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Ep.356: US Congressman Tom Garrett

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.356: US Congressman Tom Garrett

Ep.356: US Congressman Tom Garrett

Recorded before any mention of resignation- or reasoning for that resignation- US Congressman Tom Garrett joins us and shares what sound like sensible measures in addressing legal cannabis in the United States of America. Further Congressman Garrett discusses the importance of uniformly enforcing the law- tipping his cap to the fact that institutional racism exists and even stating that racial prejudice is at work. He speaks of laboratories for democracy in each state. And he speaks of caregivers and patients being able to make decisions for themselves. He also discusses the fact that the United States of America is “peeing away economic opportunity” but not leading or even participating in the cannabis global landscape. And finally he discusses the reform movement in the United States Congress being more about age than party.

Transcript:

Seth Adler: Representative Garrett, Congressman Garrett.

Tom Garrett: Hey, it's good to be here.

Seth Adler: Yeah. What are your thoughts on my cost-cutting measures?

Tom Garrett: I think that frugality is the essence of success, ultimately, right?

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: It'll give you the resources you need later to do the things you need to do.

Seth Adler: I guess, here, we have someone that feels that we need to do something right now as far as legal cannabis is concerned.

Tom Garrett: Well, ultimately, the Federal paradigm is to keep laws on the books that make absolutely no sense and then enforce them selectively ...

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: ... which creates a circumstance that manifest itself in injustice. We were talking right before we went on that justice that isn't blind is by definition, not justice.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: A world where we're supposed to be a nation of laws, what crosses the mind of a young person, usually of color, when they realize that they're kicking doors and at the housing projects and ignoring the smell of marijuana waffing across the lot of state university X. That's just wrong. If we were to uniformly enforce the law, I probably wouldn't be sitting here. We're not putting that genie back in the bottle.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: If that's the case, then what should the federal government role be.

Seth Adler: Yeah. The government role should be nothing, right?

Tom Garrett: Well, as you-

Seth Adler: You want to de-schedule. That's your bill.

Tom Garrett: Yeah. De-scheduling is not the half of our bill. Ours is a complete federal dereg with the exception of transport from a state where it's legal to a state where it's not, which actually is Interstate Commerce. Right now, you've got a lie a tortured logic Interstate Commerce argument use to bolster federal intervention in an arena that could quite literally be accomplished intrastate in all 50 states, right?

Seth Adler: Representative Garrett, Congressman Garrett.

Tom Garrett: Hey, it's good to be here.

Seth Adler: Yeah. What are your thoughts on my cost-cutting measures?

Tom Garrett: I think that frugality is the essence of success, ultimately, right?

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: It'll give you the resources you need later to do the things you need to do.

Seth Adler: I guess, here, we have someone that feels that we need to do something right now as far as legal cannabis is concerned.

Tom Garrett: Well, ultimately, the Federal paradigm is to keep laws on the books that make absolutely no sense and then enforce them selectively ...

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: ... which creates a circumstance that manifest itself in injustice. We were talking right before we went on that justice that isn't blind is by definition, not justice.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: A world where we're supposed to be a nation of laws, what crosses the mind of a young person, usually of color, when they realize that they're kicking doors and at the housing projects and ignoring the smell of marijuana waffing across the lot of state university X. That's just wrong. If we were to uniformly enforce the law, I probably wouldn't be sitting here. We're not putting that genie back in the bottle.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: If that's the case, then what should the federal government role be.

Seth Adler: Yeah. The government role should be nothing, right?

Tom Garrett: Well, as you-

Seth Adler: You want to de-schedule. That's your bill.

Tom Garrett: Yeah. De-scheduling is not the half of our bill. Ours is a complete federal dereg with the exception of transport from a state where it's legal to a state where it's not, which actually is Interstate Commerce. Right now, you've got a lie a tortured logic Interstate Commerce argument use to bolster federal intervention in an arena that could quite literally be accomplished intrastate in all 50 states, right?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: We're sitting somewhere where it's pretty clear you can do this in any state in the union. People talked about things like 50 laboratories for democracy, let it go. If Alabama has a different policy than Connecticut and Colorado has a different policy than Kentucky, which they probably wouldn't.

