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.
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.