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Ep.261: Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.261: Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman

Ep.261: Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman

Recorded on his farm, Lieutenant Governor, David Zuckerman joins us to discuss the history of cannabis in Vermont as well as his unique story. Dave, as he’s also known, has 20 acres of organic vegetables and raises organic hogs, chickens and grain and either when on or off the farm, the Lieutenant Governor is thinking about day to day choices regarding our personal impact. Regarding politics, he volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 1992 and was asked to run in 1994 and lost by only 59 votes. He was appointed to the local electric commission was elected to the house1996 served for 14 years, ran for and then served in the senate for four years which brought him to running and winning the Lieutenant Governorship this past November.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: for lieutenant governor recorded it on his farm. The Senate governor David Zuckerman joins us to discuss the history of cannabis in Vermont as well as his unique story, Dave, as he's also known as 20 acres of organic vegetables and raises organic hogs, chickens and grain, and either one on or off the farm. Lieutenant Governor is thinking about the day to day choices regarding our personal impact on the environment regarding politics. He volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 1992. I was asked to run in 1994. Last by 59 votes, was appointed to the local electric commission, was elected to the house in 1996 surfer 14 years, ran Ford then served in the Senate for four years, which brought him to running and winning the lieutenant governorship this past November, woken the cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the handicapped economy. That's two ends and the word economy. Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. You've done this. Maybe one second.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Some people you ask questions that probably aren't as used to being filmed or whatever, but short and in elected office for 19 years, so I'm a little bit used to the reporter even though you're not a reporter, but this kind of situation. And thank you for pointing that out. I just kind of, we just had that conversation. So lieutenant governor, what do I call you? Dave or one radio station knows, calls me LGC, LGC last name Zuckerman course. Yep. Does that make you part of the tribe or would say lg Dez from vet if you really want to get hip hop on it? Um, I, my father is a member of the tribe. Uh, my mom is 10 generation New England Yankee, White Anglo Saxon Protestants. Since we can't use slang terms. No, I'm, but I'm a little more on ish side to Jewish, right? Yeah, sure. Fair enough.

Speaker 2: But I grew up in Brookline, mass. So, uh, sort of the northern branch of the tribe from New York City. When did you make it up here to Fremont? I came up in 1989 to go to college at Uvm and never left. That would have been, and I didn't mean to go here, but that would have been when fish was a fish was, well they were I think off campus at that point, but just getting, getting, going and uh, definitely. Yeah. All right, so you've got those a bone few days I'm sure. A few, a few. I was not as much of a fish head as others at the time. I actually started school as a chemistry major, so I was on the nerd side and wasn't going out every night to the shows. Plus I wasn't 21 and some of the ID stuff was tough. Got It, got it.

Speaker 2: Uh, I, I just walked by a nectars and poked my head right just for fun just to see of course. Um, but science though, you know, I'm, I'm looking at a farmer which we'll get into. Um, what was the relationship there? When did you find that? I've always been sort of a mathy scientific logic kind of person. My Dad was a doctor. I thought I was going to go into medicine after a year of working in the labs while studying, but also being a social activist on campus, I realized that my passion was not to be indoors all the time. And as an environmental studies minor, I had actually started learning a lot about the impact of agriculture on our environment and our climate. I learned about genetic engineering and food at that point in time and the increased chemical uses that was gonna lead to with some of those crops being very much raised to be a pesticide and herbicide resistant or exude a pesticide.

Speaker 1: for lieutenant governor recorded it on his farm. The Senate governor David Zuckerman joins us to discuss the history of cannabis in Vermont as well as his unique story, Dave, as he's also known as 20 acres of organic vegetables and raises organic hogs, chickens and grain, and either one on or off the farm. Lieutenant Governor is thinking about the day to day choices regarding our personal impact on the environment regarding politics. He volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 1992. I was asked to run in 1994. Last by 59 votes, was appointed to the local electric commission, was elected to the house in 1996 surfer 14 years, ran Ford then served in the Senate for four years, which brought him to running and winning the lieutenant governorship this past November, woken the cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the handicapped economy. That's two ends and the word economy. Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. You've done this. Maybe one second.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Some people you ask questions that probably aren't as used to being filmed or whatever, but short and in elected office for 19 years, so I'm a little bit used to the reporter even though you're not a reporter, but this kind of situation. And thank you for pointing that out. I just kind of, we just had that conversation. So lieutenant governor, what do I call you? Dave or one radio station knows, calls me LGC, LGC last name Zuckerman course. Yep. Does that make you part of the tribe or would say lg Dez from vet if you really want to get hip hop on it? Um, I, my father is a member of the tribe. Uh, my mom is 10 generation New England Yankee, White Anglo Saxon Protestants. Since we can't use slang terms. No, I'm, but I'm a little more on ish side to Jewish, right? Yeah, sure. Fair enough.

Speaker 2: But I grew up in Brookline, mass. So, uh, sort of the northern branch of the tribe from New York City. When did you make it up here to Fremont? I came up in 1989 to go to college at Uvm and never left. That would have been, and I didn't mean to go here, but that would have been when fish was a fish was, well they were I think off campus at that point, but just getting, getting, going and uh, definitely. Yeah. All right, so you've got those a bone few days I'm sure. A few, a few. I was not as much of a fish head as others at the time. I actually started school as a chemistry major, so I was on the nerd side and wasn't going out every night to the shows. Plus I wasn't 21 and some of the ID stuff was tough. Got It, got it.