Seth Adler: Right. So it shall be is your point.

Tom Garrett: Right. First is the injustice, right?

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom Garrett: If you don't apply to the law uniformly, then the law is manifestly unjust. Secondly is, allow people and their caregivers or doctors, et cetara, to make decisions for themselves. Thirdly, we're peeing away economic opportunity.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: We're destroying jobs and opportunity for Americans.

Seth Adler: You lay out three big pieces. Let's unpack that a little bit. You mentioned that you're a former prosecutor and really, you're irritated by the fact that it just doesn't make sense, legally, what we're doing. Just give us a couple of words on where you have been as far as cannabis and prosecuting in the past and how that has evolved as far as your thinking is concerned.

Tom Garrett: What should drive the decision of someone who's job it is to enforce the laws is the laws. It shouldn't be the wherewithal of the potential criminal defendant. It shouldn't be what they look like or how they worship or who they sleep with or what have you. What I try to do as a prosecutor and I'm quite proud of was enforce these laws of the common wealth of Virginia that was charged with enforcing uniformly and without regard to any external character trait of the defendant and that's not happening.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: It's really not happening at the federal level.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: Because there is no such thing as legal marijuana in America right now.

Seth Adler: That's right. That's right.

Tom Garrett: Because the federal government won't move, and then if you look at the opioid crisis, if you look at the fact that in so many areas, CBD extracts and cannabinoids are exit drugs, they're gateway drugs ...

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: ... they were exit drugs from the opioid crisis. If you look at the medical side of this to keep as a Schedule 1, "No redeeming medical use controlled substance," applies in the face of science and logic and candidly, should we be, in any state, to tell these people what they should and shouldn't do depending upon what we think and not they think as in their best interest. The answer is, no.

Seth Adler: Right. As far as this social justice piece, looking at the law blindly, meaning, it doesn't matter what you look like, it doesn't matter who you worship, who you love, all that. You, at least on paper, would be an unlikely source for that type of thinking.

Tom Garrett: Well, I think it's because the social justice argument has been politicized to the point where it's, we believe in social justice and they don't. I think that's completely false.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Tom Garrett: I'm all about empowering individuals to empower themselves, which means that the role of the government is the real question, right?

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom Garrett: Yeah. I spoke it normal and I started off by saying, "Look, I got to tell you, I don't give an expletive lead about marijuana, but I do care about equal justice and equal application of law and empowering individuals to make decisions for themselves." If we arrive at the same decisions as some folks in the social justice from a different pathway, we're still in the same spot.

Seth Adler: Yeah. That's fair. I take your point, but you do have a different point of view than many others of your colleagues.

Tom Garrett: Sure.

Seth Adler: I wonder if it's your military service that has informed your equitable nature.

Tom Garrett: No. I think it's probably the fact that I'm a student history and I represent a district in Virginia where a slave under the name Jefferson [Penn 00:07:12], the words that all people were created equal and introducing a fledging nation to the world, right?

Seth Adler: Okay.

Tom Garrett: So that imperfect people sometimes give us near perfect ideas, but the role of government should be to empower the individual regardless of the circumstances surrounding that individual and any law should be uniformly applied or changed. There's the session's quote nobody got.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: "If you don't like the law, change the law." At which point, I jokingly say, I say, "Here, somebody hold my beer"

Seth Adler: Well, that's it. That is where, by the way, Jeff Sessions and Jim Cole agree. Because I spoke to Jim Cole right after the memos were rescinded and his point was, even when we wrote these memos, congress acting would've been the better way to go with this.

