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Ep.218: State Senator Elizabeth Krueger & Aaron Smith

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.218: State Senator Elizabeth Krueger & Aaron Smith

Ep.218: State Senator Elizabeth Krueger & Aaron Smith

New York State Senator Liz Krueger & Aaron Smith, NCIA
New York State Senator Liz Krueger joins us to share her thoughts on the fact that we the people have a civic duty that extends beyond simply voting. Senator Krueger shares how very seriously she takes constituents that make their voices heard to her. She plainly states that if you are in her district and can vote for her…or worse, against her- she will listen to your point of view. Senator Krueger then shares exactly what’s in her adult-use bill for New York State and where we stand on the timeline of getting it passed. But first Aaron Smith returns to share the fact that priorities did indeed need to change based on the incoming administration. Whereas initially there was hope to move the ball forward, the plan now is to not cede any ground in the effort to legalize cannabis.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: State senator Liz Krueger and Aaron Smith, New York state senator Liz Krueger joins us to share her thoughts on the fact that we, the people have a civic duty that extends beyond simply voting. Senator Kerger shares how she very seriously takes constituents that make their voices heard turn. She plainly states that if you're in her district and can vote for her or worse against her, she will listen to your point of view. Senator Krueger then shares exactly what's in her adult use bill for New York state and where we stand on the timeline of getting it passed, but first Aaron Smith returns to share the fact that priorities did indeed beat to change based on the incoming administration, whereas initially the results to move the ball forward to plan now is to not see any ground in the effort to legalize cannabis. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy. That's two ends and the word economy, state senator to Liz Krueger and Aaron Smith.

Speaker 3: Aaron Smith, the NCIA. Welcome back, my friend. How are you?

Speaker 4: Great, thanks. Thanks for having me, Seth. It's always a pleasure.

Speaker 3: Absolutely. Happy New Year. Did you get to go away at all or

Speaker 4: some little bit of r and r between the Christmas and New Year's and amped up and ready to go for 2017 now.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So 2017. Here we go. I know that, uh, of course there's always a plan. How much of a wrench, um, did this, uh, kind of change at the top? In other words, I think everybody, no matter your political stripes felt, uh, you know, the presidential election was going to go one way and obviously went another. Um, how much did that change? You know, what you're doing, what effect did that have on the past month and a half and next month and a half before he actually hit hit your stride in 2017.

Speaker 4: Me Or organizations by surprise. It did. And we did have to readjust our priorities here and this, especially here in the short term. While we were anticipating coming into an administration that were, it was a given that the Cole memo would remain in place, which is the Department of Justice memorandum issued in 2013 that essentially laid out some guidelines for what state legal marijuana business, uh, needs to do in order to, uh, run, not run afoul of federal law enforcement and, um, that, that memo is absolutely critical for our industry. Uh, and because of the new administration, and not because there's any necessarily opposition from trump, but because there's so much uncertainty, uh, are now our number one priority is preserving the Cole memo. Uh, if it, if Clinton was the next president, uh, it's probably the number one priority would have remained a banking reform and, you know, to eat,

Speaker 3: but instead we're, you know, let's keep the ground that we've gotten as far as the sessions' confirmation hearing, you know, key takeaways from that. I, I kinda got the sense of I'm not going to go crazy, uh, although I'm not necessarily going to do nothing. So I'm somewhere in the middle, uh, which is, uh, which is not great.

Speaker 4: It was pretty vague answers out there, the sessions hearing what was most important takeaway is what he didn't say. Somebody, you know, somebody who is well known to saying things like, good people don't use marijuana. A staunch opponent of, of marijuana reform could come into that hearing to a fully Republican controlled committee chaired by Senator Grassley, who was also staunchly opposed to cannabis policy reform. Indeed, he could've, he could've put a big smile on the chairman safe by saying, I'm going to reverse the Obama policy and we're going to crack down on this, on this marijuana industry. Uh, and he didn't say anything like that at all. You know, he kept very vague. Uh, he said that the Cole memo actually had provided some value and was helpful to the DOJ, uh, on one hand. And then on the other hand, he did say what, uh, you know, with every attorney general nominee by the way has said, which is that it's not the doj job to make laws.

Speaker 1: State senator Liz Krueger and Aaron Smith, New York state senator Liz Krueger joins us to share her thoughts on the fact that we, the people have a civic duty that extends beyond simply voting. Senator Kerger shares how she very seriously takes constituents that make their voices heard turn. She plainly states that if you're in her district and can vote for her or worse against her, she will listen to your point of view. Senator Krueger then shares exactly what's in her adult use bill for New York state and where we stand on the timeline of getting it passed, but first Aaron Smith returns to share the fact that priorities did indeed beat to change based on the incoming administration, whereas initially the results to move the ball forward to plan now is to not see any ground in the effort to legalize cannabis. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy. That's two ends and the word economy, state senator to Liz Krueger and Aaron Smith.

Speaker 3: Aaron Smith, the NCIA. Welcome back, my friend. How are you?

Speaker 4: Great, thanks. Thanks for having me, Seth. It's always a pleasure.

Speaker 3: Absolutely. Happy New Year. Did you get to go away at all or

Speaker 4: some little bit of r and r between the Christmas and New Year's and amped up and ready to go for 2017 now.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So 2017. Here we go. I know that, uh, of course there's always a plan. How much of a wrench, um, did this, uh, kind of change at the top? In other words, I think everybody, no matter your political stripes felt, uh, you know, the presidential election was going to go one way and obviously went another. Um, how much did that change? You know, what you're doing, what effect did that have on the past month and a half and next month and a half before he actually hit hit your stride in 2017.

Speaker 4: Me Or organizations by surprise. It did. And we did have to readjust our priorities here and this, especially here in the short term. While we were anticipating coming into an administration that were, it was a given that the Cole memo would remain in place, which is the Department of Justice memorandum issued in 2013 that essentially laid out some guidelines for what state legal marijuana business, uh, needs to do in order to, uh, run, not run afoul of federal law enforcement and, um, that, that memo is absolutely critical for our industry. Uh, and because of the new administration, and not because there's any necessarily opposition from trump, but because there's so much uncertainty, uh, are now our number one priority is preserving the Cole memo. Uh, if it, if Clinton was the next president, uh, it's probably the number one priority would have remained a banking reform and, you know, to eat,

Speaker 3: but instead we're, you know, let's keep the ground that we've gotten as far as the sessions' confirmation hearing, you know, key takeaways from that. I, I kinda got the sense of I'm not going to go crazy, uh, although I'm not necessarily going to do nothing. So I'm somewhere in the middle, uh, which is, uh, which is not great.

