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Ep.240: Taylor West

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.240: Taylor West

Ep.240: Taylor West

Taylor West joins us and discusses her dog Tucker who you know if you’ve been to NCIA HQ. From a small town, Taylor was ready to leave as soon as she could. That said, she understands the community from which she came and realizes that not everyone does leave. Taylor eventually found a career in politics and subsequently found the NCIA. Her first day just so happened to be on January 1st 2014. She notes the importance of the work done to setup the industry up in Colorado and elsewhere and highlights  three years of lobby days and how far the industry has come from. But as we’ve always said, cannabis years are dog years so Taylor points out that deep relationships with federal legislators have been built in just three short years.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Taylor West joins us and discusses her dog tucker, who you know, if you've been to the ncaa headquarters from a small town, taylor was ready to leave as soon as she could. That said she understands the community from which he came and realizes that not everyone does leave, tell her, eventually found a career in politics and subsequently found the ncia. Her first day just so happen to be on January 1st, 2014. She notes the importance of the work done to 17 industry in Colorado and elsewhere, and highlights three years of lobby days and how far the industry's come. But as we've said, cannabis years or dog here, so taylor points out that deep relationships with federal legislators have been built in just three short years. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host seth adler. Check us out on social with the handle can economy. That's two ends in the word economy. Taylor west. So, so your dog,

Speaker 3: you said he's as what? As ever as ever. So I'm, I know that your dog, it's like a not a, it's like a golden retriever retriever. Yes. Okay. And what's his name? His name is tucker and he's probably, we think he's four and a half or five. We're not exactly sure. But acts like a puppy still, right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, in a he not, uh, not in the bad ways. He doesn't chew things a know he's very good about house training. No, jusT, just very goofy and happy all the time. Like if you're walking in the ncaa headquarters in denver, which, which I'm want to do, right. Um, he might just barrel into you as though he's one of your buddies from college that's maybe had a couple, two minutes. Yeah.

Speaker 4: Yeah. That's kind of, you know, he's got an enthusiasm for life that really we could all stand to learn from. Totally a. Yeah. No, he's great to have around. I, you know, I had two cats and still have two cats and brought those into my marriage. And then we got the dog together and when we were talking about what kind of dog we wanted to get, um, you know, we were talking about different breeds and, and ones that were smart versus ones that are a little more dumb and sweet, like the golden retriever. And my husband's input was we already had two cats. He didn't need any other animals in the house that we're smart and not particularly a happy all the time, much rather have a dumb dog that loves him. So we ended up with a golden

Speaker 5: treatment and that makes all the sense of the world because I, I kind of understand that now. I didn't grow up with a dog, but I had no relationships in the past that have brought dogs to me. So I get it because it's like they're just people. right. But the cat's thing, I still don't under.

Speaker 4: Well, the first reason to get a cat. I think that the entry into getting a cat is when your life is too busy to take care of a dog. Or at least if you're me, you desperately wanted animals around. But I Had, this was back, I had this all started when I was working on campaigns and there was just no way that I could have a dog and I just didn't have enough. There weren't enough hours in the day. I wouldn't have been fair to a dog, but she had cats there. They're pretty low maintenance, you know, you get them established and you know, it's pretty easy. And I started out with a really great cat. He's no longer with us, but he was a very sweet cat. Unfortunately, his successor loves me, hates everything else in the world, including my husband. Yeah, dow, he's, he's a, he's a little, he's a little ball of hatred, but he likes me and that kind of makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

Speaker 1: Taylor West joins us and discusses her dog tucker, who you know, if you've been to the ncaa headquarters from a small town, taylor was ready to leave as soon as she could. That said she understands the community from which he came and realizes that not everyone does leave, tell her, eventually found a career in politics and subsequently found the ncia. Her first day just so happen to be on January 1st, 2014. She notes the importance of the work done to 17 industry in Colorado and elsewhere, and highlights three years of lobby days and how far the industry's come. But as we've said, cannabis years or dog here, so taylor points out that deep relationships with federal legislators have been built in just three short years. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host seth adler. Check us out on social with the handle can economy. That's two ends in the word economy. Taylor west. So, so your dog,

Speaker 3: you said he's as what? As ever as ever. So I'm, I know that your dog, it's like a not a, it's like a golden retriever retriever. Yes. Okay. And what's his name? His name is tucker and he's probably, we think he's four and a half or five. We're not exactly sure. But acts like a puppy still, right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, in a he not, uh, not in the bad ways. He doesn't chew things a know he's very good about house training. No, jusT, just very goofy and happy all the time. Like if you're walking in the ncaa headquarters in denver, which, which I'm want to do, right. Um, he might just barrel into you as though he's one of your buddies from college that's maybe had a couple, two minutes. Yeah.

Speaker 4: Yeah. That's kind of, you know, he's got an enthusiasm for life that really we could all stand to learn from. Totally a. Yeah. No, he's great to have around. I, you know, I had two cats and still have two cats and brought those into my marriage. And then we got the dog together and when we were talking about what kind of dog we wanted to get, um, you know, we were talking about different breeds and, and ones that were smart versus ones that are a little more dumb and sweet, like the golden retriever. And my husband's input was we already had two cats. He didn't need any other animals in the house that we're smart and not particularly a happy all the time, much rather have a dumb dog that loves him. So we ended up with a golden

Speaker 5: treatment and that makes all the sense of the world because I, I kind of understand that now. I didn't grow up with a dog, but I had no relationships in the past that have brought dogs to me. So I get it because it's like they're just people. right. But the cat's thing, I still don't under.