Tom Garrett: Right. You've got a political class who is more concerned with their re-elect than they are with doing what's right. You've heard the cliché that our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors. I'd say it's not a cliché. It's literally true. We've devolved into a political class of people who's worried about polls, who are worried about how things look, et cetera. I really believe that leadership means sometimes doing things that people think you shouldn't do because they're right and bringing people to you. We're 10, 15 years behind on this.

Seth Adler: You've got a good point on good politics versus bad politics that you've mentioned in the past.

Tom Garrett: I would submit the good politics is looking at people and I tell them, "What you're going to do" and then doing it, that being afraid of a political outcome will never get us great results. That whether it was the people who rebelled against a crown that was tyrannical from crossing the ocean or people like Barbara Johns who rebelled as a 16-year-old girl against an idea that separate but equal was even ... it means a lie. It was illegally perpetuated lie, but the people who change the world are always the ones who are willing to take that chance. It's amazing to be here because you got a lot of people ... Somebody was asking me what it look like. I said, "These are just bright, motivated, intelligent people who are willing to take risks." This could be a tech conference. This could be any sort of arena that happens to be something that's been stigmatized intentionally for generations.

Seth Adler: We are here at MJBizCon next. Do you allow your mind to go back? Obviously, you do. You quoted Jefferson and you've been talking about history informing the way that you think. What about prohibition in cannabis? Do you look at the cause and effect? Do you look at the causes? What are your thoughts on them if you do?

Tom Garrett: Well, the background history of how we got where we are on cannabis is one that is, I think, a group politics. Who is using this product, and then probably steeped in some racial prejudice, et cetera. It's ridiculous. I believe that the American revolution should've never ended that we threw off a crown then we had a million people die, half a million in combat and half a million from starvation disease to get rid of an evil institution called slavery. Then it took 55 more years to get the vote to women. Then it took some odd more years before this rights movement really got underway, but the founders didn't give us a perfect union. They give us the ability to create a more perfect union.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: The word "More" means there's work yet to be done. This is, ironically, an issue. I think we're in justice and things that are antithetical to the American idea manifest themself. Let me be clear, I'm not advocating for any state to do anything. I'm advocating for the federal government to recognize the role of the federal government to allow the states to do as they should choose, so long as individuals aren't harming others.

Seth Adler: Right. If there's an R in front of your name, which there is, that all makes sense. However-

Tom Garrett: If we're intellectually consistent, right?

Seth Adler: If we're intellectually consistent. Absolutely. Now, here's the thing though. You also said a bunch other stuff that most folks with the R in the beginning of their names don't say, and I wonder if that has something to do with your age. You seem to be about my age, right?

Tom Garrett: Right.

Seth Adler: How old are you?

Tom Garrett: 46.

Seth Adler: Okay. I'm 42. Right in the same kind of neighborhood. I've spoken with many of your colleagues. I do note that it's, and I don't want to put a number on it, but it's over a certain number think a certain way and under a certain number are starting to think very differently.

Tom Garrett: Very note where the exceptions of Earl Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabache and Don Young.

Seth Adler: Of course. Right.

Tom Garrett: For the most part, the reformed movement in congress breaks down on how old you are.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: I said this in the last panel we were in, "Everybody of our generation knows somebody who's used recreationally, we learned that they aren't horrible people."

Seth Adler: Right. Right.

Tom Garrett: They're good people. They have done jobs. They support families. They love their kids just like everybody else does. The stigmatization has gone to a large degree. Again, I'm not advocating on behalf of poor life decisions and overuse of any substance to include alcohol, probably not a great life decision. What is the role of the government? What is the role of law? Should law not be uniformly enforced? These are all simple questions.

Seth Adler: Yeah. You've got government, you've got jobs, you've got law all in the same sense. I would like to take it forward to your state, tobacco state.

Tom Garrett: Right.

Seth Adler: One that has lost many, many jobs and you see opportunity. As far as jobs are concerned, you mentioned it twice before here.