Speaker 2: Uh, I, I just walked by a nectars and poked my head right just for fun just to see of course. Um, but science though, you know, I'm, I'm looking at a farmer which we'll get into. Um, what was the relationship there? When did you find that? I've always been sort of a mathy scientific logic kind of person. My Dad was a doctor. I thought I was going to go into medicine after a year of working in the labs while studying, but also being a social activist on campus, I realized that my passion was not to be indoors all the time. And as an environmental studies minor, I had actually started learning a lot about the impact of agriculture on our environment and our climate. I learned about genetic engineering and food at that point in time and the increased chemical uses that was gonna lead to with some of those crops being very much raised to be a pesticide and herbicide resistant or exude a pesticide.

Speaker 2: Uh, and that drew some concerns for me, uh, and in [inaudible] 92, I learned about Bernie Sanders, who is our independent congressman and I got excited about electoral politics and not just activist politics as what I had been doing and learn that, oh, you can be an office and say what you believe and hold on to your integrity and not take corporate donations. And uh, so that was sort of a new thing because I was cynical as many art today and I'm. So I switched to being an environmental studies major and learned more about ag, got involved in some farms in the summers and it all went from there. Yeah. When did you get. So we are. I mean it can't be. We're sitting at a picnic table on your farm and it can't be more beautiful. Something that comes off real well on a podcast, which exactly.

Speaker 2: Well, there's different huge greens out there with a fresh spring Greens and some mountains in the background of the little valley, which is where the sun rises every morning. We call that the sunrise channel from our bedroom, which is on the third floor of those silos right there. We converted to silos into a house and the feet of our bed look out to the east so we can see the sunrise every morning. That was very well done. Thank you. Yeah. That's not a radio host, but maybe that's my next career. Exactly. That's exactly right. So when you left with the environmental studies, you know, degree it. While I guess you didn't leave, did you know? I, I feel like our practice that everyday in producing organic vegetables, we do about 20 acres of vegetables. We raise organic hogs, a organic chickens, those are both pastured as well, but get organic grain and I'm just trying to, uh, you know, utilize, I do utilize some of the science as well.

Speaker 2: Um, soil chemistry, what you've got for nutrients is important. Um, but as an environmental studies major, just really thinking about day to day choices and the choices we make every day. Each one is very small, but we clearly have a cumulative effect both as the sort of highly consumptive US citizens that we are, but as world citizens, you know, now if there's six, 7 billion of us, each one of us makes different decisions and they have impacts. There was just a bunch of news on the climate accord, which, uh, you know, we'll get into that if we can. I want to kind of stay on topic. I want to find where you found politics. You mentioned Bernie was an inspiration. W when did you, yourself kind of say, hey, you know, here are things that I believe maybe I should be speaking about them on a public pulpit?

Speaker 2: Well, my mom was on the school board growing up, so I actually sort of shunned the idea of elected office at that time. It took away from family and I, I feel for my 11 year old daughter and my spouse for the time, the politics takes up a, as a family age to political figure at 45 years old. But as a student at Uvm, I volunteered for, like I said, for Bernie and [inaudible] 92 that introduced me to a number of local folks who at the time were part of a third or independent party movement at the time was called the Progressive Coalition. Uh, and I've met all these other people with similar values with a interest in not having money be the dominant factor in political decision making, but actually people's wellbeing, uh, economic equality, environmental issues, social justice issues. And uh, I actually was asked to run in [inaudible] 94 for the State House.

Speaker 2: I lost by 59 votes. Uh, I then got, I'm not that you were counting, right? Yeah, right. Uh, it was out of about four and a half thousand know smaller districts here certainly than a lot of places. Uh, I then got appointed to the local electric commission, which is a public utility and we worked on extracting ourselves from a contract with Vermont Yankee, which was a nuclear power plant and moving towards all purchasing of renewable energy that the Burlington Electric Company is now broadly electric department is 100 percent renewable energy. Uh, and so I was involved with that for a couple of years, ran in [inaudible] 96 and one served in the house for 14 years before we were able to move out of Burlington and buy this land. So I left politics for two years, then a Senate seat opened up. I ran and got elected, served in the Senate for four years and last fall, while I had some reason to be excited in November with my election for lieutenant governor, it was overcast by the dark cloud of, of, uh, you know, alternative universe, trump world.

Speaker 2: And uh, we're now dealing with that. Yeah. So, um, how Senate then lieutenant governor, as far as the energy thing I've been driving around and noticing that there are a ton of solar which are not supposed to work. Right? Well, I mean Germany has got more gray than we do and they've got tons of renewable solar energy. So we're 100 percent here in Vermont based on solar or what is it? No, no, no. Burlington Electric Department. Yeah. Which is one sec when one of the utilities in Vermont is now buying a 100 percent renewable energy, some from Vermont, some from Canada with hydro, which some of it's a large enough scale. There's debate about how sort of socially responsible that is. But Vermont has a very strong, uh, renewable energy incentive program, although that's been weakened a little bit lately. We've got a few uh, industrial wind turbine facilities, only one you could see from nearby here.

Speaker 2: And then a number of larger solar arrays as well as a number of residential and business. I'm actually exploring it with our farm. Last year I was going to go there, but running statewide was my. Took more time than I had to be able to make sure I was making the right decisions. There's only, yeah, there's a list of to do things and you know, one has to get done before we check off the other one. So this year we're building a pavilion for the farm for farm events, pig roasts and we'll be able to hit that with an ice south slope. And my equipment barn has a good south slope so we'll, we'll be getting some by the end of the year here. There we go. A tent pole kind of issues in the house. I want to take them one at a time. You know, when you were first elected, what were the issues that were, you know, kind of most important?