Speaker 4: It was pretty vague answers out there, the sessions hearing what was most important takeaway is what he didn't say. Somebody, you know, somebody who is well known to saying things like, good people don't use marijuana. A staunch opponent of, of marijuana reform could come into that hearing to a fully Republican controlled committee chaired by Senator Grassley, who was also staunchly opposed to cannabis policy reform. Indeed, he could've, he could've put a big smile on the chairman safe by saying, I'm going to reverse the Obama policy and we're going to crack down on this, on this marijuana industry. Uh, and he didn't say anything like that at all. You know, he kept very vague. Uh, he said that the Cole memo actually had provided some value and was helpful to the DOJ, uh, on one hand. And then on the other hand, he did say what, uh, you know, with every attorney general nominee by the way has said, which is that it's not the doj job to make laws.

Speaker 3: Yeah. You guys make the laws. I just enforce them.

Speaker 4: Yeah. And that's honestly, that's a correct interpretation of constitutional interpretation of the job. Right. Uh, what, what, what wasn't said was that there is prosecutorial discretion, you know, like a, a police officer doesn't spend their day, you know, prosecuting or arresting people for every single fraction they see in somebody spits on the ground because it will be a waste of their resources. And in the same way the Department of Justice, uh, has been prioritizing their limited resources, uh, in such a way that they have, for the most part left state legal operators alone and I need that needs to continue into the next administration. You're, I'm cautiously optimistic that it will, but not a, it's not definitely not certain in the industry. They need to understand that and continue to, to increase the resources that are being put into the federal lobbying efforts.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And, and, and to that end, as far as not seeding the ground that we have, you know, as we make our way further into a 2017, you and I are talking in January, um, you know, what, what if folks need to know about, uh, what Ncia is doing explicitly to make sure that we hold our grant.

Speaker 4: Yes. So we, you know, we have really been putting the message out there to members of the Senate as well as the trump transition team and session, uh, that our industry has effectively replace criminal markets in, in a number of states and now eight states for marijuana, which has not, not only put criminal actors out of business, uh, but has created jobs and generated millions and millions in tax revenue that, you know, that, that coming after, say for example, a state like Oregon or Washington to go after merit know state licensed marijuana businesses in those states, in those states is not an attack on marijuana so much as it is an attack on the state that the state agencies ever but rely on the revenue from those businesses. Um, so we've, we've launched a campaign, for example, a called we are the cannabis industry. We are the cannabis industry.com and it's profiling it's profiling in employees in the cannabis industry throughout different sectors across the country, uh, and really telling their stories. And we have a paid advertising on a DC DC based publications like political throughout these last two weeks and will continue to get that message out by really humanizing this and showing that, you know, there, you know, for example, one of these employees as a manufacturing employee from afar for a factory in Ohio that no downsides to move jobs to China. He lost his job. He ended up getting a job working a at an extraction many equipment company and has put his fabrication skills to work there are industry.

Speaker 3: I have a good idea of what, what company that is by the way, but a neither here nor there. Um, yeah. So He, you know, uh, first off I'm a person, second off, I have a job in the cannabis industry, please don't take it away from me.

Speaker 4: Right? And so we, you know, continue to get that message out there to Republican senators especially who have been interviewing a senator sessions. And we'll ultimately, ultimately the senate will, will confirm him and we do take the approach by the way that he is, is getting confirmed. And that's not, you know, so we're not, you won't see us out there telling people to spend their wheels to oppose his confirmation because we anticipate, you know, like it or not, uh, that we will be working with him and develop the best relationship with his, uh, with the Department of Justice, uh, under his watch.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I, I, you know, I'm starting to kind of take the same, you know, approach here, which is, this is happening. The folks that are being nominated for the most part are going to get confirmed. Let's kind of get our ducks in a row and put our energy forward as opposed to, uh, you know, um, backward.

Speaker 4: That's right. It's all you can do is keep moving forward. And it's for a historical perspective. You know, this, this industry was born under extremely hostile department of Justice, uh, and, and administration during the Bush years, we saw rates depart a deal that tea, we're rating dispensary's throughout California at or near weekly basis. Um, people were being prosecuted for medical cannabis and that was the industry still continue to exponentially grow during that time. And also during that time, there were no state regulation and they were there, these were businesses operating in the gray area. Now all of the states, uh, all 28 states with some form of marijuana industry, they're all tightly regulated and there are state agencies relying upon tax revenue from those industries. So we had never been such an integral part of the legitimate economy as we are now. I think that even if the worst case scenario plays out, which I don't think it will under the trump administration, but even if it did, our industry has a staying power and it will continue to grow.

Speaker 3: We are weaved into the fabric whether you like it or not.

Speaker 4: That's right. And that's, uh, we, we are becoming a more and more an integral part of the economy in those states that have cannabis industries and we'll see that continue to grow. Uh, and then another thing to note is that marijuana will remain legal possession, personal possession, and in these eight states, regardless of what the DOJ doesn't, that's a really important message that we are putting out to them is that you very will be legal for adults to consume period because the doj doesn't, doesn't go after individual consumers if they go after the supply side of the equation, all that does is leave the individual consumers with the option of growing their own or going to the black market. And oftentimes the black market, uh, is, uh, dominated by violent drug cartels. And so that the, you know, the cat's out of the bag really on this. And the people certainly I think sent a mandate, uh, in November in the election that, you know, there were two mandates. One was that they just won't change. So that, I don't know if I would call a mandate since he didn't win the popular vote. But that's an aside. But you know, when you see a state like Florida goes 70 percent for medical marijuana and all, and also vote for trump, that's really remarkable. And they take notice of that.