Tom Garrett: The role of government as I see it is to create circumstances where individuals can act and be successful and create jobs an opportunity for others. Ironically, as it relates to this industry, the success stories have succeeded in spite of government, not because of it. Ultimately, there's not any such thing as legal marijuana in America right now.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: Anyway, even in states where it is because the federal government, particularly the legislature has refused to act, which perpetuates injustice and really delegitimizes the government in the eyes of a young person and looks around and says, "Well, if we're a country of laws, how come this, how come that?" If we want to maintain our street cred, to use a colloquialism, we need to do our jobs.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: That's going to be politically uncomfortable for some folks, but if this job was easy, everybody would do it, right?

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: Sometimes you have to do things that are uncomfortable because they're right and the courage that's required for legislators to act on this whether republicans or democrats and there, actually, are a lot of both, is so pale in comparison to that, which Dr. King had to have every morning when he got out of bed, right?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: Barbara Johns, that 16-year-old girl who let a student walk out to protest a ridiculous legal lie called, Separate but Equal, she had to move for fear of her life. The founders who died, the young poor person from a state who marched away to war to combat amongst many things, slavery who never even had any concept of what it was, but they were willing to die to do what was right. There's political cost, so what. This is nothing. If this is courage, I'd hate to see cowardice.

Seth Adler: "If this is courage, I'd hate to see cowardice." What a quote. Again, I've got to try to get into your mind here. You are a free thinker and many folks in congress, at least, on the outside, externally or not, free thinkers, where does that come from? Does that come from mom? Does that come from dad?

Tom Garrett: With my dad and my mom.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Tom Garrett: Again, a student history. I hate this movement that support to attack Jefferson. It was not perfect, right?

Seth Adler: Clearly not perfect.

Tom Garrett: Right. It conceded on the front, but the idea that all people are created equal is a damn near perfect idea, right?

Seth Adler: Absolutely.

Tom Garrett: King David was God's favorite and yet, he was killing people and sleeping with other people's wives. It's clearly not perfect. Moses argued with God when he was told to take the Israelites out of Egypt. Clearly, that perfect but did some amazing things.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Right. Also, I'm not perfect. I don't know. Maybe, you're not perfect.

Tom Garrett: There's all kinds of people who will vouch, but the ideas. I'm such a nerd that my youngest child, his middle name is Lock. We named our children after long dead verge philosophers, nerds like me, but if you want the best for the collective, then empower the individual, right?

Seth Adler: Okay. Let's actually take that if you don't mind. I'd love to take that point forward into this, how can we get away from this ridiculousness of left versus right, us versus them whenever you turn on any channel whatsoever, it's yelling at that side, yelling at that side. You don't sound like you're yelling at anybody. You have these beliefs, which you hold dear.

Tom Garrett: Right.

Seth Adler: Anybody willing to work with you, it sounds like you'll work with ...

Tom Garrett: Well, we went on-

Seth Adler: ... including Tulsi Gabbard and others.

Tom Garrett: Tulsi Gabbard was an original co-sponsor to bill.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: Well, I've reached out to everybody across the isle. I've talked to a lot of people that say they'd supported, but they won't put their name on it. It's not an argued thing.

Seth Adler: Yeah. How do we get away from this ridiculousness?

Tom Garrett: That's a gatekeeper question. It's funny, we came to that in the last panel that we are in. If a subcommittee chair didn't want to hear a bill, he didn't hear it. If the committee chair didn't want a bill to come in the full committee, she didn't let it. If the leadership didn't want a bill to come to the floor, they don't let it.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Tom Garrett: We're going to have a paradigm change in November whether republicans hold the house or not because we're going to get a new speaker, that speaker somebody should get with in a room with the doors closed and say, "We want to make sure that whoever chairs the judiciary committee is open to allowing the will of a bipartisan group of legislators," because we have a majority right now, but we can't get past the gatekeepers. I don't want to start creating litmus test because we'd never confirmed anybody for anything.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Tom Garrett: Let's make them answer. Let's look them in the eyes and then hold them to keep their word. Because again, I have no doubt that we pass this thing now. We can't get a committee vote.