Speaker 2: Well, ironically, climate change and also cannabis reform. My poster on the Uvm campus was a black and white poster and when hand markers underneath the long name, last name of Zuckerman, we had green, yellow and red stripes. Now, partly that was a political tactic. A lot of students are more and younger people are more interested in cannabis reform issues, but also I was well aware of the propaganda since the thirties of why it was illegal, some of the actions through the thirties with the hearst paper company and the battle between timber industry in the hemp fields, uh, but then also up through late sixties and seventies with Nixon's work and I think it was the atwater commission where they said, really this shouldn't be illegal, but for political reasons to both suppress the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement, they continued it and continue to incarcerate people.

Speaker 2: Then of course the war on drugs under Reagan was just ridiculous. And we look at our incarceration rates, so from a, both social justice, economic justice and environmental justice reasons. A reforming cannabis laws was a piece of my, my efforts, but environment and an economic justice were big as well. And how soon were you able to maybe even put some legislation in or was it just about kind of. Because we're talking about the late nineties, we're still having a tough time in 2017. What were you able to do in the late nineties as the kind of, uh, has moved into the new millennium there in the house? Well, I was introducing legislation particularly on medical cannabis, and in 2003, in 2004, we were able to pass a law in Vermont that became law over the objections of a Republican governor, a who led it become law without his signature, which was what we thought was gonna happen with this bill, that the governor not being a big fan, but recognizing that well over the majority of people were supporting it would say, okay, I'm not going to give it my signature of approval, but I'm also not going to get in its way.

Speaker 2: I'll let it become law without his signature. So we do have a medical law that went into effect in 2003 and four a or it was passed in 2004. And, uh, that has been adjusted over time. It's one of the most conservative medical laws in the country in terms of how much you can grow or how, how many, um, if you have a personal provider who grows for you because you're not able to, they can only have one person they're growing for where Colorado, you could have a medical facility that's growing for hundreds of people and frankly, that's where a lot of the gray market cannabis is coming from, uh, in this day and age in Colorado, the underground markets being fed by the medical system which is not taxed. So we're learning from that, that in some respects, having a conservative medical system will actually make a tax and regulate system more effective here, um, because it really will move most of it into that, that scenario in terms of track and trace and, you know, insurance to sail.

Speaker 2: There we go. Um, so congratulations on that. Fantastic. You know, kind of a half step, if you will, it continue to change the perception as people see their, their parents or grandparents were using cannabis for Canada, for, um, you know, chemotherapy treatment or using cannabis for a severe aches and pains that have opioids, which we have this tremendous problem in Vermont and across the country with prescribed opioids leading to heroin because it's cheaper. Uh, once you're addicted and you know, the Oxycontin is too expensive, uh, you know, as people see the role that cannabis can play in that it doesn't create a blog that you can be a fully functioning member of society. Having smoked cannabis the night before, just as you may have had a few beers or a Martini the night before, or even low grade THC, but high cbd strains that you can use to suppress pain issues or deal with epileptic scenarios and still go to work and be functioning as more people see colleagues, friends and family in those scenarios.

Speaker 2: Then the propaganda picture of what cannabis is continues to get eroded. Totally. When you say creative Blob, you mean making the person a blog? Right. Just sit there and not the blob that a New York, but, but that someone is so stoned all the time that they're useless. Sure. That's gonna happen with a few people, but the vast majority of that's not what happens. Well, that's, you know, uh, we can take this tangent if we, uh, if there's something to think about, which is, you know, that blob sitting on the couch, that's what, you know, kind of maybe even the governor of this state sees when he thinks about cannabis and it's actually, you know, uh, opiates and opioids. So that'll do that as opposed to cannabis. Do you have any general thoughts? There are. Well, I think it is very challenging and the political climate when we have such an opiate problem, uh, that the general public does sometimes have, in particular, I should say actually the politicians, the public has a better idea of how to separate the two.

Speaker 2: Certainly politicians just see it as, Oh, if I do anything on cannabis, I'm weak on drugs and it, it, I banged my head against the wall because I've been getting attacked by the Republican Party. Not by the governor, he and I have a good relationship personally. Both decent people. Um, we have differences of views on issues. Sure. We don't attack each other. The Republican Party attacks me on a regular basis. You should be focused on the economy. I can't believe you're bad on drugs. It's like, well, actually this is both a, the biggest economic development bill. The state of Vermont would see in 15 to 20 years of ran a tax and regulate law. We would actually have economic resources for treatment of opiates. We'd have economic resources for, um, expanding broadband into rural areas, helping our rural economy, which is where we're really struggling. We had, we would have economic resources for higher education where Vermont has one of the highest rates of high school graduates and one of the lowest rates of then continuing on to secondary education and higher education.

Speaker 2: And if we actually had funding for our state colleges, which we would have, then we could make secondary and higher education, more accessible for first generation students. So I get attacked and upside down world for exactly what a tax and regulate bill would lead to. And the now we have the benefit of these things that you're saying aren't. If you, uh, we'll forgive it, hippy dippy bullshit. You're basing it on what has happened in states like Colorado. Absolutely. No, there's no doubt. We know that from a study we commissioned four years ago in Vermont, that there is a 120 to $200, million dollar underground economy in Vermont, which in some states that's very small in Vermont. That's a lot of money and we just got a fiscal note from our joint fiscal office which works with legislature that estimates there's about a 350 to $400,000,000 economic impact.