Speaker 3: Well, like we like to say, no matter if you're a democrat or Republican, cannabis gets more votes than you. So that's, that's how it is as far as, uh, you know, supporting a Ncia I'm sure most folks that are listening are already members. Um, but as far as membership, as far as donations to, to kind of help support what you guys are doing, where should we push folks?

Speaker 4: Uh, well, if you can visit our website, the cannabis industry, or it's really easy to sign up as a member. We have three different membership tiers. A visit the cannabis industry dot or check out the different benefits of membership, uh, enjoying today.

Speaker 3: There you go. And as far as the ringer, Steve Fox and his work, uh, what, what's the latest on, uh, on where he's going and what he's doing?

Speaker 4: So yeah, really happy to roll this out this year, which is NCI as policy council. And Steve is the director of the Policy Council. What we're doing is we're working in collaboration with a key leaders within the industry to develop model marijuana regulations that will ultimately be advocated for the federal level. You know, we, we have, you know, we've been in advancing the concept that a candidate needs to be legal and regulated for years, but we haven't actually gotten to the point where the issue was taken seriously enough to have an actual model regulations of work that, what cannabis control of the federal level should look like. So Steve is heading up the NCI policy council working on model regulations in development of that from the very broad, you know, whether candidates should be treated like alcohol or like an herbal supplement or something else to down to the granular issues like pesticides in advertising and marketing and testing standards and those sorts of things.

Speaker 3: Love it. That's the right guy for the job. I'll tell you,

Speaker 4: you know, Steve and I, uh, probably started this association back in 2010 when it was really kind of seemed like a pipe dream some because there, there was very little actual industry out there. But you know, we seem to be especially really had the vision and saw that this was going to grow into a multibillion dollar industry quickly and it needed to be represented at the federal level, just like any other.

Speaker 3: That's it. Alright. The cannabis industry.org, that's where to go to support. And Aaron, I guess as a final question, we'll ask you the same final question as we usually do, whether it's the same answer or not is up to you on the soundtrack of your life named one track, one song that's got to be on there. I know you've got a very specific, um, and good. A musical interest. So, uh, anything of top of mind as far as a song for your soundtrack?

Speaker 4: Uh, just say revolution by the Beatles.

Speaker 3: Oh, see that. You went old school. I hear Ya. That's fantastic. You say you want a revolution, Aaron? Well, you know, that's fantastic. Uh, Aaron Smith. Thank you so much. Keep going. Keep doing what you're doing. Uh, you know, get some rest whenever you can. And I'm sure I'll see you sooner than later.

Speaker 5: Always a pleasure.

Speaker 1: This episode is supported by Brandon branch. Brenda branch provides intellectual property legal services with a focus on the cannabis industry. Shabnam Malik and Amanda Conley Founded Brenda branch in 2015 to provide nimble cost effective intellectual property services, brand new branches, proud to offer high quality services with flexible billing arrangements including flat fees and monthly subscription plans to meet the needs of early and mid stage companies. Branded branch helps companies with branding, creative content and compliance. Go to brandon branch.com/can economy for more detail.

Speaker 6: I am the state Senator for the 28th district on the east side and some of midtown Manhattan. That makes you my stepson. Yes, I've learned. I'm your state senator. I appreciate your, uh, your work, your effort. When I walked in. Justin, your colleague, if you will, so that you weren't on the phone. And I said, that's great. That's exactly where we want you doing stuff. That's right. Not eating caviar and a civic, a champagne or whatever. So anyway, um, uh, thank you so much for, uh, for having me in. What I want to talk most about is the process of government and where the process of government and we, the people need, because no matter what your political stripes are, it's probable that you are aware that the civic duty that we all have probably extends past building.

Speaker 7: What are your thoughts on that? First? I was so glad when you said that as an introductory statement because part of the challenge of being an elected official everyday of the year is helping to explain to people. You get the government you asked for. Okay, so if you don't ask much of your government, you're probably not gonna get that much from us. If you say, I don't care about government and I don't vote, or I don't really watch who I vote for, I can say, well good that I can completely ignore whatever you care about because you just told me you're not going to affect my job, so bye. Have a lovely life. Right? If you tell me, I'm watching really closely, I'm expecting you to do a BC. I want answers to why this or that happened or didn't happen and you know what?

Speaker 7: Not only might I not vote for you again, I might help somebody else beat you. You are my new most important person in life because I want to keep my job. So if you tell me you're a threat to my job, I'm all eyes on you, and so people need to understand whether they hate who's representing them, whether they love who's representing them, whether they wake up in the morning like I have recently went, oh my God, what did people do? How could we end up with president trump? Sure. Right. The really important thing to understand is democracy is a very fragile model of government and is totally dependent on how the actual people act and get involved.

Speaker 6: Yeah. So with most of the country not being enamored with either candidate at the presidential level this year, that is based on the fact that you know, you see it in the results, 50 percent of the population that could vote did

Speaker 7: didn't vote. Right? So, and there are some people who count on decreased voter turnout. Some people love to watch voter turnout go down and I often explain when I get frustrated with democracy or I even get frustrated with what I'm trying to do. I often remind myself, so I want to remind your listeners if the good guys give up and don't come, I guarantee you the bad guys will write. They will fill any vacuum they can find where they will take any opportunity to insert themselves to get what they want. So the other guys, what I think are the majority of the people sure. Better not fall down on the job.

Speaker 6: Yeah. So taking that person, taking either a person that didn't vote for the president will that or didn't vote at all. Your message to that person is a, the opposite of what they're saying, which is, you know, if, if I voted, if I didn't vote at all, the reason is because I don't feel like I'm represented by the people that I'm, that I have to vote for. Um, what's your advice to me? Okay.

Speaker 7: My advice to you is get more involved. You find people that you actually do believe in. Don't imagine that perhaps your first time out, you can change the outcome of a presidential election, but you'd be surprised how easy you see this change, the outcome of a local election and you can move right up at the, um, right up the road. And also remember history is pendulum swings. So yeah, I'm damned depressed about the outcome of this election, but it doesn't mean you close the book and go home and put the pillow over your head because guess what? We all live here and we're all dependent on making sure we make this the best damn place to be possible and we get a better government, which means when things don't go our way, one, we look immediately at what's the next election cycle we can influence into. We say, even though we're unhappy with whoever we need to make our voices heard, we make, we need to make it clear. Certain things are not acceptable and certain things must be done even if you don't think the guy in charge or the woman in charge is making the right decision.