Speaker 4: Well, the first reason to get a cat. I think that the entry into getting a cat is when your life is too busy to take care of a dog. Or at least if you're me, you desperately wanted animals around. But I Had, this was back, I had this all started when I was working on campaigns and there was just no way that I could have a dog and I just didn't have enough. There weren't enough hours in the day. I wouldn't have been fair to a dog, but she had cats there. They're pretty low maintenance, you know, you get them established and you know, it's pretty easy. And I started out with a really great cat. He's no longer with us, but he was a very sweet cat. Unfortunately, his successor loves me, hates everything else in the world, including my husband. Yeah, dow, he's, he's a, he's a little, he's a little ball of hatred, but he likes me and that kind of makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

Speaker 5: Yeah, no, absolutely. You've established a, the relationship. Exactly. and so you win really

Speaker 4: tucker, you know, he's amazing. but he also would go home with anyone you know and be probably pretty close to his happy as he is with us.

Speaker 5: So there's, there's downside to that. I guess what, so you mentioned campaigns and I just want to, you and I have spoken so many times the first time with microphones, taylor west, I think I didn't even say who you were yet. Fair enough. I should have asked You straight up front. I mean, are you, are you related to Jane West?

Speaker 4: Uh, I am not, that's an, in fact impossibilities. James's, uh, as an assumed name. Mine I was born with. Um, so no, we are not related. where were you born? I was born in Virginia. Um, I grew up in a very small town in southern Virginia. Not really near anything at all, about 3,500 people. Um, lovely little place, very tight knit community. Um, but I definitely know once, once I was ready to head out into the world. I did a small town.

Speaker 5: Get it. We get it. Okay. Maybe this is too small. When did you start to realize that? I would imagine when you're a little kid, this is fun. This is fine.

Speaker 4: Yeah. I mean, I think I, uh, in even middle school and high school, it was very aware that I didn't expect to stay there for the rest of my life. Um, and, you know, my, uh, I went to a public school in, in my community and it was a very small school, but some really wonderful teachers and wonderful opportunities. Um, and it, uh, it gave me the chance to go do things outside of our community that helped kind of broaden my perspective. I mean, okay. I've, I was joking with someone the other day actually about, I did lots of activities when I was in high school because any opportunity to go to a conference or something, uh, to travel somewhere or was, it was great

Speaker 5: beyond getting out. Do you remember an issue or something that kind of hit your heart, you know?

Speaker 4: Well, you know, not necessarily things that I am working on directly, but I can tell you, you know, there've been a lot of conversations recently, especially about, um, you know, what does it mean, uh, when we look at white working class communities and uh, what are the issues that they're concerned about? Is it economic, is it cultural, is it racial, is it, you know, what, what is it that's driving people? Uh, and as someone who definitely grew up in that environment but, but also always had opportunities in front of me, um, it's been really interesting and, and hard to, to kind of parse a. Because I see people who want to demonize those communities, uh, who have never really lived in them or know anyone that lives in them. Um, and I recognize that that is an oversimplification and it's not fair, but I also recognize that, look, there are very valid questions about whether people in those communities are the, are truly the ones that are in the bubble, right?

Speaker 4: That they are the ones who aren't being exposed to the broader world. Um, someone made the point that, you know, the people who are fighting, and boy this is far field, but people who are, who are fighting to keep our immigration system open and support the bringing of refugees are typically ones who were living next to them everyday riding with them on buses, you know, not considering every one of them a terrorist or a, or a threat. Um, and the ones who were fighting the hardest to shut things down are ones who actually really aren't seeing their lives affected directly by it that much. There's more of a, of a perception than a reality. Um, buT I will say, you know, it is very true that the economic changes that have happened in the world in the last few decades have hit communities like the one I grew up in extremely hard.

Speaker 4: And my entire town originally was founded around a furniture company. It was, they, they, the family that started the company also founded the town. And that was the reason that my town existed. My father worked there for more than 30 years. Uh, and in the eighties, hostile takeovers, bankruptcy's just all of the things that started happening to manufacturing happened in my town, uh, and it's been brutal. Uh, a no, it's not, it is a microcosm of that story of the fact that people used to be able to graduate from high school and get a job that had a solid salary and benefits and often union support and that just doesn't exist anymore. Right.

Speaker 5: certainly not as true. Right. And I think you hit on something, you mentioned bubbles and I do feel like I've been talking to a lot of people about this, um, because, and I say every time I come from the left, but I try to be in the middle and, uh, uh, we're all in our own little bubbles here, you know. So, you know, I love the fact that the first thing we're talking about is you kind of trying to break out of your, uh, your own little bubble to begin with, you know, to kind of get out of dodge, so to speak, uh, both, it seems like philosophically and physically, where did you wind up with for your higher edge?

