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Ep.357: US Congressman Darren Soto

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.357: US Congressman Darren Soto

Ep.357: US Congressman Darren Soto

US Congressman Darren Soto joins us and gives us his thoughts on Florida and Federal cannabis policy. He also shares how his thoughts on states rights affect more local policy, “I do believe in local rule, and certain counties and cities should have the character that they’ve traditionally had, and this may be something they feel is inconsistent with it. Others embrace it. So I get that part of it. I just worry about how different Floridians have different access to one particular type of medicine when with every other type- they’re not restricted by geography.” And also how those same thoughts might affect federal policy, “we’re in the Stone Age here in Congress, so if we even can get that done it would be a step in the right direction. But our main goal is to ratify and give legal cover to the various marijuana legal regimes throughout the United States based upon the different state laws.”

Transcript:

Congressmn Soto: Darren Soto, District Nine in central Florida, and my first pet was a lhaso apso named Penelope.

Seth Adler: Okay. And that's a dog, I think?

Congressmn Soto: Yes.

Seth Adler: All right. It's possible that I'm getting a dog and I've never owned one. So do you have any advice?

Congressmn Soto: Well they require a lot of attention, so hopefully you'll be able to be around to take care of them. If you're not going to be around a lot, get a cat.

Seth Adler: I gotcha. Fair enough. The cats, they don't care so much.

Congressmn Soto: They're loners.

Seth Adler: They're loners. All right. Let's dive in on central Florida, Orlando and Kissimmee, right?

Congressmn Soto: Kissimmee. We're going to have to pronounce that right, but yes.

Seth Adler: It's Kissimmee then?

Congressmn Soto: Yes.

Seth Adler: All right. And then Lake Buena Vista. How did I do on that?

Congressmn Soto: You did great. Good pronunciation. That's, of course, where Disney is.

Seth Adler: Right, indeed. So you're familiar with those folks. Let's dive in though on cannabis, cannabis policy in the state. First things first, we had a pretty overwhelming vote. Now it's awhile ago. How are things going?

Congressmn Soto: It has been slow going, but progress has been steady. There was first an attempt in 2014 to have a medical marijuana amendment, which ultimately did not pass but it had a good showing; came pretty close. We actually had got a better amendment on to the ballot in 2016, excuse me; 2012 and 2014, and then we started being able to do medical marijuana policy. One of the big things was at first, they just wanted to deal with Charlotte's Web, which was a version of marijuana that had cannabinoids but wasn't able to help out with, through THC, with appetite and things like that for cancer patients and other folks. So it was more just for folks with different seizures and we wanted to make it more expansive.

Congressmn Soto: Darren Soto, District Nine in central Florida, and my first pet was a lhaso apso named Penelope.

Seth Adler: Okay. And that's a dog, I think?

Congressmn Soto: Yes.

Seth Adler: All right. It's possible that I'm getting a dog and I've never owned one. So do you have any advice?

Congressmn Soto: Well they require a lot of attention, so hopefully you'll be able to be around to take care of them. If you're not going to be around a lot, get a cat.

Seth Adler: I gotcha. Fair enough. The cats, they don't care so much.

Congressmn Soto: They're loners.

Seth Adler: They're loners. All right. Let's dive in on central Florida, Orlando and Kissimmee, right?

Congressmn Soto: Kissimmee. We're going to have to pronounce that right, but yes.

Seth Adler: It's Kissimmee then?

Congressmn Soto: Yes.

Seth Adler: All right. And then Lake Buena Vista. How did I do on that?

Congressmn Soto: You did great. Good pronunciation. That's, of course, where Disney is.

Seth Adler: Right, indeed. So you're familiar with those folks. Let's dive in though on cannabis, cannabis policy in the state. First things first, we had a pretty overwhelming vote. Now it's awhile ago. How are things going?

