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Ep.288: Diane Russell

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.288: Diane Russell

Ep.288: Diane Russell

Diane Russell joins us via FaceTime and takes us through why she’s running for Governor in the great state of Maine. Last summer she led the fight to take on the super delegate system in the democratic party to which Bernie Sanders took notice and asked Diane to speak on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Diane’s political journey began during a ME energy crisis when she was able to affect change through cap and trade legislation. Diane also brought change through rank choice or run off. As she runs for Governor, she’s focused on Medicaid for all Mainers which is necessary due to neighboring Canadian universal healthcare competition. Oh yeah, and she introduced an early bill to legalize adult-use cannabis and helped get it on the 2016 ballot.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Diane Russell joins US via face time. It takes us through why she's running for governor in the great state of Maine. Last summer, she led the fight to take on the super delegate system in the Democratic Party to which Bernie Sanders took notice and asked Diane to speak on the main stage at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia. Diane's political journey began during a main energy crisis. One, she was able to effect change through Kappa trade legislation. Diane also brought change through rank choice or runoff voting as she runs for governor. She's focused on Medicaid for all mainers, which is necessary due to neighboring Canadian universal healthcare competition. Oh yeah. She introduced an early bill to legalize adult use cannabis and help get it on the 2016 ballot. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social media handle can economy. That's two ends of the word economy. Diane. Ross, then what are you aiming for? Do you think?

Speaker 2: At some point I'd like to have coffee and I'd like to have maybe an English muffin.

Speaker 3: Okay, that's fair.

Speaker 1: I also feel like at some point you'd like to be the governor of the great state of Maine

Speaker 2: at some point. That would be nice.

Speaker 3: Is that what's happening? What's happening? Diane Russell, who I met at cannabis economy when we used to do executive forums, which was now a long time ago now, a long time ago. Right. Can you see the gray? Oh yeah, I can. We're on facetime, so that's fantastic. What have you been doing? I think I feel like you had an eventful summer last summer.

Speaker 2: Oh right. So last year I led the fight to take on the superdelegate system and while we end it, we did significantly riff reform it and we got the Democratic Party to change how it allocates its delegate count and particularly how it elects the presidential candidate a each year. So we made a pretty significant change there, lead a national coalition for that, and then Bernie Sanders asked me to speak at the Democratic convention to explain to everybody what we had done and why it was a huge victory and why it was important that we come together.

Speaker 3: So take us, I guess, to Philadelphia that, you know, after all that work, uh, Bernie turned to you and said, hey, there's this big stage out there, why don't you hit it?

Speaker 2: Well, so what's funny is when we had the convention in the states, it started with, I put in an amendment to the rules here in Maine and the whole debate happened with me standing on the floor and the chair of the convention up on the desk. So I'd never been to a convention before. Um, so when they asked me to speak, um, and it was supposed to be five minutes but ended, it ended up being 13 because the audience response was so amazing that I couldn't talk over everybody. Um, I was picturing being on the floor of the convention, like no big deal. So my friend who was with me looked at me at one point, he's like, how are you not absolutely terrified about we're about to do. I was like, what do you mean? He's like, you're about to stand before convention with a massive number of people and you're not even like, you know, there's just not even any crease on your brow.

Speaker 2: Like, I don't get it. And I was like, oh no, no, no, I'm just going to be on the floor of the convention. He goes, no, I don't think you are. I think you're going to be up on the day. And it's just me. It's just the rules committee thing. And then I was like, oh, wait a minute. He's like, yeah, I think I was like, no. So, um, I found out the night before that I was going to be speaking, most people get scheduled well in advance. Uh, I did that. Um, so that was fascinating trying to figure that out and nobody knew that I was going to speak. So I had rather dramatically lost a, a Senate race about two months prior. Um, and so everybody was shocked when I walked out on stage and deliver a speech. They're really engaged people and got folks go and, um, for the convention. And here's the thing, when I was out back, everybody was getting booed off the floor. I'm off the stage. It was incredible. So, uh, I didn't even, I was terrified to go out there because I was expecting to get booed off and well I didn't.

Speaker 3: And we're gonna include the link of that speech in the episode description so folks can see what we're talking about, but let's kind of make sure that we understand what your political bone a few days are you wrecked, you know, didn't just show up. Right? So when did this whole thing start where Diane said to herself, you know what, I think I should try my hand politics.

Speaker 2: So eight years ago, or no, actually it was, I act as though I was in. I'm still in the legislature. I'm not, it was like 10 years ago or close to it. We had a, uh, in 2008 we had a crisis of a and an energy crisis. We it all across the country, but it, but particularly hit main hard because 80 percent of our rooms were fueled with oil and we had the oldest housing stock in the country. So even what you were paying for wasn't really heating your home. It was going up the windows and the doors. So, uh, I wanted to make sure that I had a chance to fix that. I came back home, um, I couldn't find a quote that I like a job with my college degree, so I took a job at the convenience store in my neighborhood and became the friendly neighborhood cashier and the opportunity presented itself to run for office.

