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Ep.302: CA State Assemblyman Rob Bonta

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.302: CA State Assemblyman Rob Bonta

Ep.302: CA State Assemblyman Rob Bonta

In a two-part interview, California Assemblyman Rob Bonta joins us. In part 1 recorded at his office in Oakland, he shares why when we had Prop 215 in place we needed MCRSA. He notes that for nearly 20 years there was no regulatory framework to protect the health of the patients and to guard against diversion. It wasn’t because it hadn’t been tried, it tried and failed. As the Chair of the Assembly Health committee, his goal was to make sure that everyone had true access to high quality affordable healthcare. In part 2, Rob shares what’s happening on the ground in the lead-up to Day 1. And shares the reconciliation process between medical and adult-use legislation.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Rob Bonta in a two part interview, California assemblymen. Robert Matsui joins us in part one, recorded at his office in Oakland. He shares why when we had prop 2:15 to place we needed EMC Rsa. He notes that for nearly 20 years there was no regulatory framework to protect the health of patients and to guard against diversion. It wasn't because it hadn't been tried and tried and failed as the chair of the Assembly Health Committee. His goal was to make sure that everyone had true access to high quality, affordable healthcare, and for to rob shares what's happening on the ground in the lead up to day one and chairs the reconciliation process between medical and adult use cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the American economy. That's two ends and the word economy. Rob Bonta, right. So we've got a quick few minutes

Speaker 2: now. This will be part one and part two. Part one is we had 2:15 in place in California, yet we needed MML, Rsa. The question being why? Because for nearly 20 years we didn't have a regulatory framework to protect our environment, to ensure the health of our patients and to guard against diversion to nonlegal uses of cannabis that all needed to happen and, and it wasn't because it hadn't been tried before, right? I haven't tried multiple times before and failed. And so we set about to do something in a different way that was very needed and that, that folks up and down the state had a vested interest in. And for me, I was the chair of the Assembly Health Committee, the, you know, my goal as, as the chair and my goal as a legislator now as no longer the chair, but someone who cares deeply about the healthcare of all people are all in our, in our state and our nation is to make sure that folks have.

Speaker 2: Everyone has a true access to high quality, affordable healthcare and you know, patients need their medicine and, and the state approved cannabis as a medicine for patients medical use of cannabis. But they were getting a medicine that was contaminated, that had metals in it, that had herbicides and pesticides, the quality of which no one had tested or, or knew what was in it. And these are people with compromised immune systems who are vulnerable and fragile and they deserve to be protected that they deserved a regulatory regime that could make them safer when you came in in 2012 and then you know, kind of wrote the bill in Twenty 15. Hey, thanks. By the way. Thank you. This wasn't necessarily where it is now. In other words, not everybody was on board. What made you understand that this actually was a medical issue and by that I mean cannabis.

Speaker 2: Why get behind it? What was it in you or what had you seen that made you think, yes, this is something that is a solution. You know, I represent the city of Oakland among the through gates cities that I represent. Adult help, right? There won't. Yes. Alameda and San Leandro. The other two great cities in the district, but Oakland has a. has a long history of being a pioneer and a leader in cannabis. Whether it be Oaksterdam or harbor side or any of the other dispensary's or the city government approving, um, uh, you know, the, the, the use and licensing of, of dispensaries here in Oakland and the people of Oakland supporting a, a revenue source and attacks tend to come from it. You know, this has been a, a, a city that's been on the cutting edge and I represent this, this great city and a that and the, the health components that I felt as, as the assembly healthcare and health committee member and the legislator were to, of the driving forces.

Speaker 2: And you know, I had, I have had done tours of, of dispensary's. I had met a patients who talked about how cannabis was the only medicine that could ease their pain and make them feel better than they have tried so many. And that for the one thing that could make them a ease their pain and make them feel stronger and healthier for that to be illegal and not able to be used, uh, was a problem for me. And there's so much we don't know. And, and, and there continues to be and there has been major stigmas around cannabis in the we've come a long way in a short time and part of what's happening during that time is the stigma is falling away. Yeah. And I think that's important. And, and, and putting a regulatory regime helped take that stigma away when, when, when cannabis was being grown in black and gray markets, when it was done with great damage to the environment with patients getting product that was unreliable and potentially dangerous.