Speaker 6: Okay, so let's place us geographically. We're right across the street from what will be the second avenue subway line entrance on a 96th street. Now, um, we'll get to that in a minute, but how do you interact with your constituents? What is effective? What's not effective? So if I'm one of your constituents, which has established me just showing up on the front doorstep, how effective is that? How effective is a letter? How effective is a call? How effective is the tweet? Okay. So

Speaker 7: I think all of those things can work. Um, and I think that it depends on the issue that you're going for us to what might be most effective. It is true that in electoral politics numbers count. So if I hear from three constituents, this is really important to me, I'm like, okay, what can I do about it? Or what could I possibly do about it? If I hear from 500 constituents, I'm like, oh, there is something going on here. 500 of my constituents decided that it was worthwhile for them to let me know that they cared about this or they needed something. Now there are different approaches. Some I am on the middle of the scale of social media knowledgeable. I'm above a certain age so I can never really get good at it, but I'm below a certain age so I'm not terrible. But I had this fabulous staff person, Justin happened to be sitting here with us.

Speaker 7: So we read twitter, he tweets on my behalf, we read facebook, we report on facebook so we know what's there. We know what's there so people can let me know things by tweeting, by writing to facebook, by emailing me, sending me letters. Um, it's interesting, some organizations sort of go for just giant mass send to everyone in the world. I'm not saying no, but when an organization gets you to do press button here and it goes out to every elected official in the state and sometimes you get them from a thousand people who don't live in your district and you sort of go, okay, but that's just sort of an organizational hit. It's not really the same as when there are people who are from your district. It's not a real thousand people and it's different whether if somebody is actually like if you get a handwritten letter on something, yes versus 900 of identical faxes, you go, oh, let me read this personalized letter.

Speaker 7: Right? Even though it might be saying some of the exact same things, so you do actually start to identify it as real people, not bots, so to speak. Right? When you, when you see and you hear from real people, I tell people all the time, yes, come visit us in Albany on lobby day for x organization, but more important come find us at our district office. Find the staff person who is dealing with that issue, get to know them, give them all the arguments. Don't assume just pushed you. Don't get to talk to Liz. You're not getting heard because good elected officials have good staff and listen to them, right? You just take us a level deeper so you never get insulted if you can't get the appointment with the elected official, but if you're finding the right staff to talk to and develop a relationship and getting facts to fabulous, don't lie to us because you usually just get caught.

Speaker 7: And what do you mean tone line? What do you mean? Well, sometimes like people are lobbyists will like tell us something. It's just not true and that's how the different elected officials something completely different. And just like the. I think we don't talk to each other when I talk to everybody all the time. So it's like if you, if they're saying, well Blah lists at blah blah, blah, and you know, Liz didn't say Blah Blah Blah. You've blown it. So if you don't know something, say I don't know. I'll get back to you. This is good advice for life. For Life. Exactly. It works here too. If you know something, get those facts to us. Keep trying new angles. Say what will work if I'm not getting through? If we're not being successful, why not? How? Who else do we need to coordinate with to accomplish these goals that you and I already established we agree on, but please don't get insulted if you don't get into the office and look getting into the office of your council member, your assembly member of your state senator might not be impossible, but getting into the office of the governor, the mayor, I'm a congress person to US senator as much tougher, so don't give up if you don't actually get to see them face to face.

Speaker 7: There's a reason a lot of those people have huge staffs with specialists there, right? Right. And again, if they're worth their salt as elected officials, they have found staff smarter than them to work on things. Right?

Speaker 6: Again, a great advice for any leader. You know, find people that are smarter than you to be on your team. All right, so then let's take a, an issue and discuss that issue as an example. I don't know, just anything off the top of my head. Let's choose candidates. Yes. Why don't we choose cannabis for your blog radio show. I'm cannabis. Okay, fine. It's a podcast. Excuse me. See, I told you I was only middle of the road on this technology things, a podcast. Thank you. I'm in trouble now. Fine. But how did you come to this issue? You know, as far as, you know, your first relationship with cannabis as a person and then your first relationship with cannabis as an elected official. Right.

Speaker 7: So my first relationship with cannabis as a person was as a pretty young teenager. I'm using marijuana to get high the way everybody else was using it when we were teenagers in the seventies. Everybody's doing it. Everybody was doing it. I was a frighteningly precocious teams, so I would say I had my drug period in eighth and ninth grade. Oh Wow. Oh, so you're my 10th grade. Yeah. Done that. Been there. Then I did go to college as many people do and I was at a, but I really wasn't using drugs in college. I turned to become a studious highschool student, didn't do drugs and went off to college and thought, oh, these people are using drugs. How cute. That's what I did in junior high school. I have other things to do, but I did go to the original showing up the rocky horror picture show. Wow. In 1976 and everybody in the audience was just passing around marijuana

Speaker 6: and so it will be in the movie theater. Yes. At the famous Chicago movie theater that I believe still is playing rocky horror picture show in 2016 will be so happy.

Speaker 7: He would be so happy and people got dressed up and play that enroll, played all of the, you know, all of the characters. It was a fabulous experience, but in fact, I don't know if marijuana came with the movie ticket, but once you walked into the theater it was ubiquitous. And so,

Speaker 8: um,

Speaker 7: I'm sorry, it was just going down the aisles. So I was smoking marijuana and I definitely got high and it seemed oddly appropriate for that film. But I left the movie theater and I said, Liz, you don't do that. And that was the last time I ever smoked marijuana. Ever, ever look at that until now. Nate, nate, I'm 59 and age in 19 2016.

Speaker 8: Right.

