’re not debating this cannabis issue. We don’t really try to solve problems, and you look at the votes on the floor and I’m thinking, “Why are we doing this?” It’s 100% Democrat or it’s 100% Republican. I unfortunately don’t think that we’re going to change that much. Remember, power is hard to give up.

Episode 403 – Congresswoman Dina Titus

  • VA doctors cannot recommend to veterans the use of medical marijuana. And that, I think we have to address […] especially for veterans where you have such a high opioid addiction problem. If you could use medical marijuana instead of just, “Here, take a pill for your pain,” I think we’d all be a lot better off.
  • We reached a tipping point where more states have come on board. You’ve got a new crop of Democrats who are young and progressive, and will be supportive. And I think you’ll see some of the Republicans, once it comes to the floor, be in favor of it. Because either their state has gone that way, or they’re in a district that would be more in favor.
  • You have to make the argument to people depending on where they’re coming from. Is it a tax issue? Is it a business issue? Is it a criminal justice issue? Is it a personal liberty issue? Different people see it in different ways. And the more we can make the argument across that whole spectrum, the better.
  • It’s never just one side of a story. You’ve got to look at all sides. That’s why compromise is not supposed to be a hanging crime like it has become and a sign of weakness. Compromise is how the system is supposed to work, and that’s how it was set up by the founding fathers. That’s why you had two houses. That’s why you had three branches. That’s why you had federalism, state, and local, all of that to lead towards compromise.

Episode 404 – Congressman Darren Soto

  • So why we should [put forward bills to allow for the VA hospital and other hospitals to start utilizing medical cannabis]: one, it’s the right thing to do and it’s been well established, at least by many outside sources – universities and the like – of the medical properties of cannabis. It could help with PTSD, and there’s a lot of studies outside of that. This would not only help our veterans, but allow for official federal government studies that may be more persuasive to some of my colleagues who may be more reticent on the issue.
  • We haven’t had those types of physical addictions or side effects with cannabis […] So if there is a better way, or potentially even a better way, we should be pursuing it and not let antiquated taboos get in the way.
  • I’m a big believer that if you have served your time and paid your fines, you should have your rights restored automatically. So certainly that is something I disagree with overall. I plan to vote for the farm bill for many other reasons, but that’s something that is unfinished business that we’ll have to readdress. Particularly when you look at how marijuana laws are changing, you could have had someone who had the expertise who before a law was changed was committing a misdemeanor or a felony that now is conducting a wholly legal business.
  • We have more than half the states I think, at this point, that have legalized medical cannabis, including Florida. So I think if you take all their delegations, and knowing that at least some of them may be opposed, there really is a potential workable majority.

Episode 405 – Senator Cory Gardner

  • When The Cole Memorandum gets reversed, repealed, overturned, I immediately called Jeff Sessions and […] the attorney general said, “Well this really isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t really…I don’t think anybody’s going to even notice that we did this.”
  • We’re sitting there trying to find a solution, you know, who’s going to do what. Ron Wyden and Kirsten Gillibrand were there, and Maria Cantwell and Steve Daines and others were there. Senator Warren talks about this: “Hey, what about looking at this not from a standpoint of schedules or legalization, but looking at this from if a state has done it, letting the state do it?” That’s kind of the genesis of how we moved forward with it, and her saying that there was in line with what we had talked about with the president.
  • I think [the States Act] is great in its simplicity, but in a town full of lobbyists, they really freak out about simple things because they look at it saying, “Well how do we justify this? Are you certain that is has the tax provisions taken care of? Are you certain that it has the banking issues taken care of?” Because they’re used to having everything being prescribed. Our response is, “When it says that it no longer applies, it no longer applies, which means that yes the banking issue has been taken care of and yes the taxation issues have been taken care of.” So instead of having a 60 or 70 page bill, you have just a sentence or two that gets the job done in an area that has been just a quagmire to try to get out of.
  • This isn’t some kind of a fly by night dude on the corner kind of thing. This is actually a real business that is structured that wants involvement, that wants to be regulated to the point that other businesses are.