Speaker 2: If we were to bring this underground economy above board, not only is it the economy of cannabis, but it's the added tourists that would come to Vermont. We actually, again, back to upside down world, we greatly market are microbrews in Vermont and all this great, uh, alcohol that we have here and these great varieties of beer and people come up for beer tours. That's a wonderful thing. Sure. God forbid we had a cannabis tour and Vermont, which is already known in the east for having high quality underground cannabis, bring it above board and lead the way and we would again have the micro strains of cannabis that would draw people to Vermont and why would, well they might come and go skiing, they might come and go mountain biking, they might come and go, you know, camp at our campgrounds and eat out at our restaurants.

Speaker 2: And so there's other economic impact that it would have. Well beyond just the money that would be in the cannabis industry itself. Yeah. It goes on and on and on. It goes on. Ripples out if you will. So, uh, as far as your time in the Senate, um, you know, any kind of tweaks to that, a cannabis bill that you passed in the house, um, if so, if not, other issues that were near and dear and that you were really working on. Well, there's a number of things. I was the lead sponsor on GMO legislation for a long time and last year folks may have seen in some national news discussion about Vermont's Gmo labeling law and, uh, we were the first day that, gosh, if I say if you have gmo in your food, it shall be labeled and it held up in the first round of court, the GMO manufactured food chemical industry all fought hard and we're losing.

Speaker 2: So instead they bought off Washington and got a law in Washington to override our law, create a Swiss cheese labeling law in Washington with no teeth, no enforcement, uh, you could drive a truck through the holes in the cheese, uh, which is really frustrating. Uh, I've worked a lot on renewable energy. I've worked a lot on universal healthcare. Um, you know, economic justice issues are front and center. A lot of people have a hard time thing about renewable energy or climate change or our environmental footprint when they can't afford to put food on their table. Sure. So until we deal with economic justice, we're not going to be able to resolve a lot of our environmental injustices, but cannabis reform is one of those. It's both economic justice, bring it above board, have people pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us who are working in businesses that do as well as a social justice.

Speaker 2: You know, our incarceration rates. The expense of incarcerating people for minor offenses is ridiculous. And we don't have criminalized cannabis for small possession anymore. We do have a decrim lawn, Vermont, but if you're out on parole, you don't violate parole by having a beer, but you do violate parole by smoking a joint. Now you're back in jail. That's going to cost societal. It's decriminalized $60,000. Well, it's often a condition of parole and so $60,000 a year to put a male in jails. $80,000, 79 and put a female in prison. It's not smart economics. It's not smart conservative thinking, you want smaller government? Let's put fewer of these people in jail. Let's save that money. Let's lower taxes or invest in economic development and make these help these people become productive members of society again. So all of these things are pretty interrelated. You mentioned it's not smart conservative politics or it's just not a smart conservative budget making now economics in any way when you provide these kinds of counterarguments or even just a point of view to your Republican colleagues.

Speaker 2: Again, we're leaving the governor out, but other folks in the Republican Party here in Vermont, what's their kind of response to what A. Well, I think it's important to point out this is not actually an overly partisan issue in the Senate. There are seven Republicans and two of them voted for the bill, so that's almost 33 percent. So, um, I think this is one of those issues we can pull away from partisan lines in the house, unfortunately a little more so or less so for them or whatever. Well, they're more partisan. That's what I'm saying. Yeah. Unfortunately, uh, but we also lost almost a dozen over a dozen Democrats. Um, at first they could barely passed the bill that you weren't getting to 75 votes because they couldn't even get. There's 86 democrats, there's seven progressives. There's number of independence and they couldn't get the 75. So that brings up the vote, which was very close.

Speaker 2: They did pass it. Now this is the kind of current cannabis law that we were going that we thought was going to happen. Yeah. And the governor just vetoed it. And so we're going to talk about that in a moment, but you're talking about those numbers. You're talking about counting votes. Why were votes last? What was the hangup? You know, there's just still a lot of the myths and beliefs. We do have some high school guidance counselors and drug counselors who are very vocal. Um, you know, they think this is the worst thing ever. It sends a bad message to young people. I point out that right now, young people can get cannabis more easily than they can get alcohol. You know, we're not debating whether or not cannabis will exist or won't exist. We're debating what's the best way to manage it. In our society right now, it's completely unmanaged.

Speaker 2: People get it from, I'm a drug dealer, many in Vermont are small growers who only raised cannabis and so it's not quite what people picture as a, you know, evil drug dealer who's got all kinds of drugs, but some of them are, and they may not raise it cleanly. I made of an herbicide or pesticide on it. They're not testing it. There's no testing for straight. So every time people go to buy it, it could be a stronger strain. It could be a week or strain, none of which is going to kill you for being a strong strain, which is important for people to know. Like, okay, so you spoke really strong pot, you get really, really high and you fall asleep, you know, but um, but it's still good to know what you're consuming. And we know in alcohol three point three percent alcohol, five point seven, eight point nine, 13 percent wine.

Speaker 2: Why wouldn't we want to know that if we're consuming cannabis, it just seems like common sense. But the drug counselors are in this, you know, either pot is good or bad. And it exists or doesn't exist mentality. And what's really funny is some of them argue and they're very honest in their concern. Uh, and so I don't want to. It's not a various thing. No, they were very concerned. They think this is a very bad thing. And um, and they're very concerned about straight. That's so much stronger today than it was 20 years ago when David, you were smoking it in college and so forth. Is that fair enough? But that all happened in the underground scenario, right? Wouldn't we rather it be above board and know, Oh, some people want five percent and not 16 percent cannabis, right? People would then grow that. People will then buy that, but they would know what they were getting.