Speaker 1: Diane Russell joins US via face time. It takes us through why she's running for governor in the great state of Maine. Last summer, she led the fight to take on the super delegate system in the Democratic Party to which Bernie Sanders took notice and asked Diane to speak on the main stage at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia. Diane's political journey began during a main energy crisis. One, she was able to effect change through Kappa trade legislation. Diane also brought change through rank choice or runoff voting as she runs for governor. She's focused on Medicaid for all mainers, which is necessary due to neighboring Canadian universal healthcare competition. Oh yeah. She introduced an early bill to legalize adult use cannabis and help get it on the 2016 ballot. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social media handle can economy. That's two ends of the word economy. Diane. Ross, then what are you aiming for? Do you think?

Speaker 2: At some point I'd like to have coffee and I'd like to have maybe an English muffin.

Speaker 3: Okay, that's fair.

Speaker 1: I also feel like at some point you'd like to be the governor of the great state of Maine

Speaker 2: at some point. That would be nice.

Speaker 3: Is that what's happening? What's happening? Diane Russell, who I met at cannabis economy when we used to do executive forums, which was now a long time ago now, a long time ago. Right. Can you see the gray? Oh yeah, I can. We're on facetime, so that's fantastic. What have you been doing? I think I feel like you had an eventful summer last summer.

Speaker 2: Oh right. So last year I led the fight to take on the superdelegate system and while we end it, we did significantly riff reform it and we got the Democratic Party to change how it allocates its delegate count and particularly how it elects the presidential candidate a each year. So we made a pretty significant change there, lead a national coalition for that, and then Bernie Sanders asked me to speak at the Democratic convention to explain to everybody what we had done and why it was a huge victory and why it was important that we come together.

Speaker 3: So take us, I guess, to Philadelphia that, you know, after all that work, uh, Bernie turned to you and said, hey, there's this big stage out there, why don't you hit it?

Speaker 2: Well, so what's funny is when we had the convention in the states, it started with, I put in an amendment to the rules here in Maine and the whole debate happened with me standing on the floor and the chair of the convention up on the desk. So I'd never been to a convention before. Um, so when they asked me to speak, um, and it was supposed to be five minutes but ended, it ended up being 13 because the audience response was so amazing that I couldn't talk over everybody. Um, I was picturing being on the floor of the convention, like no big deal. So my friend who was with me looked at me at one point, he's like, how are you not absolutely terrified about we're about to do. I was like, what do you mean? He's like, you're about to stand before convention with a massive number of people and you're not even like, you know, there's just not even any crease on your brow.

Speaker 2: Like, I don't get it. And I was like, oh no, no, no, I'm just going to be on the floor of the convention. He goes, no, I don't think you are. I think you're going to be up on the day. And it's just me. It's just the rules committee thing. And then I was like, oh, wait a minute. He's like, yeah, I think I was like, no. So, um, I found out the night before that I was going to be speaking, most people get scheduled well in advance. Uh, I did that. Um, so that was fascinating trying to figure that out and nobody knew that I was going to speak. So I had rather dramatically lost a, a Senate race about two months prior. Um, and so everybody was shocked when I walked out on stage and deliver a speech. They're really engaged people and got folks go and, um, for the convention. And here's the thing, when I was out back, everybody was getting booed off the floor. I'm off the stage. It was incredible. So, uh, I didn't even, I was terrified to go out there because I was expecting to get booed off and well I didn't.

Speaker 3: And we're gonna include the link of that speech in the episode description so folks can see what we're talking about, but let's kind of make sure that we understand what your political bone a few days are you wrecked, you know, didn't just show up. Right? So when did this whole thing start where Diane said to herself, you know what, I think I should try my hand politics.

Speaker 2: So eight years ago, or no, actually it was, I act as though I was in. I'm still in the legislature. I'm not, it was like 10 years ago or close to it. We had a, uh, in 2008 we had a crisis of a and an energy crisis. We it all across the country, but it, but particularly hit main hard because 80 percent of our rooms were fueled with oil and we had the oldest housing stock in the country. So even what you were paying for wasn't really heating your home. It was going up the windows and the doors. So, uh, I wanted to make sure that I had a chance to fix that. I came back home, um, I couldn't find a quote that I like a job with my college degree, so I took a job at the convenience store in my neighborhood and became the friendly neighborhood cashier and the opportunity presented itself to run for office.

Speaker 2: So I did. And so I ran for office behind the counter at Coluccio, which I'm still very proud of. It's right down the street from where I live now. And uh, got to know everybody. And then, uh, you know, when I first got elected, this little lady who I love dearly, she comes up to me and she starts pointing their finger in the air and she's like, you give them hell up there. You don't forget where you came from. You give them out, don't take no crap from them. Um, so I always keep that in the back of my mind. And years later she was like, you did exactly what I told you. You don't take any crap. I love it. So, you know, I didn't have anything to lose. So. And I didn't understand social norms. I mean, I grew up in a mobile home, so I didn't understand there were social graces of how you were supposed to do things.

Speaker 2: So I was always the one that was like, well, why can't we just fix it? Be like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, you can't do that. Well, what do you mean you can't do that? So I never really never really understand the concept of you can't do that. It was like from where I sit, like I drive a $1,500 in 1986 Mustang, right? I grew up in a trailer. And where I say getting into office was a big enough deal that, uh, the idea that I couldn't do something seemed, uh, you know, I'd already gone well beyond what I ever should have. So, you know, so then, um,

Speaker 3: if you think this is hard, imagine what I just did, so, you know, this is sleazy if we want to do.