Congressmn Soto: It has been slow going, but progress has been steady. There was first an attempt in 2014 to have a medical marijuana amendment, which ultimately did not pass but it had a good showing; came pretty close. We actually had got a better amendment on to the ballot in 2016, excuse me; 2012 and 2014, and then we started being able to do medical marijuana policy. One of the big things was at first, they just wanted to deal with Charlotte's Web, which was a version of marijuana that had cannabinoids but wasn't able to help out with, through THC, with appetite and things like that for cancer patients and other folks. So it was more just for folks with different seizures and we wanted to make it more expansive.

Seth Adler: Sure. It was not taking the whole plant into perspective, is essentially what we're saying.

Congressmn Soto: Right. And so after that, they carved up some zones and gave rights to each individual grower, which a lot of us wanted it to be more free market than that, but at least it got the ball rolling. In our area we have Grow Healthy, which is in Polk County in the district. They were awarded it for that zone. There were some weird ways you had to qualify. You had to have a nursery that was in existence for several decades.

Seth Adler: I always joked, who was the guy that had the nursery that wrote that into the law?

Congressmn Soto: I can't say that I know exactly. I was there at the time in the state Senate, but we all thought it was odd. Obviously, somebody had some good connections with someone in the leadership on that. I think that the public argument was we know these folks, they're Floridians. [crosstalk 00:04:50]

Seth Adler: ... type of agricultural.

Congressmn Soto: And we could trust that they're not a fly-by-night, new business. They've been around. But some would argue it was really just to help benefit folks who were long-time nursery growers.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Congressmn Soto: Either way, so now we finally have a rollout and different local governments have an ability to regulate whether or not they want a distribution facility in the city or county. A lot of folks in suburban areas and urban areas, as you would figure a lot of them have been open minded to having those dispensaries. You still have to have a prescription, so it's still pretty regulated. But there have been certain rural areas where people have lashed back, and so you don't have an equal access throughout the state is one of the other limitations on it. But it's interesting because I think Florida, slowly but surely, will continue to progress in their thoughts on medical marijuana and potentially other uses after that.

Seth Adler: Absolutely. You mentioned free market, and there was a little bit of craziness. John Morgan who you, I'm sure familiar with, being from Florida.

Congressmn Soto: Oh yeah. Yep, he's a friend and supporter.

Seth Adler: He went a little nuts on Twitter. Now this is more than a few months ago. As far as allowing a free market, let's just assume that that's what he meant because only John knows what John is thinking, right?

Congressmn Soto: So I think that he thought that the legislature was getting away from the spirit and intent of the amendment; that it was supposed to open it up to be like any other prescription and not this still special thing. And there was a debate among other proponents of the amendment who had worked together knowing, I guess, more of the reality of the situation than if you have to deal with the Florida legislature, it was inevitable that you were going to have to have some of these compromises. Otherwise, they'll just delay, delay, delay, and it'll be years before something rolls out.

Seth Adler: Sure. We've got to get something done. So a compromise like ... Give us an example of what you're talking about just to make sure to get something through here.

Congressmn Soto: 13 zones rather than allowing for much greater, more licenses, or just no limit whatsoever on licenses as long as you were qualified and met all the criteria was a big one.

Seth Adler: 13 geographic zones?

Congressmn Soto: 13 geographic zones was probably the big one, and then there was some concern about letting local governments have too much control over where things can go or not. But knowing and having served in the Florida legislature, I think those things would have been inevitable. And if you fight them, then the rollout takes months more or years more, and my thought is let's get a system going and then improve upon it once it's ready.

Seth Adler: I was never a big state's rights guy until basically the turn of the century, and then I kind of rethought my position on that. And so as you go down into state-county level, hey, if they don't want this in their neck of the woods, I'm kind of okay with that. Why rule with an iron fist, I guess, right?

Congressmn Soto: You know, I mean these are compromises that we're faced with that if we want to get a system going, which is now going, there's certain compromises you have to make. I have mixed feelings about it. I do believe in local rule, and certain counties and cities should have the character that they've traditionally had, and this may be something they feel is inconsistent with it. Others embrace it. So I get that part of it. I just worry about how different Floridians have different access to one particular type of medicine when every other type, they're not restricted by geography.