Speaker 2: So the, I think you'd be able to manage this to your point, you'd be able to manage exactly how strong whatever. And so there's, there's a strong contingent of guidance counselors and there's a strong contingent of older people and more conservative people. The everyday folks that I know out there and, and online, I've had rock solid Republican say, you know, I voted for you because of this issue and I'm now really mad at the governor for vetoing this and I'll never vote for him again. How many of those there are, you know, it's hard to know. Uh, but it's not an insignificant number. And again, there's plenty of people that work hard every day and you know, smoke joint at night and uh, or on the weekend or even before they started working well on some arm like this, I'd love to. Well, you know, we don't on our farm because I do want clear mind and productivity and efficiency and I think, you know, there's certainly, um, you know, I know carpenters who drink a beer at lunch and some smoke a bowl at lunch and, you know, there's a real concern by some in the, uh, in the commerce arena who don't want their employees showing up driving a forklift, you know, high on shores or machinery.

Speaker 2: We can agree. Um, you know, so there are some in certainly the, uh, the Chamber of Commerce that are concerned. It's a fairly split group and then again, anybody who has a relative who's had a particularly opiate addiction in Vermont, all of us know someone who's been addicted, some who have died and that concern is very real. It, it's very visceral. And so any drug a is a concern even though it's, it's important to parse out the different drugs and how addictive they are, what the costs are, what the human impacts are. But um, you know, there's a range of reasons they give, uh, some of which have some elements of truth to them. So let's address those elements of truth being. Well, certainly there's a, there's a handful of people out there for whom cannabis is mentally addictive and who it makes into, you know, nonproductive folks, whether it be for their family or for their workplace scenario, meaning not scientifically or medically addictive, just mentally addictive.

Speaker 2: Well, you know, video games can be addicted. I mean, there's, I think physiological addiction is one thing. Mental addiction is another. They're both very real. I'm sure, uh, you know, alcohol and opiates, there's a very physiological chemical addiction for others. It is a mental addiction, but that is still a real thing. And so, you know, it's a small percentage and I would argue for a couple of years in college I've smoked too much cannabis, uh, whether I was addicted or not, I didn't see the impact it was having on me. On the other hand, I came through that I didn't need coaching, counseling, drug intervention to do it. Uh, I came through it now, some don't come through something. There are some people watching who needs some coaching and some support, some education. Sure. Uh, and, and sometimes more than education, sometimes you know, real side by side support a family member or a friend who's going to help them see that they can have fun without cannabis.

Speaker 2: Sure. No, or whatnot. Just just like alcohol without all the car accidents. You know, that's an important point. One of the arenas that the governor has brought up is, you know, safety on our roads and they brought up safety of kids in a car with people smoking. And I point out how often do you drive by a car with the windows rolled up with it's so smoky that you can't see the kid in the backseat where they're getting such a second hand quantity that it's going to impact them. You don't see that. But driving and people being safe on the roads is a real fear. And again, in politics, sometimes people play on fears more than fact. And uh, you know, the secondhand smoke, it was brought up on the floor of the Senate by a very addictive cigarette smoker that the issue of secondhand smoke.

Speaker 2: And you know, it's one thing having a glass of wine year kid in the cradle. What about if you're having a joint? I said, well, right now, well, I didn't say anything because I'm preside over the Senate. So I don't debate anymore. It's very hard for me. But I would have said, yeah, well, you know, right now people go would stay inside to smoke a joint because they don't want to be outside because it's illegal. They actually would very likely go smoke on the back porch if they knew that no one was going to care. Uh, so if you don't want people smoking around children in a confined space, legalize it. There you go. You actually would have people going outside to smoke as opposed to staying inside. So here are all the issues were kind of talking through them and uh, you know, it was a close vote, but the, you gave some reasons why folks were, had to kind of come out against it, why some folks went in and were for it, you know.

Speaker 2: Uh, best thing is to see cannabis work as medicine and in your own family. Right? Right. So you're presiding over the Senate. We go ahead and pass it goes up to the governor. I guess you would be the best person maybe to tell us what, what do you think happened? What has he told you explicitly and, and where are we now? Will every state. Let me give a little nugget of background where every state is different. Many the governor and lieutenant governor are running as a ticket. Sometimes it's an arranged marriage where they were separate primaries and then they're running together on the same party. Sometimes they've run together from the get go or the governor picks lieutenant governor in Vermont. They are two entirely independent races. So we have a Phil Scott who is a new England Republican, a fairly rational and reasonable person. I'm a that got elected governor and I am a progressive slash Democrat member of a third party and Democratic Party are one both primaries in Vermont, uh, and uh, serving as lieutenant governor.

Speaker 2: So we did not run together. We do serve together, uh, the governor has completely at his or her discretion the opportunity to bring the lieutenant governor into as much political or administrative roles as they want or not. And in this particular case, uh, the governor has not particularly brought me into those kinds of conversations, which on the political ones I completely understand because we don't see eye to eye on 70 percent of the issues and it's not really his place to have to reveal his cards. Should be before he's going to put them out there, uh, on the other side on administering government. Um, I would hope and we're still working on him bringing me more into the fold because one of my criteria are my jobs is if he becomes incapacitated, I become governor. I got to know what's going on. It'd be good if I got the same memos that the secretaries and the deputy secretaries and the commissioners were getting about what's happening across state government.