Speaker 4: I was like, I know you've had a silver spoon that's finite, no disrespect, but like some of us have to earn our place in life.

Speaker 3: So what happened with the energy crisis then? Well, you know, as far as your in they are

Speaker 4: to build a to, it wasn't my bill, but I shepherded it through and I created a Nexgen caucus to focus on building the efficiency, main trust to make sure that we could weatherize their homes. Um, and so we got that instituted the first year. It was a lot of work and it was a lot of, um, I mean I push people really hard that year. My freshman year we also passed gay marriage that year we lost at the ballot box, but we were able to vote for it, which was really good. Um, as a side note. But then, um, it took about six years to get it fully funded. Um, and I still think the funding mechanism isn't quite right, but we actually got to fully fund the efficiency main program and now people have rebates and a can afford better for, to, to weatherize their homes, uh, so that we can make sure that the heat isn't going out. So that was a huge thing.

Speaker 3: So you speak of funding, I wonder if you could at least just take us through that because that's the whole thing. This government thing does need to be funded and that's what people don't like because then it sounds like you're talking about taxes to me, but you are talking about energy. So how did we get this thing funded?

Speaker 4: Well, let's just be clear, you know, there's been a whole rhetoric that taxes are a terrible thing, right? Tax, they're part of citizenship, you know, and frankly the top one, 10th of one percent should be paying significantly more in taxes. And if they were, we would be paying, the rest of us would be paying significantly less and we'd have the investments we need. Let's also talk about for a second, the fact that 55 to 56 percent of your taxes go to fund the military industrial complex and two failed wars. So let's also remember that how we spend that money at the federal level and how, who we tax and how we tax them has a lot more to do with your tax base than people realize that it's a lot easier to say lower taxes. Well, they, the Republicans do that a lot. I'd love them.

Speaker 4: They lower taxes a lot, but they lowered it from the top, the top echelon. And the rest of us ended up paying for that. So, but in this instance, so Maine is part of the regional greenhouse gas initiative, which is a cap and trade program. There are about 13, um, uh, states that are part of that. So when you hear about cap and trade and the Republicans really didn't like it, the fact of the matter is it's already in place, it's already working and it's already regionalized. So we have significant revenue that comes in from that cap and trade program and we earmarked a good portion of it, uh, to go to the efficiency main program.

Speaker 3: Perfect. And not to get too far into the weeds, but if you could just take us through cap and trade just in case folks have only heard about it but don't actually know what it is.

Speaker 4: Yeah. So essentially it caps the amount of emissions that a company can put out and so some people will embed, some companies will invest in energy efficiency, uh, and then they'll have an excess of a credits essentially because there'll be a gap between how many, um, how much, uh, pollution they put in the air versus how much they're allowed to. So that gap they can sell on the open market and an auction, um, and someone that actually needs to be able to emit more into the atmosphere will buy those credits on the, on the auction and the, and the revenue. Um, the excess revenue from that goes to the regional greenhouse gas program. Um, and that gets divvied up the states.

Speaker 3: Okay. Fantastic. So what we're doing is creating a marketplace which I love and it's to benefit society, which is even better. Right? So there you go. Capitalism, pat yourself on the back. Okay, fantastic. So that's how we got the money for the energy. And then what other kind of issues cropped up for you on your way into 2016 here. And I did mention we're on facetime. I, uh, you can hear. I'm proving the fact that I'm in New York City with the car horns behind me. That's not quite the same background noise with a, with you in Portland, Maine, right?

Speaker 4: Well, we do have them, but my house is secluded so I'm pretty insulated from that. Fair enough, about a little bit of a recluse. People don't realize

Speaker 3: might have to change that by the way.

Speaker 4: I know someone who's naturally shy about going up and talking to folks. I picked one hell of a profession and one hell of a race to run. So two things. One, since 2007, I had been working to bring rank choice voting to Maine, which essentially it some have noted over the years as instant runoff voting. It allows you to rank your candidates in order of preference and a, you actually have an instant run off at the ballot box. So instead of having to worry about spoilers, uh, and, and being, and having to vote for people you aren't excited about in order to stop someone you really don't like to get into office. That sounds familiar. Yeah. Now, yeah, exactly. Especially in my state now. And maybe you'll be able to vote your hopes and your fears. And so he, you know, the person you really want to, when you put first choice, the person that you can live with, you put second choice, uh, et cetera and so on.

Speaker 4: Um, and then the goal is to get a majority, a candidate to win the election so that the majority said that candidate actually represents truly the majority interests. The other piece is in, on April 20th of 2011. And yes, it was April 20th. I introduced a bill to legalize a tax and regulate marijuana, uh, you know, it was an early bill and it certainly had its faults, but it was the only one in the country at the time and I think it was the first modern, um, there had been a moves to do that and like the seventies, but I think it was the first modern, uh, legalization bill in the country,

Speaker 3: full legalization, adult use, etc.