Speaker 7: So my motivation in sponsoring a legalization taxation bill for marijuana was not my desire to legalize it. Activity I'm participating in. It was not my desire to revisit my youth and use marijuana again. It's not likely I will ever use marijuana and less for medical purposes. At some point a doctor says for you, this would be a good thing right now. Be Costs. Yeah,

Speaker 7: but what motivated me was that I was looking at data being provided by criminal justice activist about how many young people were being caught up in marijuana arrests, how disproportionate and unfair the use of criminal justice laws were when it came to race. The fact that I was a state senator on the east side of Manhattan, that happens to be in probably one of the widest districts in New York City. My pupil, we're not getting arrested for marijuana, but I knew that my white young people were using marijuana and the stats old show that the use of marijuana based on color is not really different. In fact, maybe slightly higher among us that African Americans or Latinos, but when you looked at the statistics of WHO's getting arrested and who's having a go on their record and who has to go to court and who is having to pay fines and who has to be part of the criminal justice system, there was shocking.

Speaker 7: Just shocking, um, variations, New York City, the other major cities in the state. I just remember looking at a report I think done by the New York civil liberties union, breaking out the, um, arrest statistics by race and saying, Oh my God, what is going on here? It's 2014 or 13 at the time, the number of kids in New York City during the Bloomberg administration who were getting busted on stop and Frisk for a couple of marijuana cigarettes in their pocket was like $50,000 a year. And I met with criminal justice reform advocates who were telling me even if that kid never really goes into jail, they're part, they're becoming part of the system. They're being stopped by the police over and over again. And so they have a completely different relationship with law enforcement because of how they're being treated on the streets and is what we're talking about. When we were talking about structural racism is exactly.

Speaker 7: We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year for police costs, court costs, da costs, and in some cases prison costs. Even though there will be people who say, oh, it's just a ticket. It's just a violation. It's just a whatever. Well, when you can't pay because you're a poor kid of color, it adds up and you can end up with a real criminal penalty if you're being dragged into court over and over and again, even on these dumb little bus, it affects your life. If you're a college student who is. I went to a hearing on marijuana up in buffalo and I heard African American college students in white areas of Erie county being describing how they were being stopped by police Frist and dragged to the police precinct over and over again because there might have been a marijuana seed in their backpack with their books and what it meant to them and how they felt.

Speaker 7: And the perception then that other students looking at them had and I realized like we're just destroying slides for zero when at an enormous cost when I heard a district attorney present to me that when you're spending all your police and da time on the quote unquote low hanging fruit of nine violent noncriminal types of activities like small used marijuana use, that means you are not going after the big time crimes because it's a whole lot easier to split, you know, to pick up the kids on the street from marijuana and you get your numbers up. But it means that you all get lazy and this is easy and not fun, but this is easy. So no one's actually working on the serious crimes that aren't getting solved. So when you had district attorneys, police act, people who had been narcotics offices are in New York City who had retired and now are advocating for changes in the laws saying that they felt like they wasted their entire careers doing this kind of thing. You'll wake up and say, what can we do about it? And so I decided that I would explore. I'm writing as being the lead sponsor on the bill to tax and regulate marijuana and I started sitting down with experts in drug policy. I want to give a shout out to the drug policy alliance, who has been an incredible helper to me. A number of other organizations who you probably have interviewed on your podcast will work on cannabis law and policy around the country. Did you happen to share

Speaker 6: with Mr Ethan Nadelmann over at DPA?

Speaker 7: I know Ethan Nadelmann very well even even for other reasons. We have personal connections through family before I was even doing this, but yes, Mr Ethan Nadelmann and his staff have been incredibly helpful. We looked at what was going on in other states. We evaluated carefully, um, the laws in Colorado and Washington because those were the two states that had passed legalization. When I started working on this, we looked at some of the work that was being proposed in other states. We literally sort of went line by line through every law we could find on the books around legalized marijuana or cannabis. I'm not just here, but in other countries and what we've tried to do and it's evolved, so it's changed over the last couple of years and it will change again when we introduce or reintroduce the bill for the new session in January. We keep trying to, I'd say make the bill the best model bill. We can, we can come up with, for what we believe. Makes Sense.

Speaker 6: Sure. And so here, here's where you have your stakeholders, right? Yes. There are other folks involved and we've spoken with, uh, your colleague, Diane Savino. We'll bring that up again at the end if you, you've got a governor that has very specific, kind of a point of view on this. So what did you know had to be after doing your research, which you just explained, what did you realize had to be in the bill? What did you realize that you were not going to be able to get in the bill?

Speaker 7: But I'm still not 100 percent sure what I need to do to eventually get it passed, but what we tried to do was incorporate both. I think my own personal views with my understanding of the politics of New York state, so for example, and some people who were in the pro cannabis world don't actually love the view I take, which is. Well, let's see. Okay. Let's see. I'm not trying to support individual cannabis businesses. Not for this. I don't think that it's okay to have a business on a legal product that I want this to be legal and regulated, but like I don't have front for alcohol either. I don't tell people to drink alcohol. I don't front for tobacco. I actually tell people not to smoke. Sure. That's one thing. I actually would try it out if I could. Um, but I know that marijuana is less dangerous than either of those products and those products are illegal to sell and use within certain regulations.

Speaker 7: So my bill makes it clear that I don't want marijuana marketed to children or sellable to children. In my research I learned that while almost everyone in the medical community agrees marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. There are concerns about the developing brain and the impact of cannabis on a developing brain, so the medical research that I have accepted is that you really shouldn't be using it before age 21, unless it's for medical purposes under doctor's orders because it has an impact on the developing brain, so we make a. We make a rule on drinking and on tobacco and they vary a little bit by age, but we decided that in our bill you can't legally buy it before age 21. Now I know that teenagers are still going to use it. I just told all of your listeners I was using it when I was 14 years old.

Speaker 7: I know all that and I know kids will still do that like they're using it now even though it's not legal and the way they're using alcohol and tobacco now, even though it's not legal for them at those ages, but I don't want to encourage the use and so I don't want to criminalize it, but I want to try to keep kids safe and make it clear to the business industries out there. No, we're not really marketing to them. Most people would agree that there is a line happens to be 21 years old. Exactly. I don't really want them to be marketing. It is candy and other kid friendly stuff. Right. I want the labeling to be explicit. One of the things I learned from the Oregon experience was you really shouldn't sell chocolate chip cookies or brownies that are really five, seven and eight doses when it looks like one cookie or Brownie, right.