Episode 406 – Lori Ajax, CA Bureau of Cannabis Control

  • The worst thing we could do is not to listen to what people say. Not listening at what’s affecting their businesses. I think that’s the advice I’d give any state or country looking to regulate, is that you can’t do it on your own. You need to work with the industry.
  • I think from the bureau’s standpoint, one of the things you’re going to see this next year is our launching our public awareness campaign, which is really focused on driving the consumer to the licensed market, and doing a better job of messaging that. Along with also making sure the illegal market knows that they have to get licensed if they’re going to continue to operate in California.
  • I think what’s sometimes frustrating for the industry is [that] we have to look at it as a whole. What’s best for the industry. We can’t just look at hey what’s best for a dispensary, or what’s best for a distributor. We have to look at it as a whole.
  • The advantage of [having the state and local license] is that I think there’s some checks and balances for us. We know that they have met all the requirements at the local before we can even issue a license. I think that doesn’t put all the pressure on the state to make sure you’re getting it right, you have your local partner that you’re working with.

Episode 407 – Tjalling Erkelens, Bedrocan

  • The Netherlands actually has one of the oldest medicinal cannabis programs […] one of the oldest, let’s say, semi-legal recreational programs running for more than 40 years now – the so-called coffee shop system, which is totally separated. So it is the aim of the Dutch government to keep those things fully separated as well. That is kind of different as towards what is happening in other countries.
  • Germany is one of those changing its game. Italy is changing its game. Finland, not so much, but we see other Scandinavian countries, basically all Scandinavian countries are coming online. Interesting to see where all those programs initially were compassionate-use programs where patients in a very difficult process were finally then allowed access to cannabis. Sometimes it took months for patients. Now we see a full-blown system.
  • Everybody in the EU is doing things differently in the end. Everybody has this own, little unique niche in whatever they do.
  • [2019] will be the year where more politicians will come to their senses, start to understand that this is not something that will fade away or will go away in whatever sense. This is something that is here to stay, and we need to actually embrace it rather than push it away because you cannot push it away. It’s everywhere in the world. It’s happening not only in Europe, it’s happening of course in North America […] it starts to happen in Asia right now as we speak. It’s starting to happen in Africa. So basically on all continents these things are happening.

Episode 408 – Kris Krane, 4Front Ventures

  • Who those conferees are […] becomes the most important decision when it comes to getting marijuana reform passed this year because, if we get it passed, it’s going to be just in the House, and we’ve got to get this thing done through conference committees.
  • The reality is we now have a chamber that’s going to pass meaningful reform. We have a president who said that he would sign meaningful reform. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter because, remember, if you do this through a gigantic spending bill, the president’s not going to veto a giant spending bill that’s been agreed to by both parties in conference committee because of some little marijuana provision.
  • You will breed so much more brand loyalty if you actually have conversations with your customers, and teach them about the products, and try and gear them toward something that, based on your conversation, you think that they will enjoy.

Episode 409 – Mitch Baruchowitz, Merida Capital

  • Too many business operators who are newer vintage often don’t give credit to the shoulders that they’re standing on […] These are people who have done incredible things and don’t get the credit for innovating and bringing a lot of opportunity because they kind of burnt the old fields so that new crops could be grown on those ashes.
  • Everyone in the world only talks about their wins. I say to people I’ve always failed forward. You’re going to lose some and win some. This has become a full-out process.
  • Real governance, to me, isn’t something that we have the right person. It’s what those people are doing. The real job of a governance-focused investor is to steward the board. It means getting involved. It means actually proactively asking questions.
  • You can’t guarantee a result, but if you bring governance, if you bring honesty, and transparency, and integrity, and all those things, you’re more likely to have a better result.

