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Ep. 404: US Congressman Darren Soto

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 404: US Congressman Darren Soto

Ep. 404: US Congressman Darren Soto

Darren Soto discusses big changes happening of late. While previous years have been difficult in terms of passing legislation, the new democratic congress brings with it a more positive outlook. The change gives legislation like the Farm Bill and STATES Act greater possibilities to pass. Darren covers the reasons why legalization is something to continue fighting for in the face of antiquated stigmas, poverty, even more harmful prescription drug alternatives.

Transcript:

Seth Adler: US Congressman Darren Soto returns. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two Ns and the word economy. First, a word from Wana Brands, and then US Congressman Darren Soto.

Audio Ad: Wanna know with Wana Brands? As far as the cannabis economy global landscape, it really is starting to feel like Colorado in 2009.
Almost every single day you read an article about a new country that is legalizing or thinking about legalizing, and so we're starting to see some widespread action in Europe, South America, just all over the globe we're really starting to see everybody open themselves up to the positive possibilities with cannabis.

Seth Adler: And we're back Congressman Soto.

Darren Soto: Thanks for having me.

Seth Adler: Yeah, absolutely. Really excited to talk to you again, because things have changed.

Darren Soto: Sure. We have a new Democratic Congress coming in. There's even been some new legislation proposed that was more in a compromised basis in this Congress, but I think we have even greater possibilities next Congress. Just to quickly summarize to get up to speed, as you may know, we sponsored in a bipartisan basis with Congressman Matt Gaetz a bill to lower the schedule to Schedule II. Certainly I don't think it should be even at Schedule II, but it's a start. Then there's been bills filed by Congressman Blumenauer and others to address the banking issues. Those were the subject of some pretty high flying debates in the Rules Committee. They unfortunately were not successful.
Soon to be Governor Polis of Colorado obviously had a big part in that. Then more recently we put forward bills to allow for the VA hospital and other hospitals to start utilizing medical cannabis for research. That bill was styled as more of a bipartisan one. That was before it was apparent that we'd have a new Congress, a new Democratic majority coming in. But I think it's safe to say next year we should have a better chance of passing many of these things in the House, and then it'll be interesting to see what the Senate does.

Seth Adler: US Congressman Darren Soto returns. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two Ns and the word economy. First, a word from Wana Brands, and then US Congressman Darren Soto.

Audio Ad: Wanna know with Wana Brands? As far as the cannabis economy global landscape, it really is starting to feel like Colorado in 2009.
Almost every single day you read an article about a new country that is legalizing or thinking about legalizing, and so we're starting to see some widespread action in Europe, South America, just all over the globe we're really starting to see everybody open themselves up to the positive possibilities with cannabis.

Seth Adler: And we're back Congressman Soto.

Darren Soto: Thanks for having me.

Seth Adler: Yeah, absolutely. Really excited to talk to you again, because things have changed.

Darren Soto: Sure. We have a new Democratic Congress coming in. There's even been some new legislation proposed that was more in a compromised basis in this Congress, but I think we have even greater possibilities next Congress. Just to quickly summarize to get up to speed, as you may know, we sponsored in a bipartisan basis with Congressman Matt Gaetz a bill to lower the schedule to Schedule II. Certainly I don't think it should be even at Schedule II, but it's a start. Then there's been bills filed by Congressman Blumenauer and others to address the banking issues. Those were the subject of some pretty high flying debates in the Rules Committee. They unfortunately were not successful.
Soon to be Governor Polis of Colorado obviously had a big part in that. Then more recently we put forward bills to allow for the VA hospital and other hospitals to start utilizing medical cannabis for research. That bill was styled as more of a bipartisan one. That was before it was apparent that we'd have a new Congress, a new Democratic majority coming in. But I think it's safe to say next year we should have a better chance of passing many of these things in the House, and then it'll be interesting to see what the Senate does.

Seth Adler: What happens up there, so to speak, right?

Darren Soto: Sure. Mount Olympus.

Seth Adler: Yeah, exactly. I want to start with veterans because I feel like we always should start with veterans, right?

Darren Soto: Of course.

Seth Adler: If they've gone ahead and gone over there and come back here, shouldn't we be helping them? At least we can allow the VA to do some research on the plant.

Darren Soto: Sure.