Speaker 3: Sure. I went to college at duke in North Carolina. So, you know, this is a very good school, you know, how to spell shashefski. It's true. It took me a while to figure it out. But yes, I uh, they make you do that before you congratulate. No, it was great. I, I looked at a lot of different places,

Speaker 4: but um, but duke was a place that I felt very much at home, uh, when I went there to visit as a unit, as a potential student. It was a place that had a lot of serious academics, but also a lot of, uh, a lot of fun. Yeah. Yeah. And that was great. Um, you know, it's definitely a very, uh, talk about bubbles. It is a very much a, you know, a community that it has it's own bubble. Um, and I was certainly not the average student at duke, you know, coming from a very small town in a public high school was not your necessarily your typical there. Um, and that was actually one of the first times that I really started to realize how much those bubbles do exist, you know, that to me while I had always been very fortunate and, and um, you know, had the ability to kind of see the opportunities and had a very supportive family and parents with jobs that opened up a lot of doors for me, you know, I went to school with lots of kids who, you know, were on free lunch or you know, we're dealing in.

Speaker 4: That wasn't unusual. It was just part of life in a small rural community. Um, I didn't think that that was unusual until I went to a place like duke where, you know, the majority of kids were coming from much more privileged backgrounds. Um, and so that was kind of, it was interestinG. You know, I had to be careful because I don't want to make it sound like somehow I came from the hard scrabble and raise myself up. I, I was very in my growing up. I was, I was in a privileged position in my community.

Speaker 3: No, you're more talking to the simple realization of what reality was. Yeah, it waS, it was just very interesting

Speaker 4: just to kind of realize that, well, there are places where things are much more divided that there's much less, uh, uh, have an opportunity to sort of cross across class and economic boundaries. When you grow up in a small town in a rural community there, you may still, you definitely still have class in economic divisions, but there just aren't enough people to have these really clear, a strict boundaries, you know, everything kind of bleeds it. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Well there is no other. I kind of talk about that.

Speaker 5: The fact with people that want to listen that there, you know, that is the dividing line when, when folks are able to, to convince other folks that there's another. That's where the problem started.

Speaker 3: Here you are at duke, you're doing well, you're kind of realizing what life is all about. You're, you're having fun but not too much fun because you're studying very hard in what I was a public policy studies major. All makes sense. It was definitely. This is kind of the direction I was headed, but I did actually end up picking up a second major in classical studies as well because a little bit of a fluke. I, a classical study, ancient civilizations, ancient rome, ancient Greece and some like old United States of America. Yeah, something like that. Um, some, yeah, some latin literature

Speaker 4: and all that kind of stuff. Um, and sanskrit, I did not do any sanskrit. I am sure there were people in the classical studies department that were doing that. I was primarily focused on, on a rome. I, oddly enough, despite my very small town in my public high school, um, we had an extraordinary latin teacher in my high school who was actually a native of our town and she just fell in love with latin and she sort of transferred that love to a lot of students over the years. At my high school, which sort of unusual for a rural high school to have a really thriving latin program, but she was so enthusiastic about it that it was just kind of infectious and uh, and then I got to college and I wasn't planning on doing anything more with that and a kind of missed it. And then it came down, uh, there were some study abroad opportunities, but they were sort of related to your major and the study abroad opportunity for public policy was at a school in scotland. Lovely. But I was doing a fall semester and I thought if I went to scotland in the fall, I would never see the sun for like four months.

Speaker 3: So they didn't think I could manage that. Right. So I started looking into, you know, what, what would I have to do to do a study abroad program in Italy? And it seems like a nice place to go and appropriate. Right. Exactly. So suddenly I decided that a classical studies major seems like a, a, a good path to go down. Then we find ourselves in Italy and. Yeah. And that's a, that's where we ended up. So I have a bifurcated question. Okay. I want to know your lesson learned from old rome and your lesson learned from studying abroad in new rome in Italy today, or used a few years ago. So long ago. I was actually thinking about this because we're actually planning a trip to Italy right now. It will be the first time I've been back and it was now seven now, 15 years ago when I was studying abroad, like they were still using lira when I was there. So yeah, thinking back, let me think. I mean, like there's some

Speaker 4: very obvious parallels when you look at what are mistakes that ancient rome made a, you know, as they expanded their territory and they moved away from, um, you know, democratic more into a emperors and things like that. There's also a lot of these questions about income inequality that come up and that kind of thing. Um, so, you know, there's obviously people have been drawing parallels ancient rome for decades when it comes to, you know, various other empires. Um, but that doesn't mean they're not a worthwhile cogent to look at. Um, and then, uh, you know, I think I'm spending time in another country is always, always a learning experience for people. Um, you know, in some ways at that point I had not really traveled much overseas at all. And uh, you, you don't realize until you go overseas how much older men

Speaker 3: everything is in America. Yeah. You're just like, you start realizing that, oh, these really old buildings you saw in colonial williamsburg or whatever are like, you know, I'm sitting here looking at temples that were built in the one hundreds of years before christ is going, oh yeah, these ancient, you know, we went down to sicily, the

Speaker 4: and sicily, the civilizations and sicily often predate the civilizations in Italy proper. And these are like greek temples from, you know, I mean just insanely old. And it does a. Yeah. And it's incredible. So it's definitely, it's good for perspective. Sure. Yeah. And I, you know, I wish that I traveled overseas more often, isn't something that I have made as much of a priority as a, I have friends for whom

Speaker 3: travel, this is just, you know, life well. But you've been busy, right? So we're gonna go ahead and fast forward to the fair funding. That's good. Public policy was. So then how did you kind of find your first kind of political type of a mobile campaign?