Speaker 4: Right. We have the medical pRogram, uh, already. I just never thought. I just never understood Why we were spending so much time going after people smoking a plant. Like it wasn't my, it's not my thing to consume. I'm a bourbon girl, but I just, I thought it was such a huge waste of money. That's probably the libertarian side of me coming out. I just was like, why are we wasting all that money and the drug more clearly wasn't working. And, and the thing, the thing that really got me on this, I first introduced it because it just. Prohibition just seemed like a stupid set of laws to me. Um, as I dug into it, I started to realize just the racial disparity and the arrest rates, so that really as a social justice issue caused me great concern and really kept me going because a lot of folks kept saying, well, why are you doing this? This is a loon project, you know, it's a donkey odie of thing. This was 2011. this was April, 2011 different times. Well, yeah, I mean Washington state and Colorado didn't come pass it at the ballot box until november of 2012 the next year. So I was in, I was out on my own. They were polar bear swimming around me and that was,

Speaker 3: it was cold and that's, those are figurative polar bears. Just marriage because you are from Maine and it is cold up there. So we need to clarify.

Speaker 4: Yeah, we don't have real polar bears. um, so that in fact what I entered, what I, at my press conference, someone showed up with a shirt that said jail. Diane russell, I've never found that shirt again. I really want it. I want to frame it. So six years later it's legal in Maine. Um, so last year I, I led the fight to end the superdelegate system rank choice voting. We had got, we got on the ballot the year before, but It was a for that fall we got legalization on the ballot and we have to go through a court case like we, they took us to court to try. They threw it off the ballot. We had to sue the state secretary of state and the attorney general to get it back on the ballot. Um, and you know, we, I was the one part, you know, the systems management for making sure that all the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed for that, a citizens' initiative.

Speaker 4: It was a whole team effort, but I'm the one that mapped that out and that was very, very disciplined about making sure all those i's were dotted and t's were crossed. And David Boyer, thank god for David Boyer mesh wake, because they could have at any step of the way, said, no, you're being too ridiculous. This is too over the top. We don't need to. And they were like, nope, we support it, we agree with you, we want to make sure it's done right. And that the reason that we got through that court cases because we made sure every I was dotted and every t was crossed and they tried to throw it off the ballot and they couldn't do it. Um, so we got it on the ballot

Speaker 3: just for. And I'm so sorry for interrupting, but what was the key there as far as, you know, making sure that it did not get thrown off for other folks that are working in other states to make the medical or adult use happen. Uh, what is the key there?

Speaker 4: So each state does their citizens' initiatives a little differently. Maine is very complicated. You have to send every single petition to the town clerk to get it, uh, uh, analyzed for the, compared against the voter file. Then you have to make sure It's properly notarized and each notarization requires a signature, a printed name, and the date that it was notarized needs to make sure that the circulator is signed it and dated it properly. Um, and then you have to make sure that someone didn't try to submit signatures to you, fraudulent lee, um, to, you know, just to try to earn a dollar a signature so you have to like compare and make sure that everything was done right. Um,

Speaker 3: so what was their point of view? What were they saying you did wrong?

Speaker 4: They told us that the note or the one of the primary notaries had not signed everything that someone else had signed for him. Of all the things that we could have gotten wrong. I, you know, that was, that was not, it. Guess he has really messy signature. Um, and no, I don't think he's the best guy in the world, but he signed the document and ended up being all over the media as the laughing stock case because, you know, everybody was laughing like, oh, the stoners got thrown off the ballot. They had 100,000 signatures and couldn't get on the lazy stoners. Well, it turned out the stoner team got their crap together and organized and disciplined. Well, we got everything done right. I mean, I'm not as donor, but my team was,

Speaker 3: I got you. You're a bourbon girl as you've

Speaker 4: perfect girl. They were just, they were in it for the love, righty. Um, and I respect that. So, uh, we got all of our i's dotted and t's crossed and, and understand that when we'd send something, we have over 400 towns in Maine and each town we needed to send multiple, multiple petitions to at multiple times. Sometimes the town clerks would make mistakes and they'd mail it back and then we'd have to mail it back to them to make sure that the town clerk process was done right. And if, god forbid, a circulator collected signatures on a petition with multiple towns, that petition had to go to multiple towns and go through the process all over again.

Speaker 3: So you are, it sounds like detail oriented and also interested in changing big things.

Speaker 4: So you cannot put out a bold policy and then just leave it there to sit. You have to do the work. So a Lot of folks are like, oh, the citizens' initiative processes too easy. No, it's not. I just make it look easy because they know what I'm doing and I'm willing to do the work. Right. And it's a lot of work. I don't actually like doing citizens' initiative processes because I lose a significant portion of my life is a lot of gray hair that we're about to call her this afternoon.

Speaker 3: But uh, and, and for, uh, for, for those listening, uh, diane looks fantastic. Let's just be honest no matter what. Okay. So that's the mindset. When did you make this decision to say, all right, you know, what I'm going to do with this whole thing? I'm going to run for governor, why do it and why now?