Seth Adler: How could anyone be against this, Congressman? In all seriousness, because obviously we haven't voted for it yet, so what are your thoughts?

Darren Soto: Let's start by why we should do it and then we'll go into why people may be against it.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Darren Soto: So why we should do it, one, it's the right thing to do and it's been well established at least by many outside sources, universities and the like, of the medical properties of cannabis. It could help with PTSD, and there's a lot of studies outside of that. This would not only help our veterans, but allow for official federal government studies that may be more persuasive to some of my colleagues who may be more reticent on the issue. So those are the reasons we should do it. The reason that there's opposition is the same antiquated taboos, stigmas out there, about cannabis that have existed in certain areas of the country and among certain other members of Congress although there are less of that will be here next year.

Seth Adler: Sure. For folks that at least kind of come at it from a reasonable approach who aren't necessarily comfortable with it, they can say, "Hey we need more research." This does exactly that.

Darren Soto: It does that, and the main argument to that is prescription drugs haven't helped us any better. In fact, it's been an opioid, fentanyl, Oxycontin epidemic that we just allocated $5 billion, and the real estimate that we needed was actually about $25 billion to address this. Obviously-

Seth Adler: So now it's costing us money.

Darren Soto: Exactly.

Seth Adler: Let alone people's wellness.

Darren Soto: Exactly, and we haven't had those types of physical addictions or side effects with cannabis. I think most of your listeners are probably aware of that already, but those are issues that we're paying for now. So if there is a better way, or potentially even a better way, we should be pursuing it and not let antiquated taboos get in the way.

Seth Adler: There we go. I feel like there should be a band named Antiquated Taboo, but that's a different story for a different time, right?

Darren Soto: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: I mean come on.

Darren Soto: I'm thinking Prog Rock, something like that.

Seth Adler: Something like that, exactly. So farm bill, podcast lend knows no time. We happen to be speaking on the day after the Senate voted for it and we're kind of just waiting for the other shoe to drop here in the House. What are your thoughts on how we're ... Is that just gonna sail through, even this House?

Darren Soto: It looks like it will. The bill that came out of the House was hugely unpopular. In fact, just enough Republicans voted against it where they could still pass it out, but no Democrat supported it. Many of the moderate Republicans voted against it, so it barely got out. The reason is, it's just hacked to pieces the Food Assistance Program, and put in work requirements that weren't gonna work in a lot of rural areas, ironically, because a lot of their members supported it.

Seth Adler: Take us into the work requirements if you would please.

Darren Soto: Sure. It was 80 hours of training a month to be able to secure food stamps, but many people live over 100 miles to 150 miles away from whatever training facility. They had no car. So you're just basically utilizing this as a way to, self select is the interesting term they're using, self select people off of the Food Assistance Program, but then people go hungry. In Florida, we have a work requirement program already, but there's waivers if you don't live near a suburban or urban area where there's transit. The other issue and the biggest one for myself was that they got rid of the waivers to allow you to go up to 200% of poverty. In Florida, we in a bipartisan fashion for years now, have supported the eligibility for SNAP to be at 200% of poverty because the real estate is so expensive, the rent is so expensive. A lot of the service wages aren't that high, and they should be higher.

Seth Adler: Unpack that for folks that might not be following.

Darren Soto: Sure, so in Florida we have an international market. You're competing against folks buying houses from all over the world, from China to England to Canada and the likes, so our housing really isn't based on the local wage like many areas of the country, it's based upon the international buying market. Then many of our folks work at Disney or Universal or Sea World or the hotels or other restaurants, and they tend not to pay as much as a lot of other types of jobs. So you have a market that is driven beyond wages with a service industry economy, to a certain extent. We have agriculture. We have tech and other things there, but to a large extent a service industry economy that folks, much of their income is coming to rent, in many instances over 50%.

Seth Adler: Which is why we gotta go to 200% so we can also find some money for food.

Darren Soto: Right, because there's many people who are at 150 to 200% of poverty who are still spending more than half their money on housing, and so Florida in a bipartisan fashion, along with many other states ... Florida over any other state would have had the most people kicked off the SNAP program, bigger than bigger states like California and Texas. So for someone like myself who serves on the Agriculture Committee and is from Florida, obviously this was a non-starter. The Senate had different plans. They had a bipartisan bill that did the things that needed to happen to help out many of our farmers from cotton to citrus to the-

Seth Adler: There's one more there Congressman.