Seth Adler: Just take folks through because what you're talking about, obviously, is elected officials who are elected and will vote in their ... whoever they want to be speaker. Before we get there, we've got to vote for you and you guys and gals. When someone calls your office and now, I'm talking about, if you were one of these heads of committee ...

Tom Garrett: Right.

Seth Adler: ... if you were in charge of the way that bills came to the floor, how seriously do you take these calls? How seriously do you take these emails? How seriously do you take office visits? How can we affect change? Those that are listening.

Tom Garrett: The job of the legislator is to serve the citizenry.

Seth Adler: Amen.

Tom Garrett: Now, we don't have a current democracy, but we have-

Seth Adler: We don't have a?

Tom Garrett: Direct democracy. In other words, we don't have 330 million Americans casting votes on every issue that comes before congress.

Seth Adler: We do have representative democracy.

Tom Garrett: Our job is to listen. We do listen. However, you're not always going to get a rep to agree with you and everything because the reps, in a perfect world, processes information consistent with the values they articulated when they ran. The way we make progress, the way that I learned a lot of the facts that I know, particularly on the medical side is by advocates who are citizens who come in and say, "Let me tell you my story. Let me tell you about my child with intractable epilepsy. Let me tell you about my traumatic brain injury, my post-traumatic stress disorder, the intractable pain management problems that I have. Let me tell you about my experience with opioids and pharmaceuticals. Let me tell you how it differs from my experience with CBD, et cetera." There are a lot of people there and you just have to be like that drip, drip, drip that occasionally erodes away the stone who don't know these facts, right?

Seth Adler: Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Garrett: You're going to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. You don't scream and yell at people, but you look them in the eyes and say, "This is why this matters, depending upon whom you're speaking with." It might be a different angle. You might point out the disparate impacts of federal marijuana policy on various communities to one legislator. You might point out the fact that we should allow individuals the right to determine things for themselves to another. They're both true.

Seth Adler: Right. Speak to your audience.

Tom Garrett: You've got to get in front of them.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: You've got to be a passionate advocate and educator. Pardon me, but if there's a member of congress who you think needs your support because they have good policy, you need to support them. That might mean writing the check. If it's $5, that's okay, but I'll tell you this, I've had this conversation with folks in this industry and they're like, "We want to see you succeed because if you don't succeed in re-election, then other members from districts that look like yours aren't going to be bold and take the step."

Seth Adler: Right, and aren't going to speak like you're speaking.

Tom Garrett: Well, they'll be afraid to.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: Having said that, I've never been all about, what do I do to get re-elected. Because I genuinely believe that if you do what's right, you get re-elected.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Exactly.

Tom Garrett: Not a triangulation sort of bull crap thin.

Seth Adler: You bring this an interesting word choice. You bring up $5. You bring up donations. What about when I hear folks say, "It's all pay for play. It's all money. No one is going to listen to you."

Tom Garrett: Well, I'm not a great fundraiser because I tell people all the time that I'm not going to change what I believe based on a contribution. I just won't.

Seth Adler: Okay. Okay.

Tom Garrett: Having said that, if you find people who share your values, tragically, money equals message bias TV commercials, bias radio. People will try to define me as something that I'm not. That's what they do. If you don't support the people who share your values, don't be surprised when they're gone.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: It's not pay for play. I, literally, will look folks in the eyes and say ... Again, let me be clear on this interview. I'm not terribly concerned with marijuana. I'm concerned with equal justice, with equal application of law, with empowering individuals. Marijuana is an area wherein that manifest itself. I'm not sitting here pandering trying to tell people exactly what they want to hear. I'm telling people what I believe.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: The way that you get to that pay for play mindset is, you don't support the people who agree with you. They're gone.