Speaker 4: Well, so we won. I won three major victories last year. Each one of which in its own right would have been heralded as a remarkable feat. I just count them off again just to make sure we got them superdelegates legalization and don't forget, we also got through a recount on legalization, right? And two weeks prior to the election, the attorney general came out and said, oh, I was wrong. This actually legalizes it for people under 21. It didn't. but we were up against a lot and then rank choice voting that one as well. But then the election happened. Um, I mean the last thing on my mind was running for office in 2018. Uh, I was, uh, had been asked to be a build the political department for a women's national security group. Um, and that was amazing to work on national security issues. I've been working on like North Korea, north nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, you know, maybe we shouldn't go to war all the tIme within the state of Maine.

Speaker 4: No, nationally. Yeah. And I also, you know, worked on, uh, trying to stop the gorsuch nomination because of his position on women's rights and I still were, I'm still part of the team that is working on a, protecting the special investigation, the grassroots side of it. So I work on some other issues that people aren't familiar, aren't necessarily, don't necessarily associate with, with me and you know, to have a bold progressive be able to go toe to toe on North Korea, the threat of North Korea. It's not something that you really think about it as a norm. Right. So that's what I was working on. Trump got elected. I happened to be in dc the week of the women's march. So I stayed through. I'm so glad I did. I didn't really, I wasn't really paying attention. I was still focused on getting through the recount and getting my feet underneath me in terms of national security policy.

Speaker 4: So I went to the women's march, but I, I really didn't think he was going to be a big thing and it's only after like, it was amazing to be there and just, I was floored by the number of people that were there, but when I got back because there was no internet service or cell service at the march because there were too many people using the cell towers. um, when I got back and started seeing that they had done this in london and the numbers that were coming out of london, la, la, seattle, I found out that 10,000 people in my town back home had been out marching. What's back home just so, because I don't know where the name, because I was in dc at the time, I had been down there for a week, so back home in portland, Maine in augusta, Maine, our capital, we had another 10,000 and you should know if a thousand people show up to a rally in Maine.

Speaker 4: Like iT is a huge rally. So, um, to have 10,000 in both towns was amazing and then we have smaller rallies all across the state. Um, so that was phenomenal and I, we still didn't know quite what the raw response was going to be to the, to what was happening, the muslim ban rolled out and people and I was helping to organize to get people across the country to their airports, um, late at night. And then we work as I organized an airport protest the next day at noon thinking maybe 20 people would show up. I have built a sizable email list both in Maine and across the country. So I was using that to make sure that people were getting out to events and knew what was going on. So I also was, you know, because I spent so much time in dc when I was home, I was never actually home.

Speaker 4: I would go out to the far reaches of Maine to whatever resistance events were happening to be with people and see what was going on and really makes sure that we were standing up for what we believed in and I was so impressed with what I saw and so inspired. It just kept my spirits high. Like a lot of people are really dejected right now. They're really heartbroken, especially with what happened in charlottesville. And I was talking to someone last night, she's like, how can you be so uplifted? And it's like because I go spend time with the people that are fighting back and that inspires me. So everywhere I went people said, oh, diane, I get your emails. thank you. Thank you. And It was in the far reaches of Maine. Um, and I, I, I don't know quite what did it, but one more, one day I woke up in the middle of the night and I just had this epiphany and it was I want to turn over the tables of power and put it back in the hands of the people where it belongs.

Speaker 4: And as soon as I had that in my head, like I just would not go away. And I, um, and then a friend of mine started really pushing me to run for governor and then other people started pushing me to run for governor, not people from your traditional establishment roots because that's not where my, um, my base lies. And I was pretty skeptical about it to be honest because we'd had such a rough senate race. Um, but I started floating the idea quietly and people were actually like, wow, that's a really good idea. Um, so I started building a team and I, we spent months and months building a team and planning for an announcement. I, my team wanted me to announce much earlier, but I waited until all the major players were in, um, you know, you have all these gossip articles that keep getting written for six months or so, like who might get in, who might get it and they'll have all the photos and all the descriptions and all the gossip and I didn't want to be in there because I didn't want nothing to do with that because one, it's not my style and to, you know, if you're in those columns when you do announce it's a non announcement.

Speaker 4: Right? So everybody got a golf clap announcement because everybody knew they were going to get into the race. Anyway. Um, when I got in the race, uh, people, there was starting to be a buzz from the grassroots and even from people who were more establishment type, um, because they were, they were kind of not excited about what, who was running and the campaigns they were running. They were kind of bored and they in. We knew we needed someone who was dynamic and going to be able to rise to the moment that we're in because this is not a normal moment that we're in. Um, and we needed someone who could rise to the occasion and had the base of support to do it. Um, so the two weeks leading up to it, people were getting so starting to get really excited and um, the day before we're going back and forth on my logo and my logo, I thought it was like, it was a good logo, but it wasn't like, I don't know, it me, it didn't capture the fire and the energy.

Speaker 4: So I Asked my team, I was like, I need some social media graphics to float up to. Um, so folks can be like, hey, I'm with die. So all of a sudden my, my designer came back to me with a fist shaped logo in. It was shaped in the, a fist in the shape of the state of Maine. Um, and it had, it was a map of Maine. Uh, and so we had all these towns and some rivers in there. Uh, and it just spoke to me on such a profound level. Like I was like, boom, that is being, that is, that is what I want to be. that is that if someone said to me the other day, they're like, you know, there is nothing that logo says everything about who you are and what you're running on without ever saying a word.