Darren Soto: Cannabis.

Seth Adler: Well, hemp.

Darren Soto: Hemp.

Seth Adler: Right?

Darren Soto: So I'm on the bill with Comer. I don't think that that got in.

Seth Adler: No, sure. Hemp is in.

Darren Soto: It did? Okay.

Seth Adler: Oh yeah.

Darren Soto: We're still doing the review today, so that's great news then.

Seth Adler: Yeah. No hemp is definitely in.

Darren Soto: I know for Kentucky and a few other states that really are well positioned, it's important for their economies, and knowing that in a post coal, post industrial era for a lot of those areas, they need to go into new industries. So that's exciting. I'm learning something new today.

Seth Adler: There we go, exactly.

Darren Soto: We're still going through the whole bill as we speak. It's quite large.

Seth Adler: Well yeah. You have to focus on the whole bill. Let me tell you how much I'm focused on hemp in the farm bill. I'm calling the farm bill the hemp bill, right?

Darren Soto: Well if it gets us support from the Kentucky and perhaps the Tennessee delegation, then I'm all for it.

Seth Adler: Then that'll do, exactly.

Darren Soto: Of course I rattled off what was most important for my district, which was citrus issues and cattle issues, and then the Food Assistance Program, and school lunch. Obviously very important.

Seth Adler: Well there was debate, and there is kind of a 10 year waiting period for felons, former felons, to be able to work in the hemp industry.

Darren Soto: Sure.

Seth Adler: That stayed in. What are your thoughts on that?

Darren Soto: You know, I'm a big believer if you have served your time and paid your fines, you should have your rights restored automatically. So certainly that is something I disagree with overall. I plan to vote for the farm bill for many other reasons, but that's something that is unfinished business that we'll have to readdress. Particularly when you look at how marijuana laws are changing, you could have had someone who had the expertise who before a law was changed was committing a misdemeanor or a felony that now is conducting a wholly legal business.

Seth Adler: Wholly legal, right, did you said?

Darren Soto: Legal.

Seth Adler: I just want to make sure.

Darren Soto: Legal.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Darren Soto: Yeah, wholly legal business, and it'd be kind of ironic that those with expertise would be barred from it.

Seth Adler: Exactly.

Darren Soto: Especially if it was a marijuana law violation or something related to that.

Seth Adler: Precisely. All right, so there is more work to do. As far as CBD is concerned, what this bill does, and it sounds like it's passing so that's fantastic, legalizes .3% and below THC. So any industrial hemp plant, it's off of the Controlled Substances Act. Check the box, clap your hands, celebrate.

Darren Soto: And nobody get too excited for recreational purposes.

Seth Adler: Well no, no. Yeah, that's a whole different thing, but in between that-

Darren Soto: I know, just making a joke.

Seth Adler: Yeah, that's fair. I apologize. This is why, right, I cover this [crosstalk 00:11:04]

Darren Soto: It's all good.

Seth Adler: Yeah, or uncover this as I like to say. For plants that are not industrial hemp, that are more hot so to speak, is the term that they use, then .3% as far as THC. There is a separate bill, 2273, that just goes ahead and de-schedules the rest of cannabidiol, easy for me to say.

Darren Soto: Sure.

Seth Adler: It de-schedules cannabidiol, and what that means is that little kids with epilepsy can continue taking their medicine and actually it's okay, it's federally legal. Are you in support of something like that? And if you are, or if you're not, what is the feasibility of putting something like that through?

Darren Soto: Well we have more than half the states I think at this point that have legalized medical cannabis, including Florida. So I think if you take all their delegations, and knowing that at least some of them may be opposed, there really is a potential workable majority. Quite plainly I would be supportive of it. I think we have to look at this and eliminate the taboos. That's a continual theme. I try to view these issues through the lens of if this was ironically an opioid or a heroin like substance and we called it some sort of prescription drug with a fancy name, everybody would be comfortable with it even though it is probably the most addictive drug on the planet that is associated with that, in heroin.
Yet you talk, you use the words cannabis or marijuana, and suddenly people start clutching their pearls. I try to look at all these through that lens, and with this, if we're already having much more powerful addictive drugs that are available to try to help these kids, we need to have alternatives that are far less, if at all physically addictive and obviously gonna be helpful in treating these seizures that can absolutely result in brain damage and loss of motor skills and so many other deteriorating conditions.