Seth Adler: They can go to CVS.

Congressmn Soto: No one's stopping your chain pharmacies from being in any small town and getting opioids and other things that I think are more powerful and far more dangerous.

Seth Adler: Oh, sure. And by far more dangerous, you mean dangerous, as cannabis is not dangerous.

Congressmn Soto: Yes, right, excuse me.

Seth Adler: That's fine. We're in my territory in your office, you know what I mean?

Congressmn Soto: I get it, yes. Absolutely. I wasn't suggesting it was dangerous as much as opioids are dangerous. That's all my point is.

Seth Adler: Indeed, and I was simply playing with the words. Exactly. So let's now move to the federal landscape here, and here we are, the beginning of January, the cannabis economy is excited. California, finally, is legal.

Congressmn Soto: The entire west coast.

Seth Adler: Making the entire west coast, as you just said, legal for cannabis. And then four days later, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, rescinds the Cole and Ogden memos.

Congressmn Soto: So he has been trying to take America back to a different time on many issues. This is one of them. And it was frustrating and disappointing, but also predictable because he had made many statements over the years in the Senate. So it leaves states in limbo now. We have joined together, several of us in Congress, to try to resolve it through legislation, and some interesting folks from different areas of the political spectrum are on it. So I served with Matt Gates, Congressman Gates in the Florida House. I served with his father in the Florida Senate. He is a libertarian Republican and we don't agree on a lot, but we agree on marijuana policy. And because of our friendship, we have decided to put forth, first was the bill to lower it from Schedule I down to Schedule II, and at least codifying in law what science has already well proven, which is there are medical uses and benefits to marijuana. That's not, I think, a controversial premise anymore, but the law doesn't treat it as that. It's there in Schedule I with heroin and other of the most heinous drugs you can imagine that have zero medical use.

Congressmn Soto: And that bill's got some press and look at it, but it hasn't really moved. There are some compromises we're looking to make to at least fix things. Like one, allowing for universities to continue to research; two, allowing for veterans to be able to participate in clinical trials; and then some potential financial protections to really do an end-round around the memo.

Seth Adler: And you're talking about 280-E?

Congressmn Soto: I don't memorize them by numbers.

Seth Adler: Okay. But as far as financial then, what are you talking about?

Congressmn Soto: About allowing for banking and having a safe harbor for these businesses and for these states.

Seth Adler: So there is the FinCEN memo, which was released in concert with the third Cole memo which was not rescinded. And the Treasury Secretary actually spoke to that, so that's good so that we've got at least something there, and I appreciate the fact that you're working on more.

Congressmn Soto: Sure. We don't want to be relying on memos going forward because-

Seth Adler: And that's why I'm here.

Congressmn Soto: -you can see how flimsy they are.

Seth Adler: That's why I'm here, Congressman.

Congressmn Soto: And how much difference it can make to have something in law.

Seth Adler: So we've got the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects medical cannabis.

Congressmn Soto: Sure. Congressman Blumenauer has been a real lead in out caucus along with Congressman Polis and others to really educate a lot of us.

Seth Adler: Sure. Absolutely. And McClintock-Polis, which has not been voted in but is there to protect non-medical cannabis businesses, and I know that you've supported both of those amendments.

Congressmn Soto: Sure. If a state has made marijuana legal for personal use, then I think the federal government should be respecting that.

Seth Adler: Sure. And your friend, as you call him, Matt Gates would agree.

Congressmn Soto: That's true.

Seth Adler: All right. So now let's get, getting back to him and you, this Schedule II thing. So I'm a big fan of small business, and if we rescheduled to II as opposed to deschedule cannabis, that opens up the floodgates as far as, essentially, the pharmaceutical industry to take over the cannabis industry as it is currently constituted, potentially putting out of business all of these small businesses which have risked life and limb to get where they are. Are you open to deschedule as opposed to reschedule?