Speaker 7: That a product actually should be correctly labeled and probably one product should be one dose because the truth is cannabis today is a whole lot stronger when then when I was experimenting in the seventies, you have a couple of years on me. It's also more potent than it was when I was. Exactly, so I don't want us mislabeling or not explaining carefully to people, this is what this is and the potential of what it does, so really don't eat seven chocolate chip cookies that are each five doses to bad idea number of doses and milligrams per dose. That's kind of a different conversation. Exactly. It's one cookie. Let's identify it as one cookie, not as you know exactly to a piece. Take one quarter of this cookie right now. I also put into this bill, um, and it was definitely out of at the request of many people who are advocates the right for personal growth, personal growth of up to six plants for personal use that you can't resell. Doesn't mean you can't give your best friend when they come over, but not for resale. But we did want to have a system of regulation not unlike for alcohol and while there are people who make wine at home and there might even be people who have figured out how to make more interesting alcohols for themselves at home. I don't know. They're not allowed to sell it like a business without going through a licensing and regulatory process. So we tried to do something similar for cannabis and just

Speaker 6: take this tangent that taskforce up in Canada just made their recommendation so that a homegrown is acceptable at a federal level for that. So why wouldn't it be acceptable at a state level for us?

Speaker 7: Good. So Canada and lives around the same talking points, but actually when we looked at the Massachusetts referendum that just passed, um, we were reading it and I looked at my chief of staff and I said, this is our bill, like almost in the word for word in the same order. Somebody took our bill and said that's what we'll work for Massachusetts. That's what we will make our referendum question. And I felt like, oh, okay, it's not law in New York state, but I'm going to take a tiny piece of the credit for the design that Massachusetts is now just put into effect thanks to the voters of Massachusetts. Congratulations. Thank you. There you go.

Speaker 6: Alright. So what else then you know, when, when we say we kind of know what's in Massachusetts, what's important to you that that's in there.

Speaker 7: Okay. So we do put regulations on, um, you know, the requirements for somebody who's going to be a seller. Um, we've put limitations on the use. No public smoking. Okay. Okay.

Speaker 6: Consumption just passed in Denver. We don't necessarily love that in our build right now.

Speaker 7: Weed and there we will have different opinions about. Exactly. There were people who were originally wanted there to be marijuana bars, not a like their alcohol bars. I was torn about it, so the way it's written in my bill local option if a locality and the elected a legislative body for that locality, town village, municipality, city, there's all kinds of definitions of a locality in New York state. If the locality says, I want to have marijuana bars, okay. If they say no, no. If they say I don't want to have sellers distributing. Okay, so it's an opt in or an opt out set of options so that the locals could actually have their say, so I suspect there'll be certain areas of the state who will immediately say shorter everything and there may be sections of the state that go and not so much here and technically that's parallel to New York state liquor law.

Speaker 7: We can. You can be a dry town in New York state. I'm not sure if any exist anymore, but you could be. When I went to college, I was going to college in the last town in the state of Illinois because it was the home of the women's Christian temperance union and they were still three of them alive. Now, since this is the second time you brought up, but being in college in Illinois? Yeah. Okay. Are you originally from New York or Illinois? Neither. I grew up in New Jersey. Never heard. Where's this? If this little this little. You know why you know of it? There's this guy named Chris Christie charge now. I've heard bridge gates. Yeah, so I lived. I lived on the other side of the George Washington bridge out a little farther farther. The Ford laid forth other than partly, but you'd have to go press the Gw Bridge to get back and forth.

Speaker 7: New York City and then I went to college and Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois. What school? In Chicago? With two schools. I went to northwestern in Evanston, which was dry at the time, no longer dry and I went to the University of Chicago in the city of Chicago. Graduate person in front of me. This is, the university should fire, this is a real deal. Northwestern's real. Um, but, uh, you know, I kind of made a joke there about Jersey for, for our national and global listeners. It would be great if you could explain the relationship between New York and New Jersey from your perspective. How do you do that? What do you do you do that? Well, I think, you know, New Jersey is an underrated state. Absolutely. Okay. Um, so I'll give my little shout out to my home state that there are great communities in New Jersey and great people. Um, New Jersey often for those of us who live in New York City as viewed as the suburbs where everybody goes to sleep there and then comes into the city for real life.

Speaker 7: Yes. Breaux Bridge and tunnel people. Yes. I know. I didn't want to. I'm clearly screwing up my chances for president if we go too far down this road. I Love New Jersey. New Jersey is great because anyone can get elected to be president. So true. So, so anyway, so back to back to the bill. Um, I think we understand that the basic framework, where are we with this? What are we looking at? Okay, so where are we? We do not have enough support in either house to pass this bill yet, but we are growing the number of legislators who asked about it, who are interested, who have even signed on in support. Every time a different state in this country moves forward mostly through referendum vote of the public. Every time a new state moves forward, there's more attention here in New York to cheat. Why aren't we considering that?

Speaker 7: The fact that Massachusetts and Maine, Massachusetts literary literally being right there on our border, a few, not a few minutes, but it's about 35 from Albany. You can get to Massachusetts. Massachusetts has passed, Maine is past California. Our rival for big blue state status in this country have all legalized. I think there was going to be much more tension in Albany and through the public and through the press New York. What are you doing? New York, what did you do so far? Is it working and why are we looking at the same kinds of questions that other states in this country have already moved forward on?

Speaker 6: So let's talk about what we've done so far. Um, what was your role, if any, in terms of the medical cannabis, a bill and, um, you know, how do you think we're doing there and what can be done? So first things first. Okay. Medical Cannabis. We're worried you wanted. Okay.

Speaker 7: I was not a lead sponsor on that bill, although everyone. But I always said I would support it and vote for it. I introduced my regulation and taxation bill for marijuana with the very specific intent that introducing it would push medical marijuana over into the must be done category. And I actually said at the time people who were opposed to my bill will be motivated to get medical marijuana done because if we don't, suddenly attention will go to that really crazy idea of full legalization. Interesting. Explain that I guess the mind of a legislator then how that actually works. I understand negotiation basic, more sort of press cycle. It's more combination of press and public pressure. Talk about, okay, so there was public pressure to allow medical marijuana. There was a very effective, although it took too long advocacy community coming into Albany, talking about the illnesses, particularly of children not being able to get any kind of medication that was actually addressing their needs.