Speaker 1: Rob Bonta in a two part interview, California assemblymen. Robert Matsui joins us in part one, recorded at his office in Oakland. He shares why when we had prop 2:15 to place we needed EMC Rsa. He notes that for nearly 20 years there was no regulatory framework to protect the health of patients and to guard against diversion. It wasn't because it hadn't been tried and tried and failed as the chair of the Assembly Health Committee. His goal was to make sure that everyone had true access to high quality, affordable healthcare, and for to rob shares what's happening on the ground in the lead up to day one and chairs the reconciliation process between medical and adult use cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the American economy. That's two ends and the word economy. Rob Bonta, right. So we've got a quick few minutes

Speaker 2: now. This will be part one and part two. Part one is we had 2:15 in place in California, yet we needed MML, Rsa. The question being why? Because for nearly 20 years we didn't have a regulatory framework to protect our environment, to ensure the health of our patients and to guard against diversion to nonlegal uses of cannabis that all needed to happen and, and it wasn't because it hadn't been tried before, right? I haven't tried multiple times before and failed. And so we set about to do something in a different way that was very needed and that, that folks up and down the state had a vested interest in. And for me, I was the chair of the Assembly Health Committee, the, you know, my goal as, as the chair and my goal as a legislator now as no longer the chair, but someone who cares deeply about the healthcare of all people are all in our, in our state and our nation is to make sure that folks have.

Speaker 2: Everyone has a true access to high quality, affordable healthcare and you know, patients need their medicine and, and the state approved cannabis as a medicine for patients medical use of cannabis. But they were getting a medicine that was contaminated, that had metals in it, that had herbicides and pesticides, the quality of which no one had tested or, or knew what was in it. And these are people with compromised immune systems who are vulnerable and fragile and they deserve to be protected that they deserved a regulatory regime that could make them safer when you came in in 2012 and then you know, kind of wrote the bill in Twenty 15. Hey, thanks. By the way. Thank you. This wasn't necessarily where it is now. In other words, not everybody was on board. What made you understand that this actually was a medical issue and by that I mean cannabis.

Speaker 2: Why get behind it? What was it in you or what had you seen that made you think, yes, this is something that is a solution. You know, I represent the city of Oakland among the through gates cities that I represent. Adult help, right? There won't. Yes. Alameda and San Leandro. The other two great cities in the district, but Oakland has a. has a long history of being a pioneer and a leader in cannabis. Whether it be Oaksterdam or harbor side or any of the other dispensary's or the city government approving, um, uh, you know, the, the, the use and licensing of, of dispensaries here in Oakland and the people of Oakland supporting a, a revenue source and attacks tend to come from it. You know, this has been a, a, a city that's been on the cutting edge and I represent this, this great city and a that and the, the health components that I felt as, as the assembly healthcare and health committee member and the legislator were to, of the driving forces.

Speaker 2: And you know, I had, I have had done tours of, of dispensary's. I had met a patients who talked about how cannabis was the only medicine that could ease their pain and make them feel better than they have tried so many. And that for the one thing that could make them a ease their pain and make them feel stronger and healthier for that to be illegal and not able to be used, uh, was a problem for me. And there's so much we don't know. And, and, and there continues to be and there has been major stigmas around cannabis in the we've come a long way in a short time and part of what's happening during that time is the stigma is falling away. Yeah. And I think that's important. And, and, and putting a regulatory regime helped take that stigma away when, when, when cannabis was being grown in black and gray markets, when it was done with great damage to the environment with patients getting product that was unreliable and potentially dangerous.

Speaker 2: Well, you know, when cannabis was being used for nonmedical purposes that helped generate the stigma, but when it was regulated and when an invitation through the MMR was sent out that says, come out of the shadows and into the light and come into the regulated market, follow all the rules and laws and operate a business that provides good jobs and pays taxes like any other business that helped us remove the stigma. So, um, but it was, there was a lot of folks who, who, who support compassionate use and I heard from them and committees or heard from them in meetings and heard from them in one-on-ones about how important cannabis as a medicine was that I wanted to make sure it continued to be available. So that squeaking sound of course was the blinds closing because you have this remarkable view by the way here in your office, and thank you for having us.

Speaker 2: But the other component, and I want to get back to health later, probably in part two, which will be in the same episode, but as far as we've tried and failed before, what was it that over that 20 year period didn't happen that you and other folks, you know, really the entire community was able to do 20 years later or 18. It was how we did it. We said we set about to do the work that became mmr NSA in, in a very different way, at collaborative way and inclusive way. A way that had legislators working with one another and having all stakeholders invited to the table and having a voice in shaping what would become a historic set of regulations that hadn't occurred in 20 years and so it took. It took a lot of work. It took literally thousands of hours of meetings and discussions to get to everywhere and it and it didn't.