Congressmn Soto: Of course, but we're in the Stone Age here in Congress, so if we even can get that done it would be a step in the right direction. But our main goal is to ratify and give legal cover to the various marijuana legal regimes throughout the United States based upon the different state laws. So that was just trying to get something going. Certainly, it isn't the end-all, be-all of policy. So we'd be open-minded to that and certainly we want each state to have its own character based on what the people have voted on.

Seth Adler: Each state have its own character. You are Puerto Rican.

Congressmn Soto: That's true. Of Puerto Rican descent.

Seth Adler: Of Puerto Rican descent. How are things going in Puerto Rico?

Congressmn Soto: Been very difficult. Obviously, we got hit by Hurricane Maria and we're still dealing with the longest blackout in American history.

Seth Adler: Now the lights were back on as far as I heard, something maybe ...

Congressmn Soto: So there's still 10 to 15 percent of the island that still doesn't have lights on.

Seth Adler: Okay, okay.

Congressmn Soto: And for awhile it was 50-plus percent for over 100 days. Can you imagine ...

Seth Adler: No, I cannot imagine. I literally cannot imagine.

Congressmn Soto: ... in any state not having your power for over 100 days after a storm? So it's been tough, and since they're not a state and they don't have equal representation, they rely on the goodwill of those of us who have a strong connection to the island. My district in central Florida, there are many of us of Puerto Rican descent -- Floridaricans, as we refer to ourselves -- and so we've been doing our best to help out.

Seth Adler: You said that's the longest blackout in American history, did you say?

Congressmn Soto: By far.

Seth Adler: And explain the relationship. You did mention it's not a state, it is a territory. There have been votes to bring it into statehood, and some of Puerto Rico agrees and some of Puerto Rico does not.

Congressmn Soto: Well, the last one was 97 percent in favor of statehood.

Seth Adler: Oh, it was that high? But then there was the turnout thing, is why mind thinks the way that I think, right?

Congressmn Soto: If turnout was an issue, half of Congress wouldn't be here right now. We have elections, right?

Seth Adler: We do have elections, and elections have consequences. So 97 percent, take us through how viable ... And I understand you're from Florida, not Puerto Rico; you're simply of Puerto Rican descent. But as you said, you support, your district is a strong supporter. Where are we with that whole thing, and how can we do what we need to do to get Puerto Rico the help that it needs when something like this happens is essentially what I'm asking?

Congressmn Soto: Right now, it's as I said, by the help of allies to get it done. They had $80 billion worth of damage, we've been able to get $15 billion to date, so you can do the math about how much need is still out there to rebuild the grid, for healthcare, for food stamps and ag programs to get folks back up and running, and because the government is near insolvency, to help keep them running.

Congressmn Soto: The process for statehood is actually pretty simple. It just takes an act of Congress. It doesn't even take an election under our constitution, but there's a lot of things that territories have done to be persuasive to become a state throughout our nation's history. Most of them, I believe all of them have had elections even though it's not required. Some of them afterwards have just sent their delegation up and said recognize us -- that's known as the Tennessee Plan -- and there's isn't a lot of movement right now unfortunately. But I think you have some support from both sides of the aisle, particularly because we see that the current situation is not working.

Congressmn Soto: There's 3.3 million people living in Puerto Rico, so it is literally seven to eight to 10 times the size population-wise, of the next biggest territory, and it's bigger than more than a dozen states. Probably maybe significantly more than that because we have a lot of states at a million, at 600,000, at two million. So you get an idea it's a difficult spot to be in. But right now, there's no real movement in Congress. I guess we'll see if there are opportunities that arise.

Seth Adler: Okay. So as far as movement in Congress is concerned, getting us back to cannabis, what is viable? Because when I sat down with Jim Cole after his memos were rescinded, he said, "Even when I wrote the memos, the better thing that could have happened would be for Congress to act." What can we expect within reality for Congress to act on in your opinion?