Speaker 7: I'm being told by medical experts in other parts of the world and other parts look country, she, we're using marijuana. Were you using cannabis chemicals, you know, um, distilled from the plant in a variety of different ways. Sometimes there's oil sometimes as something you take orally that are having an enormous effect on these different categories of illnesses. So there was a growing drumbeat. Why are we not doing medical marijuana in New York state? This is a real need for real people, but there was also an enormous pushback that New York wasn't going down that road. I would argue that it was the governor shop who was an enormous pushback. We're not going down this road. I don't think you have to argue that that's, that's, that's definitely the opener was pretty clear. He wasn't going down this road. I actually consciously said to myself, I think if there's a beginning of a serious push for legalizing completely recreational marijuana, which would of course then allow for medical marijuana within the structure.

Speaker 7: If it's legal, you can of course do what you want medically. Right? Um, I thought that if I did that, medical marijuana would see more like the middle medical marijuana would look more like the middle ground to go down and a safer path reasonable, reasonable. So I actually thought if I introduced my bill, I will become the outlier and that will be a reasonable approach and I was perfectly prepared to be the outlier, to assist the effort to make medical marijuana a reasonable middle ground. Liz is crazy and you're welcome. That type of thing. Um, and interestingly, as I recall, when I introduced the bill, I was told it was two days later that the governor asks his people to start to work on the medical marijuana bill. Excellent. Maybe just coincidence. And then did you support it? I would imagine I did, although I did not love the final bill.

Speaker 7: And I am like many other people you've probably spoken to who have explained that the bill we did finally passed was one that many of us did not think was the right bill and many of us even talked about perhaps voting no because it wasn't the right bill and we're really urged and even begged by the families who desperately needed something for themselves and their children. We were bagged to go for the half loaf, so to speak, of a medical marijuana bill. Like let's go with that and try to make it better. What needs to be improved? Plus, uh, you know, what, what has to happen next session if it could. All right. Well the governor's already voiced, um, I guess through the Department of Health, but there are certain things they intend to do, so we clearly need to make sure that more providers understand this program, how they can be approved to prescribe, although it's not called prescribed, but to write the Chits for medical marijuana, we need to do that because it's a tiny percentage of the healthcare community today who are even participating.

Speaker 7: I don't think the doctors themselves. So we've already talked about expanding to other nurses and physicians assistants, um, which will expand the universe of healthcare providers. We've already talked about expanding the number of different products that can be defined as approved medical and that's not necessarily going to smoked a Canada was to, to, you know, to playing old flower because we call it, but other products clearly from the research that has been done around the world, particularly Canada and Israel also has done enormous research. There are far more than five models of using the chemicals within cannabis to produce different kinds of drugs that treat different kinds of illnesses. So we've talked about expanding that. I think we should really open that up. I don't actually understand why we would say we're sort of our own FDA even though we don't have one and we're putting a limit on five or seven or nine even though we have no idea what we're talking about.

Speaker 7: I just don't get it. And just to go back to. So this was important because of the laws here that say that you can't smoke in public. So we get that. Well, there were also doctors saying to us, you know, inhaling things into your lungs is inherently not a great idea. So that is such a understanding. Yeah. So medicine through inhalation into the lungs that's hot and burning, probably not the best idea, but why limit, why limit other, right. And again, how one person responds as if it's a hatch. Thank you. You know, or a teacher, that was the word I was looking for, right? There's endless scenarios where some other mix of the chemical compound or the way you get it into your system might be the best model. So why in a world where none of us actually have the right answer, we would limit the medical community's ability to recommend and try various options.

Speaker 7: Like it's still just cannabis. It's like, okay, let's give it a try and come up with the best model. So I think that's really important. Um, I also think it's really important to expand the number of locations because we sell limited the number of locations where you could distribute that. Okay, I'm here in New York City. We always knew the majority of the sites would end up being in New York City. We're eight and a half million people living in close proximity to each other in a city where there probably wasn't going to be an explosion of, Oh my God, not here, but there are areas of the state were under the math of how many sites there can be. Yeah. You might have to go three, four, or five hours to get your prescription drug needed, so to speak. Needed for yourself, for your child delivery comes in. Exactly. So the limit of you have to only get a month at a time. You have to go there. There's no option for delivery. We have to revisit that. Right. It's just cruel to tell somebody you have a legal right to this. You have a doctor who said this can help you. Oh yeah. It's gonna be almost impossible for you to get.

Speaker 6: So speaking of the Department of Health and knowing that we don't have too much more time, you were very easy to talk to Senator Krueger and I talk a lot actually. Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, and it comes with the territory, but um, alright, so we talked about, uh, the medical cannabis initiative we talked about, um, uh, the adult use a, um, a build that you have in terms of making our way into 2017. What would be a successful year for you regarding both medical and adult use?

Speaker 7: Okay, so another successful year would be a common sense expansion in medical marijuana to insure people who need it can get it all right. I'm a successful year for legalization and decriminalization and tax and regulate my bill would be a building momentum from the public telling Albany their legislators. We really want this to happen here. We've looked at what's happening in other states in the country that have gone down this road and we think that's the right answer for us here in New York state. So that means letting your legislators know, your senators, your assembly member, your governor. Um, it's fascinating how if you watch what happens in Albany, if you get to critical mass on public opinion polls, subtly, you get people going, oh, maybe we should do that. So when you look at public opinion polls about legalized marijuana, you see we're moving up, we need to move up more, we need more public education, more people starting to talk about this fact checking. I still occasionally get the person who's pulling out reefer madness type of things and throwing it. It's a gateway drug. We have an opioid crisis. We do have an opioid crisis, but it's not a gateway drug. That's right. Okay. Synthetic marijuana should never be called that because it has nothing to do with cannabis. But it was a plot. I'm sorry, by somebody. It's a horrible thing. It's doing terrible things to people, but it's somebody bad, bad plot against marijuana to call it synthetic marijuana. That's like calling me synthetic Liz Krueger. Exactly.