Speaker 2: It didn't start like that from from day one. It wasn't always rosy. There were three or four bills that were introduced and I had one of them and and the history by the way, was that there would usually be a regulatory proposal put forth by the cities and law enforcement and then another one by industry and a patient advocates and they don't want to being on the same page, no one being on the same page with huge differences in between them and they'd run headlong into each other and then both explode and dissipate and we'd have to start over again the next year. And so there were different bills that were introduced. I had reached out to a number of interest groups and asked that folks get behind the bill that I was offering to try to put together a coalition that was different than the past, including growers by the way.

Speaker 2: Of course, right? Yeah, and grow with the folks all along the supply chain, patient advocates, labor unions. I'm law enforcement cities. We, we, we wanted them all to be part of it, but of course, because of the history, there was some dish lingering distrust, concern, and the league and law enforcement got behind another bill with another author. First Mr Cooley's bill. Mr Jones Sawyer had his own bill. Um, I had my own bill and then Mr Jones story or, and I spoke and we decided to work together. We combined efforts and then there was a, a critical moment in the process were Mr Cooley's bill and my billboard both in Appropriations Committee and the appropriations chair at the, at the time now, Congress member, Jimmy Gomez, assets to come to his office and he said, we have two bills right now that are in appropriations. One's coming out. So figure it out, boys together.

Speaker 2: To figure it out, and Mr Cooley a, a, a very committed legislator, someone who is a is a student of history and committed to the institution, saw this as an, as an opportunity to work together in a way that had never been done before. To break new ground, to do something different. I had a vision of, of all of us working together, all the authors coming behind one bill as joint authors in support of this heavy left and inviting all the stakeholders to the table and both Mr Cooley and I believe that with the relationships that we had with our respective sponsors and the interest groups that we had been working with, we could urge them to be part of something different and ask them to be a little uncomfortable in trying something novel and for once get to a place where everyone could, could agree and declare success and victory together.

Speaker 2: And so that's what we did. Yeah. If we're, if we're, if here's the finish line, folks, you know, here's what we've got, here's what they've got, what can we do together? Is that essentially what it was? Yes. And, and, and, and the politics were a big part of it. Probably either group of sponsors could stop the other side's bill, but if they came together then they would more likely than not and, and be successful and get the bill across. So they had a vested interest in, in working together. But you know, it was, it was tough. There was lincoln distrust, there were old wounds that were reopen. But our process was, everyone's voice gets heard. Every ideals welcome, put it on the table, we'll consider it. We're not going to agree to all of them. Some are impossible to agree to be because they, they are diametrically opposed on other.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. Which means that you can't have the other. Right. But, but we'll listen and where we can agree. Let's agree exactly what we can agree. Let's agree. Let's agree to disagree. Let's do everything we can to accommodate all of the interests in a way that makes sense for the state, for patients, for the environment, for public safety and see if we can get there. And when we told people why none of you are going to like every part of it, there are parts of this that you're going to dislike, you might even hate. But we believe that we can keep everyone a onboard this effort pointed in the same direction where no one walks away. And, and we got there and we gotta go, we gotta do this, gotTa do it.

Speaker 3: So that is the end of part one. So let's just jump back in and let's jump in on kind of today. Right? So if you and I are talking here in the fourth quarter of 2017, you know Jan one's a big day. No,

Speaker 4: it is big day.

Speaker 3: So. So give us a sense of if you could have what's happening around you, you know, what your doing, what's happening on the floor in anticipation of what's going on. And I should say this, that you should understand that I'm also talking with Laurie Ajax almost in the same moment.

Speaker 4: Absolutely. You know, this is a time for Laurie to shine. It's implementation time. And we've, we've, we've given our guidance through our legislation and, and the state of California, the voters of the state of California has, have given their guidance to prop 64 and we earlier had the mcrs Rsa, the medical cannabis regulation and safety act. We harmonize those two and, and work to make sure that everything was pointed in the right direction. We did a couple of budget trailer bills to help provide direction early enough so that the implementation of the regulatory side, uh, was that it had sufficient wrap up time. And we've always talked about January first 2018 as, as the data started issuing licenses that we've never backed up. Backed away from that. So that, that continues to be the, the goal and we're going to meet it. And you know, it's a heavy lift to stand as big as California to implement a set of regulations that are transformative and, and, and different than anything we've ever had before.