Seth Adler: Do you see that in folks in the house, folks in the senate? Do you-

Tom Garrett: Look, man, every human being in the world is like a fingerprint. They're all different, right?

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom Garrett: I'm sort of on the no bullshit express. I'm going to look in the eyes and tell you what I believe, but other people operate differently. With us, figure out who I am is largely based on who I say, "Hey," right?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: It's crazy, right? I really aspire to be relatively predictable as it relates to where is Gary going to come down on this issue, but I'm a former military guy who voted against the National Defense Authorization Act because I want somebody to explain to me why we've never audited the DOT, right?

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: That's not anti-military. It's pro-responsibility.

Seth Adler: Just to unpack that because every time I see your name mentioned, it is former military. Talk about that. Talk about-

Tom Garrett: Well, look-

Seth Adler: I'm saying, the fact that you're able to have those two distinctions.

Tom Garrett: The women and men in uniform are amazing heroes whose names will never learn. I admire Jefferson despite his flaws. I admire Lincoln. I admire Dr. King. The latter of the two died to help this country to be better, but-

Seth Adler: Millions could argue both of them did, right? The later, Lincoln and King.

Tom Garrett: Both of them. The latter too.

Seth Adler: Oh, the latter too. Excuse me.

Tom Garrett: Actually, of the two. There's an entry. Well, yeah, Lincoln and King both died because they believe that they needed to do something to help America move towards that more perfect union status that will never achieve but then we should always be trying to achieve.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Tom Garrett: If you think about the context of history, millions of Americans have bled, sweated, and cried and died so that we can be better. Millions. The vast bulk 99.99999 will never know their names. The women and men in uniform and candidly, the ranking file women and men on law enforcement and so many other arenas, that's who they are, right?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: The guy kicking in the door is not the one I'm mad at. It's the guy that told them what door to kick in ...

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: ... and we should be mad at, but the military is full of people who are pro-liberty, pro-individual people and I'm just ... Again, man, I aspire to be simple. Look, when President Obama said, "If you have a business you didn't build and somebody else did it for you and all the people who think like me, you're mad." I didn't get mad for a moment. I stopped and thought, "What do you mean?" If you consider the fact that millions of people have given their lives for us to live in a country where you can succeed, he was right.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Tom Garrett: That's what this country is supposed to be. That we create circumstances where people who will obey the laws and seek not to harm others can achieve great things. Right now, the government is in the way and so I should advocate against that and I do and I will. If I lose my election, then I'm going to do something else.

Seth Adler: I hear you. As far as losing your election or winning your election, you mentioned, "Hey, if you've got somebody that you appreciate that's thinking along with you, vote for maybe even contribute." Give us a couple of names from both sides of the isle that are thinking like you on this issue at least.

Tom Garrett: Well, I'm going to start on my side of the isle and then I'll move across.

Seth Adler: Fine. That's okay.

Tom Garrett: Again, I was at a normal conference. You're the only republican. I said, "No, Don Young, Dana Rohrabache is a giant in this area."

Seth Adler: Absolutely spoken with him.

Tom Garrett: Or Earl Blumenauer obviously, now, is taking the place so far and then Rohrabache, Blumenauer [crosstalk 00:23:50].

Seth Adler: There you go.

Tom Garrett: Duncan Hunter is good. Thomas Massie is good. Matt Gaetz is good. Tulsi Gabbard was an original back on the other side of the isle where there's no co-sponsor. I'll tell you what, at the risk of being overly political, I look at what [inaudible 00:24:07] have recently said. It's nice to have their support, but these are Johnny come lately. I think they're politically triangulating, but a guy like Don Young-

Seth Adler: I don't disagree with that, by the way.

Tom Garrett: They are. Maybe a good politics. I always say that good politics and good policy made then everybody wins.