Speaker 7: So I think it continues to be an educational process. I'm not. Everybody's going to agree. I have a sister who thinks I'm crazy to support this. She's like, I don't think you're right on this. I have another one who's like, no, I think you are. Right, right. So you, even in your own family, you can have disagreements about these things, but you want to base the information on the facts, you want to talk to your elected officials, and again, if public opinion continues to go up, the trend line of supporting, particularly as we start to see it right across the border and Massachusetts, that will be the momentum I need to finally get this passed as law in New York state.

Speaker 6: There we go. We're behind you. Um, I have three final questions for you, but one last thing before we get to it. You just said, uh, you can have disagreements within your family. So had, so the IDC. Let's just quickly discuss that. Um, because we did talk to, to Senator Savino who is a part of the IDC and you know, you being a Democrat who's not part of the IDC, I wonder what your thoughts are just so that we can touch on it here as well. So we don't ignore it.

Speaker 7: So as of today, and we're taping this on December 15th, 16th, December Sixteenth, um, we've had a certification in one more election in New York state for another Democratic senator. So there are 32 senators who ran as Democrats. There are 63 total senators. The way the math works, so 32 means that technically Democrats are the majority in the state senate in normal lingo, in normal lingo that would mean the majority leader elected would be a Democrat, which doesn't mean everything is done by the Democrats, but the relevance and majority leaders, they set out what the agendas that actually come to the floor for votes are. So one would hope, particularly in this complex time with Donald Trump taking over the country that Democrats would walk to work together to push an agenda that the Democratic Party is committed to. If the IDC continues to sit with the Republicans and give their vote to a Republican majority leader, we are losing that opportunity to set the agenda for the next two years. And just

Speaker 6: dovetail that with what originally occurred. In other words, when the ITC was set up, um, it was kind of crazy times as far as democratic politics at the state level here in New York. So just share your more personal chart when you there.

Speaker 7: So the 2009, 10 session, eight, nine session,

Speaker 6: it doesn't matter. I mean like we can fact check that nine,

Speaker 7: 10 session. The Democrats took the majority for the first time in decades and decades, but barely. We just had the one vote majority. There were some bad democrats. I will say that publicly. I have said that before, there were some criminals and there were some sociopath's and there was some overlap between those people. So we took the majority. Then there was sort of chaos where some of the Democrats went over to the Republicans in a cool. Then there was a counter coup and they came back, but blackmailed us in order to come back. Then there was the period of ptsd for everyone. Um, then there was a perception that we were all clowns helped along by New York Post covers drawing clown faces on everyone. Thank you very much. And what people were going to jail, I mean there was, it was a little crazy or more than a little crazy. And then the Democrats lost in the next election cycle. Right now, Democrats did terribly all around the country, but I think certainly we could take responsibility for having screwed up a bunch of things. The ID see which was for people then broke off saying,

Speaker 7: you know, you're all crazy. We don't want to sit with you. I can actually identify with that from that moment in history. And then they just sort of operated on their own for two years. Okay, fine. Not everybody has to like each other or get along. But then the next cycle, the Democrats weren't enough votes to be the majority again. And it was a different crowd. We got rid of most of. Even in that one cycle, we got rid of a bunch of the psychopaths and criminals and have new leadership. And so what I think should have happened is the IDC didn't necessarily have to come back, but they should have supported a democratic leader. So the Democrats could have in fact been their rightful majority. They did not, they chose to formally support the Republicans and put in a Republican leader and I believe that was the wrong thing. They stayed in that position for four years. It's a new session coming in January. I believe the right answer is for the IDC to fine if they want to be there on conference. It's okay. We have all kinds of different people who break out in different ways, but they should, if they're running as Democrats, agree to support Democrat leadership in the New York state Senate, which by the way would help ensure the bills that they say are their priority bills. Actually come to the floor of the Senate.

Speaker 6: [inaudible]. I would love to go to lunch with a US senator Savino just, you know, I'm just thinking to people random. I'm wonderful. Thank you for that. Three final questions. I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you them in order most surprised you in cannabis, what has most surprised you in life and then on the soundtrack of Liz Krueger's life named one track, one song that's got to be on there. That's how we end lightly. It's easily the most difficult question that I asked were the easiest one depending on the guest.

Speaker 8: Okay.

Speaker 6: First things first though. What has most surprised you in candidates?

Speaker 8: Okay.

Speaker 7: I think what has most surprised me is how many really thoughtful, rational people have been pushing this issue for so long, not because they just want to go out and get high all the time because they actually really do understand that there are serious negative consequences from our current laws that they've been failed last for too long, that we're wasting

Speaker 7: lives of human beings and a whole lot of government money and resources, that there are medically justified reasons to make this product available and accessible both to researchers and the healthcare community to broaden the potential uses of a product that is far, far, far less dangerous than many of the drugs that we legally prescribe. That is very well said. I can't. I mean you should run for office. Maybe. Let's sync it. Hit on everything. Well done. Thank you. It's good to see you at work right before me. Second question, what has most surprised you in life?

Speaker 8: Oh,

Speaker 7: I'm not done with it. Yeah. I just think there's more surprises to come. I don't know if it surprised me, but I certainly know what every day you need a sense of humor, do you think? Yeah, you really do because life throws a whole lot of things that you, that you're not ready for and that aren't so fun. But if you hold onto your sense of humor, you'll make it through. There you go. Smile gets you through. My mom used to say that. I like that. Yeah. Um, and so then Senator Krueger on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song. What's got to be on there? God bless the Child by Billie holiday. Wow. That's one of my all time favorite. I mean, that's got a message. It's classy and hip, you know, it's retro. I didn't know it was retro or him, so thank you so much. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Speaker 1: And there you have state senator to Liz Krueger. Very much appreciate her time and service as noted. She is my state senator. So, uh, if you're still listening, uh, Senator Krueger. Thanks. Thanks to Aaron Smith. Of course, from the Ncia doing good work, not ceding any ground as it worked, and thank you so much for listening.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.