Speaker 4: Or Ajax is doing a great job. And there needs to be that there might need to be some temporary or emergency measures to help ensure that we get to where we want to be on January first, including accepting applications for temporary business licenses and uh, you know, having those permits be good for, for about four months. There was earlier talking about a proposed six months grace period for businesses to come into compliance, but that was eliminated recipe 94. And the overall approach and attitude of the bureau, I believe it's the right one there. They're saying that they're going to be reasonable and will not be looking to crack down on licensed businesses right away and that they're looking to implement a licensing program. And so, uh, I, I, you know, I think Mrs Jackson, this is doing the right thing but also racing against time. So it's not easy, not easy, but she is adjusting well. She's, you know, she's nimble and flexible and doing everything in her power to make this work. This is what the people of State of California through the, their vote wanting us to do. It's what the people of California through their representatives, legislators want us to do and she's doing it,

Speaker 3: but let's just work backwards a little bit. You said that six months, what will you decided on four for the temporary licenses and I'm hearing that it's because we want to do this and we want to do this now we want to get know true licenses into a responsible operators hands. Can you tell us more though on, on why we kind of said you know, six months isn't the way to go in four months is.

Speaker 4: Well I think the biggest distinction is that the six months time, six months and four months of having an affirmative license versus not having one to six months proposal was a grace period during which time you didn't need to have a license or come into compliance. You just had more time and, and, and it basically said January first 2018 is rapidly approaching it in order to make sure that good businesses and those working towards full compliance are allowed to give more time. But the. But the approach was a different one is still a being accommodating, but actually providing a license for six months saying you'll have a temporary permit for four months and, and that'll give us a little more time to ramp up our full licensing program and you know, you know, sort of bias some time while actually having people be licensed, albeit a temporary license.

Speaker 3: Now let's back now. Let's jump back in time and kind of understand, you know, from your perspective, the marrying of medical with adult use. Can you take us through those days and what you were thinking and what was important and why we did what we did?

Speaker 4: Yeah. Scope. Going back to

Speaker 4: fall of 2015, we were able to conclude a robust stakeholder engagement process and legislative process bringing coalitions together that had never been together that often been pitted against one another and, and, and fought bitterly, uh, with different philosophical approaches. We able to get them all to the table and get behind the medical cannabis regulation and safety act. And the governor signed it. Huge, huge victory and major policy change for the first time in nearly 20 years. We had a, a robust regulatory regime around medical cannabis in the state of California that protected our environment and has the public safety and protected our patients by ensuring quality of medicine. And, and, and a year later in 2016, the prop 64, the adult use act was marijuana act was passed and that, that was largely modeled after an in, built on the work of the EMC Rsa, the work that we did through the legislature, but it also elected, um, the writers of that proposition elected to depart in a couple of key ways.

Speaker 4: So, uh, that was voted in by about 50 percent, seven percent of the voters. So, you know, solid victory a statewide in terms of the percentage of the vote. So we had to reconcile the medical component that we did through the legislature and the adult use framework that occurred through the Caliph California's proposition process. And, you know, we wanted to make sure that all of the key components, the, you know, the, the things that made each successful remains, you know, making public safety a top priority, uh, and protecting our environment and making sure the patients and users were protected. And so, uh, you know, we, we set about to do that and we, we wanted to do that, that, that reconciliation process and, and, and put it to bed with enough time for the regulating agencies to implement. So typically if you're passing a bill, getting it signed into law by the governor has until late October to sign bills which only gives, you know, two months, two and a half months for implementation. That's why we went through another process to get resolution earlier. And we did it through the budget process. And so we had robust discussions with, with the governor's office, the key legislative team that helped get the mtrs say together of which at across the finish line of which I was a member. And, and, uh, you know, all the key stakeholders as well. And you know, there were, there were certain decisions that needed to be made around things like, um, distribution

Speaker 3: and that because that was the key, you know, what we were talking about at the time know as an industry was the key difference. A amendment 64 and EMC RSA being distribution talk through, I guess your thoughts at the time and what we wound up with.

Speaker 4: We refer to as an exclusive distributor, the distributor to distributor license if you're going to be a distributor in and have no other licenses. And it was also a mandatory distributor, so exclusive and mandatory. You had to use a distributor if you're going to get your goods to market. And that was, that's a model that has been used successfully in the alcohol industry. And so we modeled our policy based on something that has already existed and in another market in California. But there were folks who who felt differently including the authors of proposition 64. And so they did not have the exclusive mandatory distributor written into, into their legacy, to their proposition. So we needed to figure out. I think everyone agreed that it didn't make sense to have two separate side by side code coexisting, but different regimes, one for medical, one for adult use that to the extent we could reconcile and create a, you know, the same set of rules for the most part, for, for both that that would make great more streamlining and efficiencies and workability.