Speaker 2: But that's another story for another day. Um, with respect to this legislation. Many of us were guessing. He was hinting that he had some concerns, uh, but he also had a libertarian streak and felt like grow and home possession and use wasn't really a big deal what you do in your own home. Uh, and so many of us thought he was going to take the third way out. There's veto there. Sign in Vermont. A bill can become law without a governor's signature, as you mentioned before. And we thought that might be the route he was going to take a. The day before he made his announcement, he indicated he was not going to take that route, which made a lot of us are concerned, but he never really spoke with me specifically about his concerns, asked me why they should or shouldn't be valid or are valid or not valid.

Speaker 2: Um, he's not really, I'm not his counsel. Got It. Uh, he stated his concerns, uh, which had to do with driving with a being inebriated with cannabis driving with a young person in the car and whether the penalties were stiffened up for that. They already exist and are stiff, but if he wants to stiffen them up, go right ahead. He wanted more of his administration on the commission looking at what the tax and regulate law would look like as drafted coming out of the summer fall study committee again, had he brought that to us any time during the last four months, we would have put it in the bill to have the, the secretary of transportation or the secretary of human services in there or the secretary of a public service, the commercial public service, you know, he just kept saying, I have a couple of concerns.

Speaker 2: Uh, and he said they're about driving and there about this, but I never said I want these things in a bill. He'll claim because the bill ultimately got through in the last couple of days with some changes. That's when it all happened. And so he was caught off guard. Uh, but he didn't really. He didn't council with me on any of that and he certainly didn't really insert himself in the process with many senators that he served with. So he's friends with them. He knows them well and could have said if something's going to move, can you make sure that these things are a part of it? None of that really happened. And so it wasn't until after we passed the law and we were out of session that he then said, I want these people on the commission and that these things should have been changed. And so ultimately he vetoed the bill.

Speaker 2: Now we're trying to figure out how to make that work. So how do we. So now let's get into governance. We purposely didn't get into governance until now. Uh, so you guys are January, may is your session, but when the governor vetoes something, what happened? Well, the governor has vetoed this bill, but also more importantly is vetoed the budget and one other bill that are critical to the functioning of state government. She, it was just this bill. We would come back for a day if we did it all, we wouldn't be able to override and it would be over. We will be coming back to, uh, discuss those other bills, figure out the budget and the school funding challenge that he's brought up at the last minute as well, uh, and vote those through at the same time. We will take up action on the cannabis reform bill and hopefully over these next couple of weeks work out what those differences are and move it through the process.

Speaker 2: The big hiccup on this is that there are enough house republicans who are steadfastly opposed along with the handful of Democrats that we can't suspend the rules to move the bill more quickly through the process. The way that would be necessary if this is only a one or a two day process. If it's six or seven days, then the process can go through its channels, but normally a bill gets voted on two times and gets held for a day before going to the other body and you have to suspend the rules to make that compressed over two days. And that's where our difficulty is going to be. Why was there a veto of the budget? Not to get too far into it, but just maybe to further understand this governor's thinking, well, the the budget was actually the most widely supported budget in the last 10, 20 years that I've been serving.

Speaker 2: Okay. But there was a separate bill that had to do with funding of education actually how we tax for education because we have a statewide education tax with a local education rate as well. And the governor in the last week of the main session introduced the concept to change how we would be on negotiating teacher contracts from the local level to the state level for healthcare. And that created a big kerfluffle on the, on the tax bill for education. And he said I'm going to veto the budget if I don't get what I want on the tax bill. Aha. So the budget is actually widely supported and we will come back and probably just past that again. But the other bill is the one that is really where the hangup is and that may yet take some time to figure out. So that sounds like. So you've got education, taxation, and healthcare all mixed in there, which is complicated stuff.

Speaker 2: So there's a very likely chance that the veto session will go longer than two days, which will actually give cannabis reform a greater chance of passage, which is kind of ironic because it was the initial kerfluffle about healthcare and those bills that ran the session two weeks long that allowed us to get a cannabis bill through in the first place because of all the hangups in the house earlier in the session. So, uh, once again, cannabis, the only thing that works and, and, uh, uh, very seriously, no matter if you're a Democrat and he's a Republican, cannabis gets more votes than both of you. Well probably true. And, uh, and I would say to people listening anywhere in the country, if you actually think you would, I don't want you to call if you don't think this is true, calls from sits. Some citizens need integrity just like politicians do.

Speaker 2: Sure. But if, if people out there from southern New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or other parts of the country, if you'd actually fly over, if you think you would be more likely to visit Vermont. Yes. Come here skiing. Come here to visit the Green Mountains and see our beautiful lakes and rivers and so forth. Yeah, if you are more likely to come here, if we had a tax and regulate system, then you could call the governor or you could call the Republican Party and say this is an economic development bill right now. We're flying to Colorado, but from New York I could drive up for different weekends for skiing in the winter if you had legal cannabis, I'd come there, but right now I might not know he got. That would help a main. I'll go to Massachusetts. Yeah, you could or you know you could get it in Massachusetts then go to New York or go to New Hampshire and Vermont lose out.

Speaker 2: So I've spoken with Ido two, eight, two, eight, three, three, three. Three is the governor's phone number, by the way. I love it. Not Personal Office office. Of course, we're in Vermont, we all know each other's personal numbers too, but I'm not going to give you that story exactly where reasonable people here. I've spoken with many legislators who have told me, make sure that if you're going to support something, if you do support something that you call the person of whom you are a constituent in other apps do not call outside of it, is far more influential to call your own legislative deed. But what you're saying, this kind of specific issue of one, we're talking about bringing a economy from outside. You want your money, spend it, and then feel free to go home and we will happily take your money. I mean, that's, that's tourism economies for you.