Episode 410 – Roei Zerahia, Canndoc

  • In Israel, since 2008, medical cannabis was allowed to be distributed to patients, but in order to do so, the patient needed to get a license. Not a prescription, a license. This is a very unique method.
  • Now we know that THC and CBD are very important, but they are not enough because we need to understand what is the level of CBN, CBC, CBG. We need to understand what is the ratio between them […] we found out that if you are taking a PTSD patient and cancer patient and Parkinson’s patient, even if you give all of them the same THC and the same CBD levels, you need to understand also what else you have inside.
  • You cannot say I’m treating cancer. There are so many different cancers. There are so many different pain problems, but we need to get to a point we are minimizing it for a specific symptom because we want to make sure that what they’re thinking is exactly what we are getting.

Episode 411 – Neal Levine, Cannabis Trade Federation

  • When we drafted the first wave of these laws, when you’re effecting that sort of change, you have to be very conservative if you want it passed. So, there were all these restrictions to keep “bad actors” out of the system that has led to a bunch of laws that […] tapped into a system that targets communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, excluded from the industry. That was never the intent; the intent was just to pass a law. But now that’s one big thing that we’ve learned. We need to fix that, and that’s a really important thing for our industry. So, it wasn’t by design, but by structure that we do not have a very diverse industry, and that’s something we absolutely have to address.
  • There is another lesson from the State by State is that high taxes help to get the initiatives passed. And now, when you combine them with 2ADE, they are greatly hindering businesses.
  • If we don’t all pull together, if we don’t unify, if we don’t pull resources, if we don’t have a seat at the table, we’re going to be on the menu. And we’re too small and we’re too young to hold our weight with some of these other folks that are in D.C. and well established. So, it’s our goal, it’s our responsibility to punch above our weight while we hold that ground because STATES Act is just the beginning; after STATES Act we are going to see a flood of regulation. And that’s just inevitable.

Episode 412 – Jeannette Horton, NuLeaf

  • Portland is the first city to invest money in the communities most disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs to invest cannabis tax money […] it’s important that every city, every state make that kind of commitment with their cannabis tax dollars. This multi-billion dollar industry is profiting in tax dollars a lot of police forces, and it needs to be being reinvested in those communities most economically devastated by the war on drugs.
  • You could say this money is going to go to expungements, or this money is going to go to job training, and this money is going to go to funding businesses, and then when you look around, people have good intentions, but the businesses and the people that got benefited from those funds ended up being white.
  • The data says that women and minorities get capital in any industry, far fewer than rates than white people, white owned businesses. But that’s not pure capitalism, that’s capitalism with a layer of prejudice and racial bias.

Episode 413 – Cy Scott, Headset

  • You know, when we think about the cannabis industry and one of the things that’s so exciting about it is that we’re building a new industry for a product that’s always had demand, but just hasn’t really had an industry built up around it.
  • I think it would be great to see [the industry maturing more] in the US, and I think that, you know, there are some organizations that are pushing at the federal level that are lobbying, but I think that we could do a lot better.
  • I think once [a change at the federal level happens] – and it’s inevitable it will, it’s just kind of ‘when.’ Then, I think, you know, we can accelerate everything more; more capital will come into the space, and it will give operators more opportunity to kind of scale up and continue to normalize.

Episode 414 – Joel Milton, Baker

  • The big lesson is to measure and set goals and define what you’re going to measure beforehand […] Measure everything […] It’s all about data. All about measurements and setting goals for yourself and tracking them over time.
  • Back then it was all kind of guess and check […] there were no real, good aggregated lists of businesses. This show was very, very different than it is now. So I think it’s in that sense, it’s easier now, but at the same time there’s also a ton more competition. Right? If Baker were to start today, we’d be one of a dozen guys offering some of our services and we’d be competing with everyone else.
  • Don’t guard your ideas. There’s very little under the sun that hasn’t been thought of, it’s about execution. It’s how do you build that business and execute on your vision? So tell a lot of people and talk about it and get feedback and talk to clients and don’t be scared to get hard feedback. You don’t want to just sit in a lab and build your dream idea for six months and then show it to your first client and they’re like, “well this isn’t want I want.”
  • Execute one thing. Do it well. Get in the hands of a bunch of people and then move on. You can’t try to boil the ocean.

