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.
Dr. Rachel Knox returns and as a commissioner on the Oregon Cannabis Commission. Medical Marijuana has been in existence since 1998 in Oregon and was originally overseen by the Health Authority. With the onset of Adult Use cannabis in the state, Oregon’s Governor Brown sought to ensure that the medical marijuana program was well structured and well run and at the forefront of cannabis research, so she developed the Commission to oversee it. She looked for capable and committed folks like Rachel and two other doctors, a patient representative, and regulators from both the Health Authority and from the OLCC who oversee adult use. The goal is to ensure that the program is robust, features patient advocacy and is focused on further research in Oregon.
Recorded on the day of the Cole & Ogden Memo’s rescission, Jonathan Blanks from the Cato Institute joins us and shares that from his vantage point, the Sessions Memo reverses a very sane practice of limiting the federal government’s power to intervene in state legal cannabis. In his words “the people of Colorado think we’ve spent too much money, wasted too much energy and jailed entirely too many people for smoking marijuana, so we’re not gonna do it any more, the federal government shouldn’t come in and interfere with that." So that puts us in a place where the voters asked for legal cannabis but instead of tax dollars from that industry going back to building that community, that communities tax dollars are being used in enforcement against the very will of we the people.
Dot Colagiovanni joins us and shares that she’s got a PhD in toxicology which she put to use in the biotech industry for 20 years until she became disillusioned with the FDA working slowly but also hedge funds coming in to biotech and driving decision making as opposed to the science. She wanted to bring medicine to market sooner at the same time as her son had to have a liver transplant. During the wait to find a liver, Dot wanted to be present and so she and she alone self medicated with cannabis after her son went to bed. She had never utilized cannabis medically and she says, cannabis helped her cope. She put two and two together and realized the cannabis industry was where she needed to be.
Comedy duo...and twins, the Lucas Brothers join us and share that there was an easy transition from being quiet off stage to being quiet onstage. Kenny and Keith were on their way to being lawyers until they realized that they hated it. And of course stand-up comedy was the next best option. From Newark, NJ which they pronounce like Pork…from Newark they separated for the only time going to Duke and NYU respectively which precipitated them coming back together and staying that way. As it’s said, comedians are today’s philosophers so we find our way to discussing the relationship of women to men and vice versa. We discuss how economics and race have played into our current global geopolitical construct. And we do discuss thoughts on the proliferation, growth and acceptance of cannabis.
Debby Goldsberry returns to discuss California and the rescission of the Cole & Ogden Memos. She notes that AG "Sessions knows the toothpaste is out of the tube, marijuana will be legalized, prohibition will end nationally, it might take us another 20, 30 years to do it but we’re going to get there- he might want to try to turn back time a little bit, but his time is limited. We’re going to keep moving forward. Every single thing that he did only empowered us more, to do more advocacy, to change laws faster and more furious and to get where we need to go.” That said she also mentions that “we were getting too soft, we were forgetting how to be advocates we were starting to sell marijuana as though we had attained freedom when in fact we’re far from where we need to be.” The two-sides of the coin from a lifetime activist.
With the Capitol Corridor train in the background and a very personal point up front, Julianna Carella returns to discuss Auntie Dolores and Treatibles. In the wake of California’s new regulations, she’ll be shuttering Auntie Dolores edibles to focus on Treatibles exclusively. Julianna certainly understands and appreciates the two steps forward, one step back reality of legal cannabis, but at this moment in time she has evaluated other realities- slim margins on high-end edibles and the raid preparedness nature of California dispensaries. With those points, adding potency and serving size requirements in the new regulations make continuing with edibles untenable for her. That said, hempCBDbased Treatibles certainly lives on.
Aaron Justis returns to share that he feels the rescission of the Cole & Ogden memos will not result in disruption. He notes that giant state government agencies are involved, politicians up and down the state of California had a strong response that they would keep regulating and keep taxing legal cannabis. And of course, other states like Colorado had vociferous responses from the State Attorney General stating that she would defend state legal businesses to Republican Senator Cory Gardner raising his voice from the floor of the US Senate insisting on protecting state legal cannabis despite the fact that he didn’t initially support it. Aaron also notes the fact that ultimately it would come down to jurors convicting state legal cannabis and legal cannabis has overwhelming support.