Speaker 3: It's certainly a striking image. The rivers turned into the veins of the fist. It's fantastic. We need to know, yeah, we need to know what the platform is. So what are the most important things that you're trying to accomplish for mainers?

Speaker 4: Right? So first and foremost, I want to move us to a medicare for all healthcare system, a single pair system we have seen with this debate. And do you see if you can call it that? I'm serious. I mean that whole thing has created serious instability in the markets. It's created serious anxiety for people all across the country who don't know what their healthcare is going to look like. I'm in the next month, let alone sIx months. So. And we also proven that both parties have come to the table to try to fix the private healthcare system and both of resoundingly proven that they can't do it to the degree that it needs to be done. I support strongly the affordable care act, but there are serious flaws in it. Um, and those flaws exist largely because they're trying to put it was fit a square peg in a round hole and to do, they're trying to do in a private system what they want to do in a public system, but you can't necessarily do that in a private system. So my,

Speaker 3: because what, what, what turns out, what happens is you then have to give subsidies to fortune 50 companies in order for the thing to work. And I, again, just to go back to capitalism, I'm a big fan, but to give subsidies to a fortune 50 company doesn't make sense to me.

Speaker 4: Well, and also, you know, I live in Maine on the border of Canada. So a lot of folks in my state have access to single Payer healthcare because a lot of them are dual citizens or what have you, um, so they can go across the border.

Speaker 3: So how do we pay for it

Speaker 4: for one thing, you're already paying for it now, right? So we're already paying through it through increased costs because there's no transparency in your costs. You cannot go to a doctor and ask, you know what this surgery is going to cost versus this doctor. A lot of times your own doctor can't tell you what the surgery's going to cost. That if you walk into a car dealership, if they can't tell you what the car is going to cost, you know, months after you've driven it off the lot. It's just not, it doesn't make any sense. We need transparency in the cost system. We need to get rid of this middle person group, which is a medical coders and we need to make sure that, uh, so that's some of the costs. The other part of the cost is already an excessive premiums and excessive to deductibles. You know, if you're paying. I know the dangerous tax word, but if you're paying a thousand dollars in premiums and you've got a 10,000 or $15,000 deductible or you pay an extra, you know, 400 or $500 a month and taxes and all of a sudden you've got like a $2,000 deductible and you've got preventative care and you are prevented from getting stuck in a lifetime cap, which would, uh, devastate you if you have insurance, you know, all of a sudden the economics work significantly more in your favor. FUrthermore,

Speaker 3: just do the lifetime cap. I'm sorry for Interrupting, but that lifetime cap,

Speaker 4: if you repeal the affordable care act, but you lose a lot of protections, one of which is the lifetime of the ban on lifetime caps and the other is the ban on preexisting conditions. We would potentially go back to that system.

Speaker 3: That's if we lose the aca. Right? What are the improvements on the aca by doing medicare for all? Say it again. What are the improvements on the current reality? If we do medicare for all in Maine

Speaker 4: after a small company or nonprofit trying to find healthcare, It's still for your employees. It's still really expensive. Um, however, if you, you were prohibited from being able to give subsidies to your employees to be able to buy the healthcare on the market or you know, your employee can purchase it on the market and you could, you know, it'd be smart if your company could then just pay the bill right as directly, but you can't do that. You're inhibiting me from doing that. So there's some things. I also think when you get people on a consistent universal system, you're getting rid of the coding side of things because every little detail has to be coded. And so instead of focusing on what the process is, you're focusing on what the health outcome should be. There was a lot of really great benefits, but you know, and that's just remain.

Speaker 4: If you move it nationally, it really simplifies the system because, you know, I can, I have my insurance in Maine, but if I go to dc, I am not as well in short in dc, that's a real problem because you should be able to take where the United States of America, your health insurance should work across the country, but it doesn't, so you're, all of a sudden you're out of network. And then instead of having them pay it, you know, 80 percent, they're now paying 20 and 40 percent. And that's just what is usual and customary meaning that, that is what the standard of care is considered. Um, so moving to a medicare for all system across the board is really important. But there's another thing. So being on the border of Canada, we are businesses have a hard time competing with businesses on the other side of the border because we're competing for the same market.

Speaker 4: The difference is that the, the businesses on the other side of the mark of the, the, um, the border don't have to pay all these excessive insurance costs. The government takes care of it. Um, so it's making it very hard to compete as a country or as a state with foreign countries and we are a global marketplace and we remain the only industrialized a cyst, a country that does not provide universal healthcare. I do think, you know, if you want a more advanced, uh, you know, a better healthcare program, sure you should be allowed to buy that on the private market and have that as over and above. But everyone in the country and everyone in the state should have a basic level of quality healthcare. It should not be that you got cancer. And so sorry, you were a bad person. You're a bad andre because you got cancer, you know, because your genes are bad. Sorry, you just, we, we, we got nothing for you.