Speaker 4: And so we needed to figure out what that was gonna look like. And in the end there was, um, there were compromises around, uh, you know, having an inspector and, you know, doing quality assurance and quality control at certain points and the supply chain and also allowing for what was called self distributor ship from, from some cannabis businesses so that they didn't have to go to a, you know, an exclusive mandatory distributor. And we were able to get there through the same process that has helped us be successful throughout the different points along along this journey by sitting down at the table and having stakeholders who felt differently, put their ideas on the table and hash them out and see where there's common ground. So, uh, that one wasn't easy. That was one where there were, there were high passions and strong passions on each side, but, but where in the end we were able to get to an arrangement that was workable and allowed us to move forward with reconciliation in a timely manner.

Speaker 3: There you go. You brought up the fact that, you know, kind of we want it to be a uniform industry and take this as one thing as opposed to, you know, two different approaches for medical and for adult use. I wonder what your thoughts are about what has happened in Washington state now. They were different in terms of medical going in, meaning they did not have medical regulations either 20 years ago or you know, two years ago I'm going into, you know, passing adult use. And uh, essentially what I'm getting at is in Washington medical patients have had, you know, kind of issues getting medicine cannabis as medicine. Um, you know, through the kind of new setup. I wonder what your thoughts are, you know, taking that approach in. I wonder what your thoughts are taking the approach that you did in California as far as cannabis as medicine. And making sure that that remains sacrosanct.

Speaker 4: I think it always comes back to that there's a broader discussion happening nationwide about cannabis and slash recreational use. But to me, one of the most compelling reasons to create regulations that increased safety and responsible use was to make sure that patients, many of whom had compromised immune systems, were reliably receiving a medicine that was free of contaminants or metals, pesticides, et cetera that could harm them. And they're already fragile state Edison. It's supposed to make you well, make you better, um, help help you remove pain. Um, as you struggle with whatever health condition you have it, it's not to make you sicker, more ill create more pain because, you know, our medicines are, are highly regulated, um, generally, uh, you know, and outside of the cannabis space and they're tested and they're dosages are clear, their potency is known and they're high quality. And so I, I believe that all patients deserve that same level of quality and access to the medicines that they're using. And so I was the assembly healthcare, uh, and uh, that was one of the most compelling arguments for why I got into being a lead policy maker in California on cannabis for patients to have access to high quality medicine. They weren't getting it at all times. They even had the thought that patients, I'm taking medicine that was contaminated and it could be harmful to their health and make them actually worse off, frustrated me and made me want to fix that problem.

Speaker 3: This does kind of get us to, you know, how you've come in to a cannabis as medicine and just being kind of a, one of the names that we kind of turned to as far as cannabis, you know, the cannabis industry loves you, rob. I mean, let's be honest. Um, because you're doing the work, uh, you know, was it being the healthcare, was that your first foray in or, or is there a, you know, was it simply that, hey, these guys and gals aren't getting their medicine and we need to make sure that they do.

Speaker 4: That was one of the main driving forces. There was a second one as well, which is that I represent Oakland, California, a pioneer in creating access to cannabis and have a dam and harbor side of the legendary names that you hear when you hear about cannabis. And frankly, I didn't follow those entities journeys, um, you know, when they were in their pioneering mode, but I learned about them and I appreciated them and one of my duties and obligations is to be a strong voice for my district. And um, you know, there's definitely an openmindedness even an embrace of cannabis here in my district as medicine. And so a lot of people who approach cannabis as a policy issue got, got stuck on the stigma and couldn't move beyond it. And it got stuck on, on the superficiality of, of what other people said or what other people thought.

Speaker 4: I, without being able to dig into the real policy components. And I have a district that, that has moved beyond that, that, that isn't knee jerk reaction area and saying all things cannabis are bad at. That they understand that medicine is important. And even, uh, an appreciation for responsible adult use under the right conditions. So I came at this with an open mind, certainly a willingness to learn, um, and, and frankly, when the, uh, after multiple attempts by different coalitions of interest groups to get a medical regulations passed, and those two efforts usually occurring at the same time and running headlong into one another and blowing up and crashing and burning and ending. A number of folks came to me and thought that I might be an author that could bring folks to the different stakeholders to the table who didn't always get along and maybe encourage them to think in different ways or stretch a little bit to try to find areas of common ground.