Speaker 4: Yeah. Yeah. Well, so when I graduated from college, I moved to New York and I started working for a nonprofit there that did, um, primarily work with, uh, people who were coming out of the criminal justice system coming out of prison and, and it was a lot of education and rehab and housing and all these kinds of services. And that was amazing. Um, but I moved to atlanta and I was looking around a job opportunities there and I got connected up to the democratic party of Georgia, which is an interesting, uh, you know, it's an interesting place to be. Um, you know, it was right on the tail end of what had been a long period of democratic control in Georgia and the democratic party used to have a very strong southern party. It was a very conservative different

Speaker 3: philosophically. Yes, we would think of it. This was before, you know, we, we've really moved now into a system where, you know, the national party is much more descriptive of the local candidates where it used to be that it was much more regional. Absolutely. So anyway, I, you know, I, april republicans in the north,

Speaker 4: right, right, exactly. You had, you had republicans in the northeast who were considerably more liberal than democrats in the south, um, and you just don't really see that anymore. Um, so I got involved with them, uh, on a staff level, got got hired on a kind of an entry level research job and that just turned out to be a really great fit. And I, um, I worked there for a bit and then worked on my first campaign there in Georgia in 2004. Yeah, that's right. Um, and loved it. Yeah. This was a senate race in Georgia. I'm the candidate was fairly long shot candidate, but she was the democratic nominee and I had never worked on a campaign before and really got to kind of plunge into that, uh, and found it really fascinating and decided that with them

Speaker 3: that I really wanted to do. Was it the. I'm always busy all the time, no matter if I'm not busy. Oh, right. I'll go do that other thing. Now I've got something else to do.

Speaker 4: Yeah. There's no question that we're working on a campaign a dominates your life. It does a, it's, it's not a coincidence that I ended a relationship during that campaign and then, you know, and a lot of other campaigns where relationships tend to kind of go in those cycles. It's a great, it's a great way to spend your twenties. Sure. It's amazing. You learn a ton, you can move up very quickly. You get involved in exciting things. Uh, it is very fast paced, um, and it does kind of consume your life in a big way. Um, I am very glad that I did it and I am very glad that I'm not doing it anymore because it's, it's exhausted. It is. I did it from 2004 through the 2008 cycle. I, w I was doing full campaign, like going from one campaign to the next was the last one.

Speaker 4: The last one was mark udall in Colorado. I was his communications director for his senate campaign in 2008. Yeah. And that was nice that he won in 2008 and um, and that was a really great, interesting campaign and also happened to bring me to Colorado for the first time, uh, which I had never been to the mountain west before I took that job. So discovered my love for Colorado and as it turns out, I met my now husband. We didn't start dating until much later. But uh, but that is where we met. Well we met, he was on the campaign. He was also staff living. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Are concerned. Is that where you met glen peterson fame? You know, I did not connections. All I'm saying, I did not know that actually now there were about four years. Well, so I, when I finished you'd all campaign.

Speaker 4: I moved to dc and I worked in state here. I did not know. I only spent the year that I was working on the campaign here in [inaudible] eight. And then I moved to dc. I spent a couple of years as a public affairs communications consultant and then a couple of years working with a media organization as their communications director. Um, and then during that last year and a half that I was there, I started dating my now husband who was still living in denver. Uh, and so it didn't turn itself on the relationship. There was some time in between where we were just friends and uh, but then ultimately, obviously we decided we wanted to be in the same place and I had done my four years in dc. I enjoyed my time in dc, but I was kind of at that point where I was either going to leave or I was going to become a lifer and I just didn't.

Speaker 4: I decided thAt wasn't what I wanted. And Colorado was calling, uh, and boy, you know, it, it's a great place to answer the call too. So I moved to dc, uh, at the end of 2012. Sorry, I moved to Colorado at the end of left dc and moved to Colorado at the end of 2012. I'm trying to think what was happening in Colorado in cannabis at the end of 2012. Nope. Nothing comes to a whole lot. So I was actually, of course. Well, yes, but you know, uh, it was, but it was in that sort of, in between time, right. Were there, they were having to craft all the regulations and all of that. This legal sales didn't start until 2014 of course. Um, so there was this interregnum you nowhere that the things that can 2015, we're kind, kinda just the rest of us are waiting. Waiting.