Steve DeAngelo returns to discuss California since new regulations went into affect on January 1st, and his thoughts on the rescission of the Cole Memos which happened January 4th. Steve does commend the Bureau of Cannabis Control for hitting the 1/1 date as it did go more smoothly than he expected. That said, Steve notes that the real hard work happens now- between 1/1 and 7/1 as July 1st is the set date for temporary regulations and licenses to end and the new reality to begin. On the rescission of the Cole & Ogden Memos, Steve says he wasn’t surprised. But he says that a key part of any US Attorney’s job is to survey the totality of lawbreaking that’s happening in their district and identify that lawbreaking which is the greatest public safety threat and focus on it.
Former Deputy Attorney General of the United States and author of the Cole Memo’s James M. Cole returns to discuss the rescission of the Cole Memos and the Ogden Memo before it. We discuss the thought process behind creating each of the three memos, his first in 2011, the second in 2013 and the final memo released in concert with FinCen guidance on Valentine’s Day 2014. Now that the memos have been rescinded the state of legal cannabis is dictated by the Rohrabacher Blumenaur Amendment for medical cannabis. For adult-use cannabis, it’s now up to US attorneys stationed where adult-use cannabis has been passed. Central California which includes Los Angeles and San Diego and Northern California which includes the Bay Area both have new Attorney’s which have been appointed by AG Sessions.
Fresh off the Constellation Brands deal, Bruce Linton joins us and shares that one of the things that he has to do is look at other sectors. So he’s been watching alcohol, tobacco and Pharma- looking at structures and public statements. The only company in the alcohol space that seemed to be forecasting an interest in cannabis was Constellation. Bruce and his team reached out to figure out how to make it happen and found a company with an entrepreneurial spirit with a likeminded approach. For his part, Bruce see’s the producer of Corona Beer as a beverage manufacturer. He notes that whenever and wherever there’s a market for non-medical cannabis beverages any where in the world- Constellation is with whom Canopy Growth will be working.
Debby Goldsberry joins us to discuss raid preparedness. Debby has been in the industry since before it was an industry and highlights what she and her team are used to doing. These are principles which the entire industry used to do back before Colorado and Washington legalized adult-use cannabis. Since then, the industry has been operating under the guidance of the Cole Memos. Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memos yesterday. Incidentally, the 10th amendment reads: The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.
Recorded in Las Vegas at MJ Biz Con in November, Charlie Rutherford returns for Political Discourse IV. At the time the tax bill being debated came under the guise of tax reform. We now know that it became simply a tax cut. We discuss the benefit of corporate taxes coming down while unpacking the short-term middle-class tax cuts resulting in those middle-class taxes actually going up over a 10 year period. We discuss killing the State and Local income tax or SALT deduction and it’s effects. We discuss the realities facing the Reagan tax cuts- corporate profits being low and interest rates being high- the opposite of the current economic reality. We talk about that economic reality as a playing field for We The People. And we discuss the definition of a free market.
Adam Bierman joins us and lays out his priorities for 2018, those being money, markets and the mainstreaming of the industry. On the money side, he certainly noticed the Constellation Brands deal in Canada (it was of course precluded from happening here in the United States). On markets the Medmen fund investing in Canada in MedReleaf went better than expected. On mainstreaming cannabis. They’ve got 6 retail shops in Southern California which Adam sees as the biggest cannabis market in the world. He’s working with the stores and educating the public on the new reality on the ground as of January 1st. And to that end, on mainstreaming, he’s exposing Medmen and legal cannabis to a whole new market with pride and responsibility.
Jmichaele Keller returns to tell his personal cannabis story. Going back, he had cut out carbohydrates from his diet completely. But substantially increased travel had those carbs wade their way back into his daily plan. Which led to him finding himself in the emergency room. Over the past couple of years he’s been to the hospital four times. The reason for these visits was due to a GI “adventure” as he calls it which has him living in a constant state of inflammation. He had found that CBD solves this problem. He found a product that worked for him, but he didn’t have that product on the road which leads to what he calls an attack where his stomach becomes distended. On top of that attack, his body rejected CBD product which it turns out was not well tested.