Congressmn Soto: I think the financial issues are probably the first and foremost, just to make sure that businesses can go about conducting business like any other business in the United States. And then I think some are fixed to acknowledged that federal law will not trump state law in states that have already made their determination. Believe me, I'd want a lot more than that, but let's talk about what realistically could happen. And then a few of the smaller issues that I talked about -- letting universities continue to research -- I think it's critical that our veterans, particularly those with PTSD, are at least able to participate in clinical trials and be part of this as well. Those are not as system-wide but they're still important. I'm sure there's others that are out there. This is a big Congress; 435 members, so there's plenty of different plans going on. But we're facing ... Washington took a very conservative, somewhat anti-American, excuse me, anti-marijuana turn in this last election.

Seth Adler: Oh, without question.

Congressmn Soto: And so we're dealing in a situation where we're begging for basic things that were at least given through memos and regulations even if they weren't passed into law over the last couple of years.

Seth Adler: Well that's the interesting thing because you said this last election, but the only guy that seems to truly be in the way here was not elected, right? He was appointed to the be the Attorney General.

Congressmn Soto: Yeah, I don't look at it that way. The buck always stops with the President.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Congressmn Soto: This is an appointee. So if that is not his [crosstalk 00:19:46] President Trump's policy then he removes him and picks somebody else.

Seth Adler: There we go. He's spoken about removing him, but not necessarily regarding cannabis.

Congressmn Soto: Right. That has to do with recusal from the Russia investigation.

Seth Adler: Indeed, yes.

Congressmn Soto: So the President says a lot of things, but at this point in Washington all we can do is define him by his actions because otherwise it's just the continual verbal chaos that we see every day around here.

Seth Adler: Absolutely. What are your thoughts on the tariffs that he's talking about?

Congressmn Soto: You know, I have mixed feelings on them. I do empathize with some of the steel mills and aluminum mills in the Midwest, and I do think there's ways we could protect them, but I worry about starting a trade war over it.

Seth Adler: Which seems inevitable.

Congressmn Soto: This was the unique thing about Trump in the campaign that was different than any other Republican before him, is he took a page from Bernie's book and went left of Hillary on trade even though no other rank and file Republican outside of maybe one that represents a steel mill would be with him. And in fact, you're already seeing pushback by Congress about it. His top national economic advisor, Cohen, is leaving now because of it. Because we haven't had a big inflationary run since the '70s, so a lot of people don't remember that.

Congressmn Soto: So I think we need to have some strong actions, but I wouldn't say tariffs are the way as much as maybe anti-dumping, maybe ... And then focusing on those who are doing the problem, not just broad brush. Our biggest importer of steel is Canada, and then you have Mexico and England. Those are our allies. Those are the good countries. We don't want to hurt our allies when we have international terror going on and so many other things that we need people's help for.

Seth Adler: What's nice here is that you sound kind of like ... Speaker Ryan was naming these same bullets.

Congressmn Soto: But he wouldn't do anything, though. I think you still have to bring anti-dumping cases. I think you could put in maybe some quotas where you get above that and ... I mean, we do that with a lot of different agricultural products and other products. But if China and Russia are the problems, then if we're going to have a tariff, at the very least just put it on them. Don't put it on our allies who ... We actually have a trade surplus with Canada. We have a trade deficit with Mexico that has been talked about quite a bit.

Seth Adler: We've heard. Exactly.

Congressmn Soto: But we actually have a trade surplus with Canada. We don't want to mess with a good thing.

Seth Adler: So as far as tariffs, start low and go slow.

Congressmn Soto: Well, I would say focus on the problems, not our allies, and more of it is in quotas and anti-dumping laws that are already on the books in a lot of these trade agreements.

Seth Adler: Let's just make sure that we understand, why did you do this to yourself? Why did you run for Congress? Why are you ... As you mentioned, you were in the House, the Senate in Florida. It's thankless in some ways I would imagine, Darren, yes?