Speaker 3: So I'm understanding your. So I'm understanding your mindset of how to kind of improve the aca nationally. I understand that that's what you would prefer and that's fantastic. Getting down to what we're talking about, which is you running for governor of Maine, forgetting that for a moment. You are competing. Your healthcare market is competing with universal healthcare in Canada. And so that's why we have to do medicare for all in Maine, besides all the other reasons.

Speaker 4: Yeah. The, I mean, it's a competition issue for us for sure. But I don't want to also, I also don't want to lose sight. Healthcare is a human right and for no other reason, we should make sure that health care is the last thing that is based on profit. Uh, and I just think people should have access to healthcare. I'm healthy, but I know plenty of people who for through no fault of their own, I've gotten sick and I just don't think it's right that all of a sudden they go bankrupt.

Speaker 3: Yeah, of course. I also believe that it is a right. And that is when you get down to it, that is the key, a kind of difference in, in the debate. Is it a writer? Is it a privilege? Uh, you and I are coming from the camp that says it's a right, you know, because we're human beings. So like the whole point is to stay alive. But uh, w, what, what else might be on the platform? What would be one or two other kind of big issues for you?

Speaker 4: Right. So I also want to institute a state public bank, very similar to what North Dakota is doing and it looks like the New Jersey, a front runner candidate is also proposing a public bank as well. I haven't confirmed that, but it appears. So essentially, you know, most of your treasury is housed on wall street, um, through various, you know, short term back and forth, things designed to increase the dividends. The problem with that is that then your treasury investments are going to fund things that you don't even know it's funded funding. Meanwhile, uh, the amount of money that is being lent at those small business level over and over again is really a challenge, uh, because it's, it's sick, it's shrinking significantly. Most of the money because at the time it takes to issue a $5,000 loan versus a $500,000 loan versus a $5,000,000 loan is the same in terms of staff costs.

Speaker 4: The difference in what you get on a return on investment as a banker is huge. So, um, they're, they're moving and they're scaling toward those higher income, um, uh, investments and despite what they will tell you, all the data demonstrates this. So this would allow a, uh, the local or the public bank to partner with community banks just like they do in North Dakota to really be able to move money into, um, into main street where it belongs and to leverage the treasury and the assets of the estate to be able to better do that. Um, it provides a way for us to have a much more stable economy build a longterm, uh, proud of me that's supportive and ultimately the shareholders are asking for what is in the best interest of the public. Not so much what is in the best interest of a stock brokers.

Speaker 3: Um, why would someone be against this? This sounds like a brilliant idea.

Speaker 4: The banks are really nervous. Um, the local banks are the ones that carry the water. Unfortunately for the bigger banks, the bigger bags, you know, when, when you're too big to fail and you're so big that most of the states across the country are investing their money in your bank, don't you think that that would be terrifying if all of a sudden that states who have billions of dollars in assets start divesting themselves from your bag? Um, so when you're fearful, you start making up a whole bunch of reasons why someone might think this is a bad idea and usually those reasons are not necessarily the real reasons. So we're seeing a lot of small community banks a fearful about this because they'd been given a lot of reasons why they shouldn't support it when all evidence in North Dakota is to the contrary, the community banks love it. It's how I helped them to be able to flourish and it's really helped the state's economy. So, and this is, you know, North Dakota. Let's be clear. Yes, I am a progressive. North dakota is hardly the bastion of progressive strengths.

Speaker 3: Okay? Right. Sure.

Speaker 4: Very conservative state.

Speaker 3: Well libertarian though, right? I mean, you know, isn't it? I just, when I think of main politics, I do think of Glenn Peterson, right? Yes, of course. Everyone loves glenn. Uh, once you meet him and you know, he, he looks, he looks very, uh, uh, you know, dangerous. Yes. If you don't know him, but if you do know him, you know that this is a man who just get out of the whole way as far as I'm concerned, you know, let me live my life. He's very libertarian. It feels like that's the way Maine is, you know, it's like, let's let us just be main please.

Speaker 4: Well, that's true. And libertarians have serious concerns with the fed. Um, it's never been audited. It sets all of our interest rates and yet it is. Everybody thinks that this is the federal reserve bank is actually a federal bank. It's not, it's a private sector bank. Um, so it does not necessarily have the public interest at heart. It has the economic interests at heart, which is sometimes different. Sometimes they're aligned for sure. I'm a strong economy is good for the country, but it's not necessarily always aligned. And I think libertarians want to see an audit to make sure we know where that money's going. I also would like to see an audit of the pentagon too because it's never been audited, but,

Speaker 3: but that's a different story. A different story. What else is on the agenda here?