Speaker 2: Sound like a Republican by the way. Well, you know, it's still business. I run a business. It's a farm. I grow stuff. I pay employees. I know how to be a businessperson. Um, but, uh, but no calls from other people indicating a, you could call bed and breakfasts in Vermont and say, Hey, you know, it's more likely that I'd come stay in Vermont and use your business. If you had this, you could call the governor, you could call the chambers of commerce of Vermont. You can say, just so you know, this is something that would be positive for your economy. That's the way that, that would help us. It's how we move the needle, so to speak. That's right. All right, so we've got this. So people don't use needles with cannabis. We'll just use that as a separate matter of the tile. Move the dial.

Speaker 2: Sure. It's better move the dial. That's right. Um, so you know, here we are, we've got this, what do you call it, a, a special session of veto session. Veto session. Directly call it a veto session, which might go on forever. We, who knows, who knows where. Now there's, there's no set timeline. We need a budget. We've told what, of course we need a budget. We've told folks what to do if they support what we're talking about. Let's just for one quick minute. Sure. All of these issues that you've been paying attention to over your kind of lifetime are now issues that are, you know, on the public, on the public's mind, all over the country, all over the world. I just told you I got back from being in Europe where they have a socialized medicine, right? And no one seems to be complaining.

Speaker 2: Um, what would you say to just where we are politically, where we are with these issues, where we are with dialogue. You're a lieutenant governor that's a Democrat with a progressive Democrat. Excuse me. Progressive Democrat. Excuse me. With a Republican governor. You seem to be at least having conversations. Where are we with these issues? Where are we with political discourse? How far are we off from where we should be? Well, we are very fortunate in Vermont. It's a human scale. You know, you walk down the street in Burlington, you might see Bernie, uh, you know, it's just a different scenario than it is, I think in a lot of other states and uh, or at least a lot of the larger states. And so our political figures are very accessible, our representatives and senators typically have other jobs or maybe they're retired, but they're members of the community, you see them at the coffee shop.

Speaker 2: And so our level of discourse in Vermont is typically a still pretty reasonable. Uh, the parties sometimes get a little over the top and they do the aggressive attack dog stuff. Um, I've seen that from, from both of the bigger major parties in some from the Progressive Party as well because they're trying to stake out territory. But I'm all three are a. But generally we have reasonable conversations and some of the negativity and certainly infiltrates the campaign season. Some of the. Ah, I gotcha kind of statements do work their way in during the session. I'm more now than they did when I was in it starting 20 years ago. The governor has a couple of points that are really about getting political points, not getting policy through, but unfortunately, and they're starting to take things a little bit with this last minute introduction of these ideas as opposed to we have an idea, let's sit down and actually talk and figure it out in Vermont.

Speaker 2: We often work it out and find a way to accomplish the goals that were set forth by one side with some protections or reason from another side. And hopefully we continue to do that. You said you might see burning on the street. How much interaction have you had personally with, with the man, with Bernie? Um, I tend to meet with him two to four times a year talking about issues now that I'm lieutenant governor is a little more frequent to discuss areas we can work together and things that I might be able to do as lieutenant governor to, um, push some of the issues. I mean, we're in Vermont where the state that supported them with 86 percent in the primary, uh, even in the general election, a ton of people wrote them in. And, uh, you know, his values and beliefs are widely held and again, that's very much across partisan lines.

Speaker 2: There's a lot of conservative folks at vote for him as well. And if I can help execute some of his policy ideas on the Vermont scale or help bring those up for discussion so that they get executed by our legislature, then um, then we can really be a model for the country. And, and he and I talk about that, uh, we're, we do have this roadblock and the governor's office on some of these issues, but hopefully, uh, you know, the people of Vermont will continue to engage more than they even have in the past. Although vermonters engage in politics way more on average than a lot of other states. And we can move a progressive agenda here just to stay on him for one more second. Were you surprised at how his message and he resonated with so many folks or not in some regards?

Speaker 2: Not A. I was actually discussing with, with a Republican colleague of mine in the Senate at three years ago when this was all nascent and just starting to happen. And he was scared a sleepless night that Bernie would run because he understood how Bernie could connect with working class, rural Republican shokes yeah. And not all rural, but working class folks, some of whom vote more conservatively, um, because he really focuses on those economic injustices and how well Bernie does in rural parts of Vermont. And uh, and he showed, you know, I, I think hands down Bernie would have won the presidency over Donald Trump because they both would have been anti instead of one being an establishment candidate and one not, and Bernie would have received 10 or 20,000 more votes in Pennsylvania in 20 or 30 in, in, um, in Michigan and Wisconsin, no doubt.

Speaker 2: And I think he would have one which is really unfortunate that it went the way it did. But you're, you're coming from the left. That's fair to say. Um, how important is it for not only Vermont, you know, uh, folks and legislators, but across the country, folks from the left to, to really have truly an economic message. Everything that you've said has been teenaged with economic kind of a viewpoints. And I mean, how much we got gotTa, you know, I mean, economic injustice is the root of social injustice, environmental injustice, uh, you know, it just, it's the foundation of it all. And we are at one of the most economically unjust times in US history. The only other one that was similar was in the late twenties and, you know, we know what happened then, uh, you know, Bernie's comments of an oligarchic society or not way off base of people who have so much money they don't even know what to do with while other people in this country don't have clean running water in some parts of this country.