Congressmn Soto: No.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Congressmn Soto: No, I'm an eternal optimist and I have a lot of patience, and I had no expectation that this would be an easy job. I wanted a difficult job to make a difference. And just like Teddy Roosevelt said about getting into the arena and knowing the greatness of victory and of defeat, that's something that you have to, through whatever style you may have, you have to want that to be here.

Congressmn Soto: And it's not like you accidentally get into Congress. It's almost impossible to get here unless, especially if you're someone like me who's not rich or famous. You work your way up through the state House, through the state Senate. You build a reputation, you get things done and you move onto Congress or some other position if you can do good to help with the quality of life of folks in my district. So I'm thrilled to be here, and just like an NFL player doesn't complain about being hit, I'm here to take all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and push on ahead to make sure that we can have a country that I think represents the values of our district and of Americans across the nation.

Seth Adler: Great. As far as what drives you, I understand you're here to help people and that makes sense to me, certainly. I appreciate you are serving the country, so I appreciate that as an American. What drives you in particular?

Congressmn Soto: I always practiced law, and we have a citizens legislature so I had my law practice up until December of 2016. So I wanted to be a lawyer that wrote laws. I'm a big student of history and there are certain things you see repeating itself that we need to fix. A rise in hate again in the nation is something that is deeply frightening right now when we had a span of eight years of progress and equality for so many different groups in this nation, and that's something that concerns me. There was an expansion in-

Seth Adler: What about the fact that maybe that's what metastasized the hate?

Congressmn Soto: Oh, without question. No civil rights movement doesn't have the ugly head of hatred rearing itself afterwards. We see that, but it didn't have to happen. And there was economic anxieties that came into it, particularly in the Midwest, of it wasn't about whether they agreed with some of the more terrible comments of Trump to the various minority groups as much as there was an economic uncertainty, and we're seeing whether that's going to play out now with the tariffs.

Seth Adler: Well, what can we do as far as jobs are concerned? What are some basic things that we've got to be doing?

Congressmn Soto: Research and access to education are two big ones. Whether it is National Science Foundation, whether it's National Institute of Health, our investment research yields huge dividends, NASA. We are the greatest country in the world because we create the best new, cutting edge technology. So we need to stimulate innovation, and we also need greater access to affordable higher education so that we can continue the pipeline of American talent to be able to fill a lot of these jobs, particularly in STEM areas, whether it is in defense contractors, whether it's in our space contractors over in the Cape, which is right by our district; whether it is Silicon Valley, we have to import so many engineers and computer science, computer programmers because we are not filling the need. And all those jobs, those are the high paying jobs of the future, and it would help to have more Americans go into them. So I think those two things are critical, and an infrastructure package would be very helpful.

Seth Adler: Where are we going to get the money from?

Congressmn Soto: Oh, the Republicans spent all the money on their GOP tax plan. You know that already. So that's why-

Seth Adler: No, what I'm saying is, as far as infrastructure is concerned, that does make it more difficult now, right?

Congressmn Soto: Oh, without question, and I'm not joking. And I say it in half jest, but the tax plan, there were no sacrifices of increasing revenue here or there to balance it out. It was just simply $1.5 trillion charged to the national debt, and that is why there is no serious push by the President now to do the infrastructure plan he promised America.

Seth Adler: Would you even even push for it now knowing that it would punch a further hole in the already gargantuan debt?

Congressmn Soto: The Senate Democrats put out a plan today that would roll back the corporate tax cuts from 21 to 25 percent.

Seth Adler: It's conservative, essentially.

Congressmn Soto: Well, we were for lowering the corporate tax rate; just not to 21 percent. We thought that was excessive. We're seeing all these share buybacks. The biggest windfall is to shareholders whose stocks are going up and up and up. They throw a few bonuses to people, but what you can get back in the cut to Medicare and Social Security, because with pay-go you have to cut once you have a deficit, so we could see cuts to major middle class programs.