Seth Adler: So fair enough. I'm with you, you're with me, that type of thing. Is that the type of thing that could come out of agriculture, could come out of that committee?

Darren Soto: So it could. I think there'd be also a reference to judiciary because of the criminal statutes it would have to waive, but if a purple at best state like Florida could overwhelmingly pass a medical cannabis amendment, there is quite possibly-

Seth Adler: And we talked about 71% last time, right?

Darren Soto: Yeah. Quite possibly the grounds will support, and certainly in the new Congress you're gonna see some movement in pushing the label a little bit.

Seth Adler: So new Congress, here we go. You're on the Policy Committee.

Darren Soto: Steering and Policy Committee.

Seth Adler: Steering and Policy Committee, excuse me.

Darren Soto: It's cool.

Seth Adler: It feels like it is important sir, right?

Darren Soto: We help decide the committee assignments, and then we will advise now the future speaker on messaging and policy issues. It's basically a meeting where we meet every Monday and talk about what's happening for the week. Certainly that gives me another crack at discussing these issues, and I'm not the only one on there. Steve Cohen, who is obviously a very strong advocate, is on there and is very vocal on this issue.

Seth Adler: He's very vocal generally. I'm speaking with him later today.

Darren Soto: Very vocal on all issues, but in that committee I really just have to sing from the same hymn sheet as Steve. We're getting the message out there.

Seth Adler: The message, does it include The STATES Act? You know, you mentioned 280E before. It's got banking in there too. Folks are feeling very confident within the industry that that's just gonna get passed I think magically. So when I come to you and say, "Hey, folks are excited about it," what about actually in the Steering and Policy Committee? Are we excited about The STATES Act?

Darren Soto: Sure, and I would say overall the next Congress in the House highly likely to pass a bill to allow the states to be able to bank, and depending on their laws, and not violate federal statute. What will the Senate do is the big question. It's a unique scenario because you have nine Republicans I think, or eight Republicans, somewhere around there, representing pretty blue states now after this past election. They're gonna have to make some decisions. You have the vast majority if not all the Democratic Senators, certainly haven't taken a poll of all of them, but who would be supportive. You have a president who's all over the place, so it's hard to tell or predict what he's gonna do. So I believe we could be bullish about the House, but the Senate is still gonna require some work and is not a given to pass.
I think that's, cheer on the House, and then do the hard work in the Senate to get something like that passed, among other things like the schedule reducing, lowering it on the schedule, and medical cannabis I think are all things that could pass. It would be far more difficult to pass a recreational bill out of the Senate. It might pass the House. I wouldn't doubt that.

Seth Adler: No, sure.

Darren Soto: But we have to start somewhere, and those would be big steps forward.

Seth Adler: Yeah. When we're talking about how businesses deduct, when we're talking about banking, these are things that could come out of the House. Now is the feeling that, "Yes, let's send this to the Senate," or is the feeling, "You know what, let's not even bother because they won't send?" How are we looking at it? I know it's early days yet, but.

Darren Soto: Well there haven't been discussions about this specific issue from a leadership perspective. You have some champions like Earl Blumenauer and Steve Cohen and others that are senior members that are well respected that I know are going to be pushing again in earnest, and knowing that a lot of the new members would support the issue. I think we should see at least the bills I mentioned be put forward, even if it's uncertain whether the Senate's gonna pass it, because we just believe it to be the right thing to do.

Seth Adler: Okay. All right, so we talked a little veterans, we've talked a little CBD, we talked a little business of cannabis, the money associated with it. I don't know if you've noticed a couple large companies coming into the industry.

Darren Soto: Sure, well they see the long term strategy, and even in Florida, our incoming Ag Commissioner won on weed, weapons, and water was her slogan, because the state legislature has put up so many roadblocks that are contrary to the plain language of our medical marijuana amendment. She ran on just we need to enforce it the way it is and stop putting up roadblocks. That was compelling to make her the only state-wide Democrat who won in Florida, so certainly you're gonna see this continue to be a debate both in policy and politics.

Seth Adler: Okay. How is the general feeling in Florida now? Because it was a [crosstalk 00:18:28]

Darren Soto: Mixed ag.

Seth Adler: Dynamic election.

Darren Soto: Oh my gosh.