Speaker 4: I often think that there's more common ground than people might initially think. That if we really work together and sit at the table together and respectfully listen to one another, we can find them. And it wasn't easy. It was, it was arduous and long and difficult. And we setbacks along the way. But our commitment to the process, I think of, of stakeholder engagement, of listening, allowing every idea to be put on the table that anyone wanted to put there for, for assessment and study and discussion. I think everyone felt listened to even if not always agreed with. And I think, I think that's critical. You know, how you do it is it matters. And um, and, and, and we did it in a way that we invited everyone to have a voice and to participate. And um, you know, I, I think given my district's experience with cannabis, given my role as to help and commitment to true access to high quality, affordable healthcare for all, I think those principles also helped us get to success. But, but it was a coalition effort. We needed my, you know, my partners, my legislative partners from Ken Cooley to Jim would to, to Reggie Jones Sawyer. I'm to Tom Lackey, a republican bipartisan coalition to work together and push collectively to, to get this done and never would have happened if we didn't all put aside our individual interests and work towards a, you know, a larger collective goal. And we did that. I think that one of the big reasons for the success,

Speaker 3: enough diversity in thought, meaning competing voices within the cannabis industry, let alone to add a republican to the thing you really doing yeoman's work. You also hear your, your approach seems to be a not what the approach seems to be currently as far as elected officials are concerned. Meeting. It seems like we're in a moment where it's either us or them, it's us versus them, you know, my opinion of course is that when we say us versus them here in the United States of America, we're also us on the other side, their folks. So I wonder where. Yeah, I wonder where your kind of work ethic and your, you know, the way that you look at things, where that comes from because you know, I don't see it in a lot of elected officials these days, you know, is that instilled in you by your parents? What was it like growing up? I guess?

Speaker 4: No. I've said before, there's no us and them. There's only us together. We're going to succeed together or we're not going to succeed at all, so we have to work together. And in the executive branch I chose a role in the legislative branch where I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm not the top of the pyramid and the person who gets to issue executive decisions, I'm, I'm, I'm one of many and 80 legislators, one of, 120, I want to of 87 members, one of 120 legislators when you include the 40 senators. And so, you know, I've never seen legislation that doesn't require the votes of my colleagues, uh, you know, and, and, and building coalitions and communicating and working well with one another in order to accomplish something. And, you know, I, I grew up playing high highly competitive team sports and I played soccer growing up, you know, a team of 22, usually 11 on the field at one time working together towards a common goal.

Speaker 4: Each, uh, you know, taking care of their roles and responsibilities. But, but when working together and creating a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. And I've seen it time and time again, that's a game that taught me so many life lessons in terms of goal setting and teamwork and overcoming adversity, um, and, and, uh, you know, hard work and commitment and allowed me to see the world and go to college, uh, as a, as a national soccer recruit. And so I only know one way to do it. And that's as a team working together, listening, I'm finding common ground, not compromising values but, but working to find common ground will where we can work together in intersections of values, common values between one another. And, and I've also seen places where collective bodies don't work. I think the congress right now is one of them.

Speaker 4: Hyper partisan gridlock, nothing getting done. Uh, and when that happens, you might think you're winning for your team by fighting the opposing team with all your might, but your constituents and the people are losing. And if we're not delivering to California, instead, we're failing. That's why we were sent to the legislature. We got to put our differences aside, whether it'd be a party or values or are geographical differences. And find ways to work together. It's, it's, it's, it's the diversity that's there at which creates the opportunity for, for a dialogue that's, that's injected with, with new approaches and novel ways of seeing things as I'm guided by the district that people are from that, that lead to better ideas, stronger ideas, ideas without unintended consequences and that lead to the most success for the most people. So that's just always been my approach, you know, it is in large part due to my parents. I've seen them be part of these amazing social justice movements when everyday people from, from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages and ethnicities and cultures all came together to fight for something, whether it be my dad marching in Selma and standing with Martin Luther King Junior or my parents both work for the united farm workers of America. You know, one of the great collaborative movements of Latinos and Filipinos and many other groups fighting for a common goal everyday people, um, you know, coming together with a common goal of creating great change.

Speaker 4: Other top has. I mean, my parents worked directly with other topics. We lived in the headquarters when he was there with Dolores Huerta and Philip Vera Cruz and many others, legendary leaders have, you know, my family has had direct contact with an involvement with. And so that's something that has always stuck with me

Speaker 3: that's kind of working together and working with your colleagues, you know, just quickly on, on voters, you know, I uh, represent we the people here as someone that's not an, unless not an elected official and you know, where are we when, Eh, you know, Jeff Flake can't get elected as a Republican in Arizona. What, what do we do about that? You know what I mean? He should be able to get elected as a Republican, you know what I mean? W W, what do we do as voters? What would be your advice? What are you thinking? All of that.

Speaker 4: I think it's a sad, tragic and difficult place when that's happening. I think that sometimes there's a tendency for our parties to send forward as their candidate the most extreme version of the party. So you know, so you know that's kind of what the tea party is and the Freedom Party, not just Republicans, certainly not moderate Republicans, very, very extreme thinking. Republicans and rarely does the extreme get you to a place where you can work with others. If you have two extremes from two different parties put in the same body and their goal is to work together, they're going to sit in their corners and and and and fight and disparage and point fingers, not come to a table together to work out differences and find out what the path to success is for each of their respective sets of constituents. And so voters are incredibly powerful.