Congressmn Soto: We would roll that back. We'd restore the top rate on the top one percent of earners, so those of you who make over $450,000, yes, this would apply to you. But for the 99 percent of other Americans, you would be covered still and okay, and we would use that to come up with the $1 trillion infrastructure package that America was promised. And I alluded to it a little bit, but this $1.5 trillion is going to require some cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Those are middle class programs that people buy into, but that's 70 percent of the budget between Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid. And under pay-go, if you have a deficit you have to cut. There are automatic cuts, and one of the fancy-dancy tricks of this reform was to have it apply starting in '18 so that the cuts wouldn't have to come until '19, after the election.

Seth Adler: Right, after the midterms.

Congressmn Soto: Which is so sinister. But I had a town hall the other night with seniors. A lot of them got it. And you have folks like an AARP and others that are sounding the alarms that this doesn't come for free. So there would have to be some sacrifices made, and rolling back some of those tax cuts, which are all pretty much ... 83 percent is going to the top 10 percent to top one percent.

Seth Adler: It's amazing. There's video of Steve Cohen -- you mentioned him earlier -- at it seems like a conference when they were considering it. He asked for a show of hands, it was a roomful of CEOs, how many of you are going to put that money to work as far as wages and as far as hiring and all of that, and not too many hands went up. And he said, "Why aren't there more hands going up?" As though he literally ...

Congressmn Soto: I think he's too savvy to really believe that was going to happen.

Seth Adler: He's a Goldman Sachs guy. But he literally, he was surprised.

Congressmn Soto: Or corporate culture is nearsighted and short thinking right now. It's all about the next quarterly report. It's all about getting-

Seth Adler: As you know and as you've kind of alluded to, you have to take whoever it is for whatever they're doing, that they've got to report quarterly. You know what I mean?

Congressmn Soto: But there are, it's hurting the long-term prospects of America.

Seth Adler: Of course it is.

Congressmn Soto: And so some folks like Warren Buffett and others have said we're looking to more long-term viability companies because if you don't have the next product out that you're investing in for 10 years from now, you're going to go the way of Kodak and Tower Records. You've got to constantly-

Seth Adler: Ah, Tower Records. You're hitting me where it hurts, man.

Congressmn Soto: Sorry, man. I used to love buying CDs there and now I buy iTunes and things like that.

Seth Adler: Well let's get to that. I've got the three final questions for you. I'll tell you what they are, and I'll ask you them in order. What's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised you in life? And then on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there? First things first, though. What's most surprised you in cannabis?

Congressmn Soto: The amount of support among the general population in Florida for legalization. It's in the high 50's, low 60's, depending on the poll. It continues to poll well above 50 percent. Of course, you need 60 percent in Florida to pass amendments. And that there are multiple folks on both sides of the aisle, predominantly Democrats but more than, a surprising amount of Republicans who also are supportive of it. I guess when people are asked in their heart of hearts and they don't have to say it publicly with their name attached to it, they'd say how they would truly vote in the ballot box. So that's been surprising in Florida, which tends to be a right-of-center state. You next question was?

Seth Adler: What's most surprised you in life?

Congressmn Soto: That the world has great opportunities and you could seize them and be successful. I never thought, even as recently as when I passed the bar in Florida, that I would be running for office let alone sitting here in the Longworth Building in Congress talking to you right now.

Seth Adler: There we go. Here we are on the couch. On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got be on there.

Congressmn Soto: State of Love and Trust by Pearl Jam.

Seth Adler: Look at you.

Congressmn Soto: Obscure cut. Come on, you can't go with the hits. That's what everybody's heard.

Seth Adler: That said, which album is that on?

Congressmn Soto: That's on the Singles album. See, I'm a teenager in the '90s, so ...

Seth Adler: I gotcha. I have that album, too. There's a great Jimi Hendrix song on that.

Congressmn Soto: There is, Waterfalls. Classic.

Seth Adler: There we go. Look at you. Congressman Soto, thank you so much. We'll see you down the line.

Congressmn Soto: Thanks for having us.

Seth Adler: And there you have U.S. Congressman Darren Soto. Very much appreciate his 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.