Speaker 4: Exactly. Right. And I didn't actually start working with ncia until almost a year after I moved to Colorado. Did you do first? I'm not a whole lot. I know I came out to Colorado and I, you know, I didn't have a job. I was movinG out, um, for my relationship and kind of decided that I was ready to leave dc and I wanted to kind of start fresh and see where the opportunities were. So I also decided to give myself a fair amount of time to just not, not put pressure on myself to find a job immediately and instead see what was out there and see, you know, and really not jump at the first opportunity but wait until something special came along. Sure. And that's what happened, which is amazing. All right,

Speaker 1: so, so, so here you are. Twenty 13. Wait, so did I meet aaron without you? I guess I, most of the first time I met him you wouldn't have been.

Speaker 4: So the first thing I did within cia and I was not actually hired yet, um, was I attended the marijuana business daily show that they held at emerald downs outside of seattle in 2013 right before they moved to vegas. So this was november of 2013. I had just started talking to aaron about this deputy director position because betty aldworth was leaving to head up ssdp and I had gotten introduced to him through, um, I skipped a whole thing where I actually did do some work in drug policy when I was in college. I interned with stop the drug war.org and got to know several folks through that that are still very active in the movement. And I'm one of those people actually introduced me to aaron and remaining nameless on purpose. No, no, it's a crystal out liquor who he's not directly, he's involved with some arcview things.

Speaker 4: Um, but he also started a energy company called renewable choice or boulder and, and was very involved in founding ssdp lot of teas. A lot of bells. Yes. Yes. I'm always a rolls right off the tongue. But uh, so yeah, I got to know chris back in college. So we were interns together back before he was a titan of industry and all of that. And uh, he introduced me to aaron and he and betty are close because he was on the board of directors for ssdp. And so erin and I had been introduced, we were talking about the possibility of me filling this role that betty was going to be leaving and I went to that show. Um, so I did a liTtle bit of part time work between then and the end of the year. But my first actual full time day was january one, 2014. Got to be kidding. Yeah. Yeah. Jumped right in. The first thing I did as a full time employee of ncaa Was go to a three d cannabis for the firsT legal sale in Colorado. It was incredible. Just jumping right into it.

Speaker 1: Alright. So then if you're officially in the industry on that day from an perspective,

Speaker 4: just take us back. We'd like to get these anecdotes. What was that day like for you? Oh my gosh. Well, it had started out kind of crazy because, um, my husband and I had gone to Idaho to visit his family for new year's. But of course I knew, you know, I need to be back january one for um, first, um, for the first sales and uh, on our way we had driven so that we can take the dog on our way back from Idaho. We were driving, it's 15 hours. We were doing the whole thing on new years eve. Uh, and just outside of salt lake city, the car broke down a catastrophic lee, so it wasn't going to be able to be driven. Oh, this is the end of the, uh, yeah. This is like, well, no, the car was able to be repaired, but it was going to take several days.

Speaker 4: Um, it was not something where we could just get it fixed and get back on the road. Thankfully we were outside salt lake city, so. And we had a friend who was living in salT lake city at the time, so he was able to come immediately to where we were, picked me up, drive me to the salt lake city airport so that I could hop on a flight to denver because otherwise I wasn't going to be home in time for the first day on my job and the first day of legal sales. It wasn't like, oh, I'm going to need to start my job one day later. Yeah, I'll be there on tuesday instead. And that wasn't really an option. So gosh, that was crazy. It was one of these things where the car breakdown on the day before I'm starting my new job on the day before history's being made would have been just absolutely devastating except that it could have been so much worse.

Speaker 4: The drive between Idaho and Colorado includes lots of mileage in the middle of. No, there's a lot of land there. Oh my god. And we could have easily broken down in one of those spots. The fact that we broke down in the parking lot of a wendy's in suburban salt lake where we had a friend and an airport with a direct connection to denver. Right. I mean, at that point I couldn't even be mad. I'm like, okay, if this is what life's going to deal me, I guess I can't really complain. That's it. So that was, it was crazy leading into that. I had some kind of terrible cold, you know, the whole thing. But I do remember I came down to a three d where they were. That was where the kind of official first sale is happening. Um, yeah, exactly. And um, you know, it was just, it was just so exciting.

Speaker 4: There was just this, it was dark when I got there. Um, and because I think they, I can, they were starting sales at seven or six. It was sometime very early in the morning and people were just lined up and it was, you know, it was obviously very festive, but also just a very real sense of accomplishment on the part of the people who had been working on this. And I'm always very aware of the fact that I was not the one who did this, you know, and I, and I, I am very fortunate to get to work with incredible people who did really put themselves on the line to make this happeN and I have Come in And hAve worked very hard on behalf of this industry since I started. But I'm also very aware that I don't, I don't get any credit for the fact that we got Colorado here and that there was this really extensive process to create a program that has, by and large worked incredibly successfully.

Speaker 4: So for me it was really a, a morning to step back and appreciate what so many of the other people there were celebrating and what you were getting yourself into. Absolutely. That too. Um, and it was just absolutely jam packed in there, you know, it's not a huge building. Um, and especially once the actual sale was happening, uh, you know, we all, anyone who wasn't a camera basically had to step back to let you know all the cameras get into the room and get that shot. Uh, but yeah, it was a beautiful thing and it was really, really impressive.