Speaker 4: So I'll be Talking about climate change and energy efficiency and clean energy economy because that's something I believe strongly in the opioid crisis is wreaking havoc in Maine. Um, and so we're going to be talking about that. That's another reason why a universal healthcare system would make sense because a lot of the folks that are struggling with addiction don't have health insurance right now. The governor has not expanded medicaid and so we can't get them health insurance, which would get them into treatment. That's really a huge problem and a real barrier to us being able to fix the crisis and for, you know, I know everybody's having this opioid crisis, but Maine is number two, um, in terms of its population versus overdose deaths, there's going to be a whole host of issues that we work on, um, you know, raising the wage. But also, you know, as one of the top people that led the fight to, uh, to legalized marijuana

Speaker 2: and understanding, know both the public security issue about protecting the communities, but also the very real concerns of the cannabis industry, you know, when it comes to banking, that's one thing that we might, you know, the state bank is not designed and were meant to be a public mean our depository bank, but it would, could under a cannabis economy prOvide a safe place for people to be able to just have deposit accounts. Um, you know, we want to make sure that we are building out of economy that favors small business over, you know, the quote unquote big marijuana that doesn't actually exist, but it probably will at some point. Um, I'm a big fan of The micro bud, you know, made is a big microbrews date. so I, I'm very clear like I think we need to brand micro, but because there's so many people that are growing their strains and uh, their version of their strains there. So I'm committed to it. Like, I mean, it's an obsession to get it right.

Speaker 3: I think when folks call that as craft cannabis,

Speaker 2: crabs, cannabis. Well we have my group, right? You get craft brew your craft cannabis. I also like The micro but because we got the microbrew

Speaker 3: alright, so we're getting A good. We're getting a good sense of uh, your, you know, a platform here. if I'm liking what you're saying, especially if I'm in Maine, what is the website that I go to to make sure that I, you know, spent some time doing what I can for you or maybe even donate a couple bucks.

Speaker 4: So we have a splash page up right now, which is basically just the one page a thing and you can donate from there and sign up. It's diane, 2018 dotcom. That's diane with one n, m and uh, yeah, contributions. Welcome. We are running our campaign on a small donor campaign. Uh, our hope is to avoid a pack checks and all of that. Um, so if you're a bernie sanders supporter, we welcome $27 monthly. Uh, we love it. I had someone the other day as what's the significance of $27? I was like, oh yeah,

Speaker 2: you are not a burden, or are you.

Speaker 4: I love hillary clinton too. I, I think the World of her, but I was burning, you know, one of the things that I think the cannabis community needs to really wrap their heads around is that, you know, you've got to invest in the new markets, um, and, and you do that through politics. Uh, and so I, the, the magic for me in the cannabis space is that We don't have an executive right now in the country who really understands cannabis policy and who can make a case for why it's not that scary. I mean, people go to their peers, they're not going to go to the, um, you know, governors and lawmakers are going to listen to the communities concerns, but they're not going to go and ask the dumb one on one questions that they're terrified to ask about because they don't want to look stupid, but they will go to their peers.

Speaker 4: Right? And so if we have an exeCutive who really understands cannabis policy, who's going to all the conferences, who's building all the relationships, they're going to come to that executive for advice. And as a state lawmaker, uh, I mean I had women, um, and lawmakers, men and women lawmakers, but a women lawmakers in particular. Every time we'd see each other at a conference, the whole gaggle of people would come up and be like, what's going on with the marijuana? Tell us about it, what's going on? They wanted to know they were curious, but they weren't going to ask their people because it makes them look stupid. But for me, I was, I am one of the senior experts in the legal, in the law maker community on that issue. Um, so imagine having that at the executive level.

Speaker 3: It's really important. We love it. Alright, so we got to go unfortunately. I'll give you three final questions. I'll tell you what they are. I'll ask you them in order. What has most surprised you in cannabis? What has most surprised you in life? And then on the soundtrack of your life, Diane Russell. one track, one song that's got to be on there. First things first though, what's most surprised you in cannabis?

Speaker 4: K cups. Okay. Cannabis had a really added the arcview and there was a sharp jagged thing and they were asked about k cups and they and the. What shocked me was when the judge said, well, this is a very competitive space that you're planning to enter in. How are you going to deal with the competition? And I, my mind was blown. I was like, oh my god, we've mainstreamed. And through k crops I don't even like cake cups because they're environmentally unfriendly, but k cups.

Speaker 3: That's fantastic. What has most surprised you in life?

Speaker 4: The gratitude and graciousness of humanity, even in spite of its darkness.

Speaker 3: That's a beautiful statement that I. That might be the best answer to that question that I've ever heard on the soundtrack of your life, diane. One track, one song that's got to be on there.

Speaker 4: Newsies a seize the day.

Speaker 3: Okay. We have different tastes in music and, and that's okay. You know,

Speaker 4: I feel a lot of music, but I'm telling you, you were going to add that to your, your, uh, your repertoire. It's all about standing together and fighting the fight.

Speaker 3: Well, I the message I'm behind and I am behind Diane Russell 2018. Diane, 20 eighteen.com. Go get them. Keep fighting as that senior woman told you. Keep fighting. Thanks so much for your time. We'll keep checking in with you. How about that?

Speaker 4: Sounds good. And my hashtag I have to fight like a girl and a team die. So check us out.

Speaker 3: There you have it. Diane. Thanks so much.

Speaker 4: African went. Thanks.

Speaker 3: And there you have Diane Russell.

Speaker 1: She seems like a reasonable person to me. She seems like a person that wants to do work for you. That seems like the kind of politician you know we could use and if fall around the edges you have issues with uh, the platform. Discuss it. Thanks to diane. Thanks to you. 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.