Seth Adler: You got it. You know it's different to announce the bill and to introduce the bill, right? Those are two different things.

Tom Garrett: Right. Finding those women and me, again, if there's value in this to you, understand that there are certain things that they have to have in order to perpetuate the argument that this is good policy. Rohrabache can do a whole hell of a lot more as a member of congress than they can as a private citizen. Again, I know I'm completely free of any constraints by virtue of where we are, but I ain't stumping for money here but you have to do it. You have to do it.

Seth Adler: Is there a way out of that? A long-term way out of that?

Tom Garrett: Yeah. Churchill said, "Of democracy, it's the worst system in the world except for all the others."

Seth Adler: Okay. Right. Exactly.

Tom Garrett: Our campaign, finance law is probably the worst system in the world except for all the others. I'm afraid of a public campaign, finance world and where the media, really, is the conveyor or purveyor of a message ...

Seth Adler: You could argue that happened this last election.

Tom Garrett: ... and if immediately ... Oh, hell yeah. If you want to talk about Russian interference, I'll tell you, it was real. I would tell you that I also didn't manifest itself on behalf of one candidate or the other. The goal of Russian interference and I've had exhaustive conversations with Latvian, Lithuanian, Astonian authorities. They've been really attacked by Russia for a generation.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Tom Garrett: It's to undermine confidence in our democracy.

Seth Adler: Absolutely.

Tom Garrett: You know what, I'll center on examples of democracy-

Seth Adler: It's to pit us against each other.

Tom Garrett: Right. Bingo. You nailed it.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Garrett: The other thing that undermines confidence in our democracy is when we have laws on the books that we enforce in some places and not others that you could be the entrepreneur of the year in Colorado and end up in a federal facility if you were in South Carolina. That's insanity.

Seth Adler: That is total insanity.

Tom Garrett: The same laws, we just not going to enforce them over here, ridiculous.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: Yeah. Find the people who share your values. Find the people who don't and educate them, advocate.

Seth Adler: If you can, right?

Tom Garrett: Well, there's an election.

Seth Adler: I'm saying, if we can educate peace sessions, fantastic. If we can't ...

Tom Garrett: Yeah. I will not attack any of my colleagues on either side of the isle in an ad hominem way.

Seth Adler: Understood.

Tom Garrett: People arrive at different conclusions for different reasons. I'm convinced that I'm in the right spot on this.

Seth Adler: Absolutely.

Tom Garrett: Again, it doesn't have anything to do ... Do I look like a guy that likes to smoke a lot of weed?

Seth Adler: Not really. The tie looks very nice, but otherwise, not so much.

Tom Garrett: No, but it's about an equal application to justice to create a circumstance where Americans know that their government is serving them, not exploiting them. Again, look around this room. Enterprising people who seek not to harm but to help others to have the opportunity to do just that in a paradigm wherein the government doesn't get in the way but facilitates good things happening.

Seth Adler: Okay. I'd love to talk to you all day, but you're a busy guy. I got three final questions for you. I'll tell you what they are. I'll ask you them in order. What's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised you in life, and on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there, but we'll get to that. First things first, what's most surprised you in cannabis? I wonder, do you have a personal, is it beyond constituent? Is it family that has brought you to this issue?

Tom Garrett: It's other people's families.

Seth Adler: Oh, okay.

Tom Garrett: We said that we need to roll out with Congresswoman Gabbard. Somebody asked the question and I looked at a mother and a child who had been impacted by epileptic seizures who played with every single pharmaceutical cocktail that could be created that never gotten the results that they've got from CBD oil. Wherein the mother still has to break the law to drive from state to state to care for her daughter, right?

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: Somebody asked me if it was about me. I said, "It's about them."

Seth Adler: There you go.