Speaker 5: So, so understanding that as your basis, that's day one, which is awesome. What I want to do is, is kind of a almost flashforward, but with a few snapshots along the way. You're, you come from policy, right? You understand that. Describe to me if you would, if you don't mind, 2014 lobby days, 2015 lobby days in 2016 lobby days. There are three lobby days in between and I think that's the best way to kind of understand the arc here that you've been a part of as we make our way into a lobby days to 27.

Speaker 4: Yeah, absolutely. It really is an amazing way to track the development of the industry as, as a, a political force and as a, the, the perception of the industry over the last few years. So that 2014 lobby days, um, I think we had about 50 people, which was great. That was a big, big group for us. Uh, and it was very much a, it was kind of our first step out of novelty, but we were, we still had one foot in the novelty world, you know, there was a tremendous amount of press interest because it was happening after the implementation of colorado's legal sales in Washington hadn't quite started yet, but they were about to write and there had been so much press interest around all of that that, you know, a group of cannabis professionals coming to dc. Here they come, here comes Mr. Smith. Exactly. And we had done, you know, this, this was not the 2014 a lobby days.

Speaker 4: We're not our first to lobby days, but they were getting more attention because of where we were. We had also, at this point, around the same time that I was hired, we hired michael Korea in Washington as our first full time lobbyists. So we had a presence in dc that we hadn't had before. I had some relationships with reporters and folks on the hill from my previous work in dc. So that was also interesting to people that know someone who had come from the dc political world was now in cannabis, righT? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Um, but it was still very much, you know, all of the stories were very much focused on, oh, how weird that they're not wearing tie dye and how weird that they're, they're not all like hippies with hair down to their waists. We're the cannabis people. Exactly. Who are these people?

Speaker 4: Yeah. And I will say, you know, we were doing meetings, I'm going into congressional offices as we do. Uh, but you could tell that in a lot of those meetings, the person you were meeting with was there junior legislative affairs person and on capitol hill that is a, almost an entry level position. You know, you maybe you used to answer the phones and now you're getting to do meetings, but it is to get on the phone with, if you call that office. Sure. How's a constituent? That's a good person for a face to face meeting and it's, look, it's a check the box meeting, right? Most of these offices, if they get a request from a constituent to meet, they will accommodate that. He doesn'T mean they're necessarily taking it seriously and when, when they, you know, if they're going to give you their junior staffer it say we took this meeting.

Speaker 4: Um, and that's, that's not in the invaluable is not the right word. That's not, um, nothing, nothing. exactly. You are still making your presence known. There is going to be a report of some kind given to someone about the meeting. So it's real, it's there, but you can also get a sense of kind of how seriously you're being taken by who it is that they've sent to meet with you. meeting with dave who's 18, right? um, and uh, so then, so that's 14, 15, we literally doubled our participation. So now we're up to 100 business owners from around the country coming in. we're doing these meetings. Suddenly, you know, we're not, the stories are not so much about how funny it is or how unique it is right now. We've got a members of congress coming and speaking at our press conference, we've got, um, members coming to a fundraiser that we do, you know, for our pack coming and speaking to folks at that, um, we've got meetings now with a staff for committees that are important for our issues and we've got pieces of legislation are on the floor, you know, or that have been introduced in the house and senate that are specific to our issues thanking bill to add bill.

Speaker 4: Um, you know, these are things that are real pieces of legislation, not just, you know, kind of coming in and waving around saying marijuana should be legal. We have a legislative strategy that we're, um, that we're putting forward and you can tell that people understand that we're now we're speaking their language, you know, we're doing the leg work that, that has to be done for any issue group. Uh, so that was really, that was a big jump, you know, from that 50 to 100 was a big jump. Big jump logistically too, you know, managing all those meetings and everything is, is a big piece of work that our government relations staff in dc, you know, have done really great work on. Sure. A lot of moving parts. Oh my goodness. Your schedules do change. Yes they do. Yes. They do have that forward to 60.

Speaker 4: Yeah. So 16 was last year. We were up to somewhere between 150 and 200 business owners or business people, cannabis professionals on the hill. It really begins to feel like a takeover, you know, wave. We had um, five or six members of congress that spoke at the press conference to the point where I was starting to worry that, you know, it was going to be too long. I'm at our pac fundraiser. We had only intended to have a couple of members of congress that had committed to coming and speaking and we actually had more show up because they heard about what was going on and they wanted to, you know, get an opportunity to speak to this crowd. Um, so we actually ended up having, I think seven members of congress come to the fundraiser and speak, uh, and you know, that's when, when you're doing these meetings on the hill, you're primarily meeting with staff, which is important because they are the people who ultimately are going to be making a lot of the decisions and pushing their boss in one way or another.

Speaker 4: But the people that get stuff done, they do, they do. Um, but having actual members of congress coming out for things like the press conference and the fundraiser, you know, not only is that incredibly important for our sort of relationships with them, but it also says a lot about the level of acceptance that there is now for the industry. Uh, you know, three years ago, a lot of those members, even if they supported us, would have been extremely nervous to be seen at a press conference with the cannabis industry. Absolutely. Right. And that, just, that's really starting to dissipate now. And you know, I, I don't think it's wrong for ncia to take some portion of the credit for that. And there's Tyler Taylor. There's lots of other work that's being done in addition to the work that we're doing, but certainly part of what our efforts are meant to do is to show lawmakers in dc who often are more conservative and in a small sisense, I'm about these kinds of things than almost anywhere else in the country to make them feel safe around us, you know, to help them see that these are small business owners, like any other small business owner and we're not trying to create a cultural chaos.