Seth Adler: I just spoke to your friend who you worked on the oil spill stuff with, Carlos Cabello.

Darren Soto: Sure, good guy.

Seth Adler: The Senate, it took awhile, the governorship took awhile. Okay fine, that's politics. What about policy, how's the cannabis market from your perspective? I know that you're not focused on in-state, it's federal legislation that you're focused on, but.

Darren Soto: I served in the state legislature for 10 years. [crosstalk 00:18:55]

Seth Adler: Yeah, you did a decade. That's true, right?

Darren Soto: Yeah, a decade of hard time in Tallahassee in the legislature.

Seth Adler: In the minority, by the way.

Darren Soto: In the minority. This is actually the first time I'll be in the majority after 12 years, so looking forward to it.

Seth Adler: You did. You put in your time.

Darren Soto: Put in the time, and basically they're gonna have to loosen up the market a little bit, because they have these very strict vertical systems for the medical marijuana growing in licensing. I think there's 13 licenses, maybe 15 at this point, in the whole state of 21 million, the third largest state in the union.

Seth Adler: We talked about the need for nurseries.

Darren Soto: Sure, yes. You had to be a founding member of Florida and own a nursery to be eligible. That was the joke in the Senate as we debated it, but it was the real requirement is you have to have a continuous nursery license for 30 years prior to apply. I think that was to give Floridian nurseries a chance to really get on the ground floor, but obviously there was some lobbying, funny business, nothing unlawful, but just somebody knew somebody with a ... To this day, it's a mystery to all of us. I was on the floor when that amendment came up, and the majority basically said, "Hey, if we don't pass this, we're not passing anything." So we all-

Seth Adler: We'll take it.

Darren Soto: Just kind of to get something out there, and this was before the amendment passed, that this passed, along with basically the Charlotte's Web CBD strain being approved. So it's restrictive in a way that now arguably the Constitutional amendment does not prescribe or give the legislature the power to restrict it. That will be a continuing interesting battle. We've already had an initial administrative judge put a decision that the licensing scheme is unconstitutional, but it's still gonna make its way all the way up through ... He stayed that decision from being in effect, and now we'll see how the courts deal with it, but there's nothing that says the legislature shall create a limited number of licenses or any of that stuff. Usually an amendment has to direct the legislature to do some things or have some things that are unclear, and there'll be a certain number of licenses to be determined. But that's not what it says at all, so it'll be interesting how it plays out.

Seth Adler: It doesn't sound like a free market, right, for the folks that like ... Gaetz likes a free market, right?

Darren Soto: Sure. Sure, well tell him to talk to his buddies.

Seth Adler: That's it. That's it.

Darren Soto: He's good friends with our new governor, who was ... DeSantis has expressed an interest in maybe no longer fighting that lawsuit, which should be interesting to see. It's one thing to say maybe, it's another thing to actually do it.

Seth Adler: Right, that's it.

Darren Soto: Once you're there and making the deals and working on what you have to do to build your coalitions.

Seth Adler: That's, I mean, again, we're talking about spending money. Why would we spend money to go fight the lawsuit? We already heard from the voters, let's just kind of keep going here. Let's go eyes front. Let's move forward.

Darren Soto: I agree. Obviously there's still a well heeled minority of folks who have antiquated notions on this that many are in powerful positions in government and industry. So I suspect that'll continue to be our competition, but the people at an overwhelming margin have made decisions, so it's a precarious place to be in.

Seth Adler: It's precarious, and that makes me think that if we poke that bear, or just nudge a little bit, that there'd be more headway.

Darren Soto: How about we just pull that wagon a little bit more each day? Like pioneering across country.

Seth Adler: That's it. How could I do that? If I'm someone that's in Florida or just generally and I don't see whatever I voted for, and either side of the whatever, when folks say ... I think I asked you this last time, when folks call, you kind of have to field those calls, right?

Darren Soto: Sure. The calls matter, obviously for folks living in our district. Other calls we take note of, but I ... Most members around here, we take seriously those who are constituents because that is our job. We represent 800,000 people up here, so whether we get emails or calls, one of the first things that I ask is, "Where do you live?" If they live in the district obviously, we keep a tally of those. If not, we just kind of have a general sense of where it's going, but if we have a huge support one way in the district and we have all these people calling another way that don't live in the district, obviously the-

Seth Adler: Gotta focus on-

Darren Soto: The tap of the town is pretty understood already.