Tom Garrett: These stories are compelling. The thing is, there's a stereotype of who's interested in cannabis reform and then there's a reality. This is a mom who loves her daughter. Again, she could give a darn about cannabinoids except this person who she loves is leading a far better quality of life by virtue of something that our regulatory policy won't let our researchers research without jumping through a thousand hoops. Like so many American families has been tortured by cancer, but I don't have a personal story on that front as it relates to CBD or marijuana.

Seth Adler: Then what has most surprised you in cannabis, I guess?

Tom Garrett: Well, this is a bigger question, to answer a question bigger than what you asked. What surprised me in congress, and that is how the gatekeeper system works, right?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: The bills are numbered sequentially. Our federal dereg bill is HR1227. I haven't gotten a subcommittee hearing or a committee hearing. Meanwhile, we're passing through the full house, HR5540 or ...

Seth Adler: Whatever.

Tom Garrett: Yeah. We're in the 5,000. 1227 hadn't gotten a hearing. Again, I have no doubt that we could pass that bill tomorrow if we could get it to the floor, so that the gatekeeper apparatus, we're asked in the last panel that I was in, is there a possibility of a federal crack down? Certainly, there is. The laws are there to do it.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: I think what would happen, ironically, is if there were federal crack down, there would be almost a jail breaking congress and would actually do our jobs, which frustrates me because why should I have to come to that.

Seth Adler: Why should it come to that, yeah.

Tom Garrett: Why was there an American revolution, draconian policy enforced from a far, and then a federal crack down ...

Seth Adler: Hello.

Tom Garrett: ... after having left the barn door open for a decade would, I think, create rebellion amongst members, which needs to happen but it shouldn't be after a tragedy ensues.

Seth Adler: That's it. That's exactly right. That's what most surprised you in the house. What's most surprised you in life?

Tom Garrett: Everything that everybody told you about other people is usually wrong.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Sure.

Tom Garrett: That you need to judge every individual on their own merits. It's that Dr. King's speech, that content of character is what's important. Again, I was talking to somebody about this event and they said, there's a lot of crazy people going and all the rest. Now, these are just business people. Be the assessor of fact and the concluder for yourself. Don't let anybody else tell you what to believe. We got 41 public high schools in my district. I think I've been the 31 or 32. One of the things I always make sure to tell the young is, "The diversity that you can see is incredibly important." The diversity that you can't see between people's left and right ears is probably equally important. Be a thinker, not a learner. Analyze and then deduce based on your own values, but nobody can be pushed into a corner or a box.

Seth Adler: Nobody should be able to push into a corner or a box.

Tom Garrett: Right, should be. Everybody tries to tell you who everybody else is.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Tom Garrett: They're usually either lying on the reform.

Seth Adler: There you go. Most importantly, Congressman Garrett, on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's going to be on there.

Tom Garrett: Wow. Gosh. So many. I don't want to tell you like I got like DMX stuck in my head right now ...

Seth Adler: Okay. That's a choice.

Tom Garrett: ... but that is not soundtrack of life. I have an incredibly eclectic tasted music from classic rock to classical from country to metal to hip-hop. I just like good music. There's just some hymns that bounce around in my head. There's one called, "It is well with my soul," that has bumped on and off with my political decision making and even as a prosecutor. If you look up to him and as well with my soul, it's about analyzing everything and understanding the things might not be exactly how you wanted to be, but as long as you've done what you can do the best you can do it, you're good.

Seth Adler: Do the work and then you're fine.

Tom Garrett: Look, ultimately, we can only do our best.

Seth Adler: Right.

Tom Garrett: If we do our best and things don't go the way we want them to, you did your best, right?

Seth Adler: There you go.

Tom Garrett: That's it. I'm sorry for doing such a crappy job with that.

Seth Adler: No, that's a great answer. I'll say Amen to it. How about that?

Tom Garrett: Amen.

Seth Adler: Congressman Garrett, thank you so much.

Tom Garrett: My pleasure. Thank you all of having me, Seth.

Seth Adler: There you have, U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, very much appreciate has time, very much appreciate your time. 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.