Speaker 4: We are creating a responsible, accountable, transparent industry that is under much more regulation and control in a legal sense than it ever has been in a criminal sense or were then than any other industry. Yes. Yes. And that we welcome those regulations. You know, I, I joke with people, you'll never find an industry more willing to be regulated than this one unless you want us to do. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 5: Um, and so we make our way into 2017. How does it look? What are we talking about? You know, how much do you know it's, it is still a few months away, but how much information do you have about how different it'll even be sure last year?

Speaker 4: Well, we're expecting, first of all, a large number of attendees this year for a couple of reasons. One is that, um, as it turns out, we are doing our lobby days the same week as the marijuana business daily spring show, which is going to be outside dc. Yeah. And that's been great. And, and the folks in marijuana business daily have been really great in working with us so that, uh, you know, we can allow people to kind of double up on their travel and be able to hit both, um, which is fantastic. Um, but also I think there is such a sense of urgency to be involved directly in political advocacy right now on the part of everyone that I think lobby days is going to be a really attractive option for people who really do have that urge to be heard. It's always been one of the events that our members tell us is their absolute favorite thing.

Speaker 4: Um, and I think this year with the sort of surprise around the election results, the, you know, continuing uncertainty around exactly how doj is going to handle things, um, but also the very real opportunities created by the fact that we won multiple additional states, we now have 60 percent of the country living in a, a regulated cannabis state, which means we've gotten majorities in both the house and the senate representing cannabis states. There are huge opportunities here to push forward with our agenda, um, especially on things like banking and to add reform that, you know, it's that combination of really wanting, having that urgency to do something and also having very real opportunities to get something done. Yeah. So I'm expecting it to be a very, a very busy one and I hope a very effective one.

Speaker 5: Okay. So get some rest.

Speaker 4: Yes. And that goes for anyone who's planning on attending a lobby days because yeah, it's going to be, it's going to be a whirlwind that week.

Speaker 5: There you go. Um, you know, we could continue for a few more hours, but it's probably best to ask you the final three questions. I'll tell you what they are and I'll ask you them in order. Okay. So, uh, what has most surprised you in cannabis? What has most surprised you in life? And on the soundtrack of taylor? Taylor was life was one track, one song that's got to be on there. But first things first, what has most surprised you in cannabis?

Speaker 4: Man? So many things. Um, all of the things I know it's, it's crazy. There are a lot of things about it that are very different, you know, I should say I am not, have not been a heavy cannabis consumer in my life and I certainly didn't grow up in any kind of sort of cannabis cannabis culture. Yeah. Um, and so in some ways, despite having done some work in the drug policy reform world, coming in to this job was a very new, you know, introduction to the world of cannabis and it has been just an amazing experience. How warm and friendly and fun and interesting the people in this industry are. You know, I used to tell people I'm mrs. Less true now than it was even three years ago when I started. But you know, I would tell people who are asking me what it was like that either people in this industry are incredibly smart, incredibly driven.

Speaker 4: You have to be, you can't, it's too difficult and too challenging of a world to be in to succeed unless you're very smart and very ambitious and driven. Um, but everyone's just like a half degree cracked and I mean that in the best way possible. Like you had to be a risk taker, especially like I said, especially three years ago and earlier than that, you really had to be willing to take on some pretty significant risks to be involved in the industry. And you also just had to be an interesting outside the box kind of person because who gets involved in a industry that's illegal at the federal level if you're not like just a half degree cracked. but it also means they're creative and funny and interesting in ways that people in other industries just aren't over 200 episodes that prove your point. Yeah, exactly. No.

Speaker 4: And it's just fantastic because it means it's never boring right there. And, and, and I hope that that doesn't sound at all kind of sending because it's not what I need any other estate that they, everyone has an interesting story. You know, there was no, there's no straight line that takes you from birth to cannabis industry now. Now there is no, there is. Right. But just spoke to a guy who's got a license who went to school to be in the cannabis sector. He's young enough that he could get on that path. There you go. What has most surprised you in life? Tailored. Oh boy. How is a big one? Um, it's, it could be the biggest one. Yeah, it's true. You know, I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I have been surprised at how different my perspective on life is now than it, it was, you know, 10 years ago and 10 years before that, you know, and it's such a, like an obvious thing, but talk more about that.

Speaker 4: So you know, when you're a teenager, you're so sure that you know exactly what your life is gonna look like and exactly what's going to make you happy and what's going to be your important things. You're so sure. And you also know everything. Oh absolutely. And you see other people that are doing it differently and you just think like, yeah, no, I, I wouldn't, I would never make those choices or I wouldn't be happy if I was doing that. Um, and then, you know, obviously you get through college and into your twenties and you realize that some of those things were not totally well informed, but you still kind of feel like, okay, well now I know who I am and I know like here's the path I want to be on and when I get to this point, that's what I'm, that's what I'm going to be happy.