Speaker 4: They can say no to the extremes. They can say yes to folks who have whatever you want to call it. I'm more practical, more moderate, more open minded, more thoughtful, whatever word you want to use, but those who are actually going to lead and not just tell people what to do, but listen to the people and their colleagues and any stakeholder on any issue and weigh the different perspectives and inject their, their values that the voters sent them there to fight for and compressed sound policy and it sounds easier said than done, but we too often don't do it. And in this profession, and because we don't, the people lose people, lose the people with the voters and if they feel like they're not getting proper representation, they can, they can move in a different direction. You know, one of the reasons that, that, that uh, Mr Blake decided that he wasn't gonna run, I think I'm told I understand for the media was that he was going to lose.

Speaker 4: And so that means that the people weren't, weren't with him. They were, they were more committed to someone more upstream and, you know, trump back to candidate. And Mr Trump is someone that you thought a uniter he, um, I believe he's incredibly divisive. Um, but, but he, he, he's not unclear on where he stands, you know, um, you know, I, I wouldn't say there's a lot of policy depth and a lot of areas, but you know, he, he's, he's plain spoken and direct and, and, and strong and what he's saying in terms of, you know, how firmly he's saying it and that attracts people and when he gets behind someone who's like that, you know, that can attract some of the same people. And so, uh, but I think that that's good for our country and when we have, you know, this isn't a corporation where there's a ceo who, who has done orders from above. We have a separation of powers, we have checks and balances, we need people that respect our, our constitutional structure of government that work with one another within it to do what's best for the, for the people at large. And um, I think we're electing folks, some folks who who are going to be successful working within that structure. And I think that people lose when that happens.

Speaker 3: It's so obvious to see and hopefully we can almost do a u turn here just as far as like you said, uh, you know, if I disagree with you on a, you know, a few policies, but you are not divisive in the way that you approach this, then. Okay, fine. Let's find that common ground that you spoke about earlier. All right, so you don't have a ton of time. So I have to ask you the three final questions, but my next trip to the bay area, hopefully you'll be in town and we can talk again. How about that? Alright. So here are the 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 on the soundtrack of his life? One track, one song that's got to be on there. First things first, what has most surprised you in cannabis? You have a unique view of this whole thing.

Speaker 4: What has surprised me in cannabis is, although it's eroding, how much the stigma of cannabis, not the reality, but the stigma, just a word to image the reference to cannabis. How much that made some policymakers nervous.

Speaker 3: Yeah, it's amazing, right?

Speaker 4: That, that they weren't willing to get past it and have a discussion and hear more and learn more and you know, talk about public safety and protecting our environment and protecting patients. There were some, uh, lawmakers who said that bill involved cannabis against it, right to here anymore. And so that was both surprising and disappointing. It's changing. It's changing rapidly. That stigma is eroding

Speaker 3: over the past couple of days here with constellation brands. Best known for Corona Beer, uh, investing in that Canadian company. Of course they have to invest in a Canadian company because it is a schedule one substance here in the United States of America. Have you had any kind of conversations? And again, it's been, what, 24, 48, 72 hours at best kind of business first type of legislators who have noticed the constellation brands, you know, corona company investing in the cannabis company. Uh, you know, a canopy growth in Canada have, what, what are you hearing on the floor there

Speaker 4: as this market? It's a huge growth opportunity, right? Emerging market, lots of opportunities for investment and business activity. And one of the things that I think has really helped change the image of the cannabis industry and remove the stigma is that folks, business people, high level business people, successful business people in other sectors of the business market and have nothing to do with cannabis, are now coming over and saying this is a business opportunity. Like any other business opportunity, we're going to use our, our full professionalism and investment to create a state of the art. I'm a business operations, you know, with uh, with uh, an efficient supply chain and, and, and, um, you know, well compensated, high high quality workers and capital investments just like we would for any other business and, and make it successful and you know, and that, and then when you do tours of, of the top players in, in each of the different segments, whether it be manufacturers or dispensary's or cultivators and you see just how professional it is, that image of an illegal grow in the middle of the wilderness, siphoning water from the local stream while putting pesticides into Ed and having gun toting garments protect it.

Speaker 4: That all goes away and that changes the image and the new image is the one that we were hoping to create. What the regulation is, is one of professionalism and business acumen and a business like any other paid taxes and creating good jobs for Californians. And, and that was our proposition. Our proposition was come out of the shadows, come into the light, embrace the regulated marketplace, and you can participate and be successful like any other business in California.