Episode 415 – US Congressman Seth Moulton

  • A lot of veterans are suffering a lot of veterans are struggling with post-traumatic stress, they’re struggling with physical, mental injuries from their service overseas. And my bottom line is very simple. We should be giving veterans the best healthcare in the world, period. That’s it, no exceptions, no caveats, best healthcare in the world – period.
  • Many [veterans] are choosing [cannabis] not only because it works, but because they don’t want to get addicted to opioids. They don’t want to get involved in other sorts of medicines. They don’t want to just down the bottles and bottles of pills that the VA gives them that have all sorts of side effects.
  • The VA should be out there prescribing cannabis if it’s something that helps veterans. But it’s the bureaucrats in Washington, it’s really my colleagues in Congress who won’t pass these bills to get it done. So these are reforms where it does matter who is in the Oval Office. It does matter who’s in Congress. You’re going to have people who are going to push for reform at the VA or you’re going to have people who just let it go and continue with its bureaucratic bungles.
  • I think the best leaders are just willing to stand up for their principles. And they not only have the physical courage that’s celebrated, especially in the military, but they have real moral courage to do the right thing, no matter what the circumstance.

Episode 416 – US Congressman Thomas Massie

  • [I’ve proposed a change to] the underlying law, so that cannabis use does not disqualify you from owning or carrying a gun, or even ammunition.
  • Then the FDA is going to come in and define what organic cannabis means. That’s when we’ve arrived, when the federal government and all of its tentacles are fully in it, and there’s some kind of tax.
  • The third question I asked surprised me a lot. And that was: regardless of whether you think it should be legal here right now, are you in favor of federal prohibition or should states decide? Three quarters of Democrats said states decide, 85% of Independents said states decide, and three quarters of Republicans said, “Let states decides.” There was no difference between Democrats and Republicans.
  • Even though I don’t stick my finger in the wind to decide how to vote, you cannot vote in opposition to your constituents. It’s not what you’re elected to do.

Episode 417 – Ben Kovler, GTI

  • Whereas tobacco companies bought alcohol companies in the late ‘60s, we think alcohol companies and other kinds of businesses will buy cannabis companies in the 2020s.
  • I think you can say, for sure, all the way through 2018, no U.S. listed company would invest in U.S. cannabis, and you’re starting to see the beginnings. It’s only the beginning of 2019, where it’s getting more murky, and so I think we’re at the place where it’s going to become a worldwide cannabis market, and you need to be thinking about that.
  • The reality is the compliance officers, the bank officers are still reluctant. You’re seeing that in the bid, you’re seeing that in the research, you’re seeing that in U.S. banking relationships that are precluded, regardless of what it says. So, the momentum is set up for this providing that clarity.
  • At the core, I believe opportunity is the way out, and if we can maintain equality of opportunity across our communities, we can offer people an equal chance.

Episode 418 – Charlie Bachtel, Cresco Labs

  • The mission of our company, which I think speaks to the industry as a whole, is to normalize and professionalize the cannabis space. That was the opportunity that we saw, and that was the aspect that we thought we could bring something to that conversation.
  • Sure, [the market is] competitive, but it’s incredibly collaborative, and I think that’s what surprises a lot of people that aren’t necessarily in the highly regulated markets. We all have to get along, we all have to do this together.
  • Through our efforts and through the natural progression of the way people think about cannabis, we were able to get a very conservative, Republican governor to understand the importance of the role of cannabis in fighting an opiate epidemic. That’s pretty transformative.
  • I’ve never been a part of an industry before that can create as many win-win-wins as cannabis can. If you do things the right way here, all of the stakeholders involved can succeed. The general public, the actual customers, the administration that passes the law, and the operators. There’s a very unique ability to create great scenarios for all involved if you do it the right way.