Speaker 4: And that's what I want to do. This is when this is going to happen. I'm 25 now and basically like I've got it figured out now this is what I want to do. I just need to follow this path. And then, you know, things come along and completely changed things all over again and now I'm 37 and it's, you know, I'm now, I realize not only obviously how idiotic I was when I was a teenager to think that, but even how 10 years ago, I had no idea the things that I would start to prioritize, um, in ways that look much more like the people that I kind of rolled my eyes at when I was a teenager, you know. Um, and some of that is things like, you know, moving to Colorado, it's a very different world than even the world I was living in dc, you know, in dc, there are a lot of great things about dc, but there's also a very clear kind of path if everybody's sort of on the same ladder or at least on ladders that are climbing towards similar things.

Speaker 4: Yeah. And there's a certain, you know, everybody's kind of floating in that same world. And then I get out here and um, my, like, my social group is so different here. Um, and it's amazing. You know, there are, I have the full spectrum of people are taking completely different approaches to their life pads and you realize, guess what, they're also happy, you know, and it just, I don't know if this is a surprise so much as it's just such good perspective to realize like there are so many different ways to make a happy life and it's really great to kind of realize that there is. There are so many different ways because it's sort of reassuring and also really good for perspective because it's not good to get locked in. That's very positive. That's extremely, you know, I, I, I feel good. I look, I've been very fortunate.

Speaker 4: I don't have complaints. Um, and certainly, you know, being a part of this industry is yet another way where you meet. Like I was talking about people who didn't travel in a straight line and it's really valuable for somebody who spent a lot of my life feeling like I had to be on that straight line to get where I wanted to go, uh, to be around a lot of people who, who didn't do that and are in great places. Yeah. Really great. Awesome. Either the toughest question of the soundtrack of your life. One track one song that's got one track, one song. This is tough. Um, so I can tell you the band for sure. Um, so it's band called the drive by truckers. They are a southerN roCk band out of athens, georgIA. You know tHe truckers, I believe from the nineties. Well actually, interestingly, they have an album out right now that has been one of their biggest best reviewed.

Speaker 4: It's a very political album, which they've always been very keen observers of sort of society and small town, um, and kind of southern but, but not exclusively southern. More that, that sort of working class out outlook, but just very, very. I either the storytelling that is just beautiful. I could talk about them forever, but they have this album out right now. That's amazing. They've really embraced a lot of the, um, the black lives matter, um, destroyers. It's feeling. Absolutely no, I mean they, they are, they very, while they are from the south and they have an identity in the south, their entire identity is around challenging what that means and really putting forth a progressive viewpoint. It, I don't want to lump them in as if they're some kind of a southern fried band. They have a very, very interesting outlook on, on what it means to be from the south and then also Just what is happening in the country and all those kinds of things.

Speaker 4: But the reason that they have to be the band is not just that they are amazing even though they are a, they are the reason that my husband and I, uh, eventually got met and kind of got together. Uh, we have to ask that question. You can't do it the final question, but now I've got to go back on. Alright, fair enough. so I was trying to make this quick. So, um, when I started working on the campaign, uh, ryan was already working for them and on one of my first days I was talking to someone else, not him. I'm on the campaign, but he was sitting nearby and the truckers had just put out an album called brighter than creation's dark. This was 2008 and I was talking to another person on the campaign about how I had gone to a record store here in denver.

Speaker 4: I had just moved to denver. I had gone to wax tracks here in denver and they didn't have it and I was, it would have been the cd at that point. And um, I was kind of, I was saying to her, I was like, I was pretty bummed that I couldn't find it. Um, but they're going to be playing up in boulder, uh, you know, they were coming in a couple of weeks or something like that and she hadn't heard of them. I hadn't even Said the name of the band. she was just asking me what, what they, who they were. And I was kind of explaining to them now, particularly articulately, much like I just did this southern rock band that whatever, and ryan heard me and he kind of piped into the conversation and said, are you talking about the drive by truckers?

Speaker 4: And I said yes, like, that's crazy. And he literally had a copy of the cd that I was looking for and he's like, I'll just burn you a copy of it, which is terrible now that I think about it, like, what should have burned it? I should have bought it, but we've been to enough shows since then. I think we made it in the fact that it was out of stock. That's right. That's right. Um, and that is actually how we, that that was the first conversation we ever had. And um, and then we worked together, but to the extent that we spent any time outside the office, it was, we went to, we both went to that show in boulder and we just, the truckers are kind of the glue that, that we originally kind of bonded over. Um, so, but it's so hard to piCk. Just say this is probably gone onto your phone. That's good. It's essentially what we're looking for with that question is, you know, the emotions around it. Not necessarily the name of the track, but I will say this, I love the fact that you point out of band that's kind of trying to break out of the bubbles reception, which is what to do. Circle teller west. Thank you so much. Thank you. This was great. I really enjoyed it. Absolutely. Likewise.

Speaker 1: And there you have taylor west. Always fun to, uh, discuss January 1st, 2014. Also. Very interesting to hear kind of taylor's background and, and how she feels about it and her understanding of what reality is. I feel like a good idea for us to hold it. Try to get on the same page as far as reality. Thanks 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.