Speaker 3: There we go. Hey, you mentioned the

Speaker 4: farm just quickly, how's everybody doing with the, uh, with the wildfires there is that kind of started to settle down at least a little bit. It's slowing down, but you know, a 14 year old girl who was so competent, the fires burned, just passed away and don't know. It's just, it's so tragic that the deaths of, of our fellow California and the disruption to thousands of homes, um, raises big questions around, um, you know, extreme weather and the natural disasters that we might face in the future, but we're, you know, we're coming together as we should and rallying around the areas that have been suffering as, as, as Californians in northern Californians. And that's the silver lining. I like to look at it in the midst of the tragedy.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Is there a, a, a Goto, you know, kind of website or you know, that you can guide us too as far as, you know, these folks are doing a good job. Maybe, maybe, uh, you know, go to this either web address or donate here type of thing.

Speaker 4: There's some like supply distribution centers where I think a lot of folks are driving their resources for funding and for supplies and equipment and I can, I think some of the local fire departments or are in charge of that and I, you know, our, our firefighters, our first responders have been absolutely amazing. You know, a number of mine in my district. I'm going out there immediately upon hearing of the, of the, of the disaster to help in, in different ways and, and so, um, you know, thanks again to our amazing first responders and the website. I don't have off the top my head, but I can, I'll have it sent to you.

Speaker 3: Perfect. And then I'll just put it up, you know, after you answered the final two questions, we'll, we'll put it up in the, in the post. Um, uh, yeah, no, the firefighters being a New Yorker, a, those guys and gals are. It's amazing. That's a job that I could never, no one would want me to be in that job.

Speaker 4: Yes.

Speaker 3: Than I am. Just not brave enough. But those, those folks are amazing. All right, so, so quickly changing tack to those final two questions. I mean eight, you are a person who is only one generational step away from folks like Martin Luther King and says your child has a pretty unbelievable, but what's most surprised you in life?

Speaker 4: Life. I guess one of the things is, is that there's no,

Speaker 4: I think I kind of searched for the secret sauce or that, that, that, uh, you know, special recipe for success and what I guess what surprised me is that there isn't one, it's, it's the fundamental that, that, that, that everyone knows about that anyone can do that. Not everybody does do that, that help you to be successful. And you know, things like we were just talking about, right? Like when we talk about it, it sounds so common sense. You be a good team player, work with others and find common ground, uh, you know, work hard, follow your values, be passionate, um, and you know, do what you're passionate about and fight for the people you care about. Like there's, there's, there's no secret. But I was looking for one for some time and, and, uh, and uh, I've, I've studied great leaders and, and, and, and, and I think I have something I can learn from every single person I meet no matter who it is and for how long, but I think, um, you know, it's, it's, it's pursuing, it's being, you being authentic and, and following the things that your mother taught you with passion and doing it consistently that I think helped us all be successful as we work with one another to address many of the great challenges that we're facing here in California here in this nation.

Speaker 4: And even throughout the world. And seeing, um, you know, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll poke a little bit here. Seeing, uh, a president who, who doesn't do much of that and the damage and the pain and the hurt that he's causing even reinforces my belief that even more

Speaker 3: what I have learned is I'm right there with you. There is no secret. I, it seems like I just have to keep getting up every single day and working as hard as possible. And then, you know, kind of rinse and repeat.

Speaker 4: Exactly. Yeah. Tough. It's hard to sustain it and, and doing it the right way is often the hard way, but it's the way to do it.

Speaker 3: That's it. All right, so now we've come to it here. Rob, as far as the soundtrack of your life. One track one song that's got to be on there.

Speaker 4: Going to date me a little bit because I used to listen to the soundtrack when I was a boy. My Dad used to play it at home, but it's electric light orchestra, Mr. Blue Sky, Jeff Lynn back recently in guardians of the galaxy, guardians of the galaxy, two optimistic songs and inspiring song energizing song. And I think that's the reference to blue sky is, is how I see the world and how I see people. I trying to see who we can be and the best of who we are and try to find ways to lift people up.

Speaker 3: Jeff, Lynne and the boys in the electric light off in the electric light orchestra. I'll also, uh, a member by the way of the traveling Wilburys as you, uh, I'm sure now, right? Outstanding. Rob Bonta. Thank you so much for your time. I can't wait to see when I get to, uh, you know, the bay area next and um, you know, just keep on plugging along man. Appreciate the time.

Speaker 1: And there you have rob Bonta. I mean one step away from Martin Luther King, one step away from Cesar Chavez. That's pretty unbelievable and uh, no steps away right there in the room for cannabis legislation legalization and regulation in California. Thanks to him. 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.