Speaker 2: And you just have to wonder, at what point is it more patriotic to think about our fellow countrymen and country women than it is to think about our own selfish greed. And uh, you know, it's not about taking more money from folks who are making 150 or 200,000 to make society be just. But you know, these folks that are millions upon millions. And I asked regularly, you know, if you had a million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it? Well, you'd pay off your debt, you'd make sure your kids had a college education. You might put in a pool in the backyard and you might buy a new car. Well, the next year you had another new million dollars. Okay, well you've paid off your debt. Okay, now you buy a vacation. All right, well the third year you get another million dollars. What do you do the fourth year? Another million. And we're just talking 1 million.

Speaker 2: Yeah. These folks that are making five and 10 and $30,000,000 a year, at what point do they really need that much money relative to what our everyday society needs in terms of clean water, a good public education, safe housing. You know, I just, it boggles my mind with the word patriotism, you know, what we think of as far as patriotism versus nationalism. And I think we've really lost sight of that patriotism versus nationalism. I love that. And I love the fact that you're taking, you know, hey, 100,000, a couple hundred thousand dollars. We're not talking about that. You're actually speaking of the millionaires and billionaires, Sarah Enough and I can't do it. So I'm not even sure I was a little bit of a live from New York. You can probably do it better than I. He's from Brooklyn Effects. Right. Alright. So I have three final questions. I'll tell you what they are asking them in order and if you don't mind, I would love to come back as we go here.

Speaker 2: You know, because if you got to make news, we'd love to, you know, kind of get your point of view. The three final questions are, what has most surprised you in cannabis? What has most surprised you in life and on the soundtrack of your life? One track, one song that's got to be on there, but first things first talked about cannabis. Talked about how you see it and you know, you've been kind of on the issue for quite some time, more than many of us, right? What's most surprised? Yeah. What's most surprised you in cannabis? Um, I guess overall I would think at this point political figures would understand where the people are at better than they do. And so it's surprised you about cannabis and it is on the political side of it is just that a political folks are apparently so disconnected from their constituents and from reality.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Uh, with respect to alcohol versus cannabis versus what people do in their daily lives. And isn't that interesting? It connects directly to your point on economic messaging and economic kind of know and I just think so many politicians and, and it's not so true in Vermont. Money doesn't drive it in Fremont the way it does in some bigger states or nationally, but how disconnected a political figures are from reality. Yeah. Well, uh, I don't feel disconnected from you. I will say that LGC, right? If you don't mind. Sure. What's most surprised you in life? Um, what has most surprised me in life? Uh, I think unfortunately how negative some people have gotten, you know, the people I know and people I think in their initial core when they're born are not. I'm so full of discord and it saddens me how much discord we have and I won't say that it's hate.

Speaker 2: I think a lot of people are angry. Uh, and that's come from again, economic injustice and struggle to get by and, you know, I think a lot of the, the, the population which is this working class population where it used to be that one male could go into a factory and make a middle class wage and their family could afford a small, you know, power boat for fishing or you know, whatever their, their, their interest was and they've been struggling for 30, 40 years. So, so to me it's, um, it's the level of discord and, and the inability of us as political leaders to um, resolve that problem. Yeah, I think that, you know, I, uh, what I say is I come from left, I tried to be in the middle. And the reason is because I see that I look on a, you know, like a social stream and I've got a few friends on every side and this, you know, anger and that anger.

Speaker 2: And it's like, well, wait, can we, let's dispense of the anger and actually just talk issue. Yeah. You know, let's talk some policy as opposed to politics. Yeah, no, it's true. And, and, um, and to me that the financial interests and you look at some of the research that's now all funded by the right wingers on environmental issues and climate change, uh, at social justice issues, uh, that, that, that money is driving everything. You know, one of the seven deadly sins is greed and it is probably causing us the biggest trouble. It's in the Bible. I think it's in the Bible. And there you go. Either. Hey, listen, either the prequel or the, uh, that's right, the new testament. Exactly. So music you to the most important question I'll ask you all day on the soundtrack of your life. One track, one song that's got to be on there too, that, that, that resonate at the moment are both Bob Marley tunes.

Speaker 2: Okay? Um, one is a course than belly full, but they're hungry because that's related to this economic justice and injustice message I've been talking about. And you've got to have Chi now, ours related to this topic. So in this world, uh, those would be some songs high on my list. Um, and, uh, you know, I, I, I do like a lot of Bob Marley, although I, I mostly listen to news these days because it's my one source on the radio. I don't have TV. So as a politician not having a TV, I'm listening to talk radio more than music and news. I'm guessing NPR, NPR, I try to listen to other talk radio station so I can understand what other people are hearing. Spectrum of news. That's what I try. I mean the other side is typically so, um, so slanted and so full of vitriol. It's hard to, uh, you know, and I'm sure they have a hard time listening to public radio, although public radio tends to present facts and facts matter.

Speaker 2: Um, so if there's a song out there about facts that would be high on my. Sure, sure. We can look that up. So I, yeah, contemporary music. I'm not as up on contemporary music as one would think I should be or could be. But I listened to a lot of country dance music, which is fiddles and oh wow. And so forth. My wife was a contra dance color and that's a great community event. Again, people from different walks of life coming together in a non inebriated setting in the evening and just dancing and touching and looking each other in the eye, which, uh, you know, we've lost in our society, unlike some other cultures around the world where dance is such a spiritual part. This is part of that spirituality. Get down to the dance hall, solve everything there. Yup. LGC My friend. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Thank you. And there you have lieutenant governor.

Speaker 1: I hope that the description kind of spoke to you of his farm because I was looking at what he was describing and it was quite something really good guy. Very much appreciated talking to him. Very much appreciate his time and can't wait to check back in with him. In the meantime, thank you for listening. Stay tuned.

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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.