Seth Adler: That's it.

Darren Soto: In Tallahassee, one of the best things to do is this very difficult thing. It is so difficult. I would hate to put this burden on your viewers. It's to drive the long drive up to Tallahassee during session when there's a committee hearing that you may only get two or three days notice on, and talk in favor of your position.

Seth Adler: Because that's open to you.

Darren Soto: It is. It is. You just have to sign a little speaker card in the beginning, and they'll let you speak. If you have hundreds of people, then usually they'll say, "All right, can you select a few to speak on behalf of the many?" But most people never do that. That's why I say it's this nearly impossible so difficult thing, because people want to send emails or phone calls or letters, but the most powerful thing you could do other than getting more pro cannabis policy members elected, which is the most powerful thing, the second most powerful thing is to really-

Seth Adler: Go.

Darren Soto: Actually speak in the committee hearings, and few people do. They're usually mostly insiders and lobbyists who live around there who are talking, and nobody else. So you can make a real impact.

Seth Adler: I think what is that called again? Democracy, that's it.

Darren Soto: Yeah, well if more people participated.

Seth Adler: That's it.

Darren Soto: We'd have nice things.

Seth Adler: We'd have nice things. We can have nice things. Speaking of that, it's a strange segue but I want to take it. You're the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress from Florida.

Darren Soto: That's correct. There's 1.3 million of us nearly, biggest diaspora in the United States.

Seth Adler: I would like to check in please on Puerto Rico. Please let me know what's happening. What are you hearing? What are you saying? What are you feeling? What are you doing?

Darren Soto: So, first obviously the recovery is still slow going. Only 10 of the 20 billion we allocated for the disaster has actually gotten there so far, so there's a big fight with the Trump administration about that.

Seth Adler: What does that go through? Because that's nebulous-

Darren Soto: Multiple agencies.

Seth Adler: It is multiple agencies?

Darren Soto: FEMA is the primary one, but it could go through Small Business Administration, through HUD, through many different agencies.

Seth Adler: Who would, I wouldn't call FEMA if I'm a constituent. How do I push on that? Because we were just talking about involvement.

Darren Soto: You would call your member of Congress and tell them to-

Seth Adler: Get on it.

Darren Soto: Hold the Trump administration accountable and have them make sure that the money flows down there in a reasonable fashion. If they were a state this wouldn't happen, because they'd have several members of Congress and Senators-

Seth Adler: Loudly.

Darren Soto: Loudly standing on their desks. But they really rely on the good will of those of us of Puerto Rican descent who represent areas of the states.

Seth Adler: As a reminder, it's a US territory, just for those listening that-

Darren Soto: Yeah, of course. Yeah, it's not a state, it's a US territory.

Seth Adler: Right.

Darren Soto: So that's an issue. Then they have, the economy is still struggling down there. Then they have this fiscal board that is trying to resolve this giant debt which is six, seven times the amount of their annual budget. So there's some issues, so what we're looking to do is boost two sectors to help out the economy. One is energy, the other's agriculture. There are several areas that would be helpful. Tropical fruits and vegetables, coffee, dairy, cattle, and potentially medical cannabis as well.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Darren Soto: So there are some opportunities.

Seth Adler: Here comes a vote, so I'll get out of your way.

Darren Soto: You bet.

Seth Adler: But you do see medical cannabis as something that can help in Puerto Rico?

Darren Soto: There have been some discussions that, honestly I don't know the exact status of what their laws are, but I know that they have some medical cannabis industry there. I think it's still pretty nation [crosstalk 00:27:26]

Seth Adler: No, it is. I've heard about that. I'd be more interested to talk to you about that, you know?

Darren Soto: Sure. I'll brush up on it. I can tell you Florida's inside and out.

Seth Adler: There you go.

Darren Soto: But Puerto Rico I'd have to brush up on that a little bit.

Seth Adler: That's fine. We'll do that next time, maybe invite some friends.

Darren Soto: Sure, absolutely.

Seth Adler: Three final questions for returning guests, and thanks for doing that. What would you change about yourself if anything? What would you change about anything else if you could? On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's gotta be on there? That's always the final question. But what would you change about yourself?

Darren Soto: Well, it's the holidays, and we tend to eat a little more, so I gotta back into summer shape pretty soon.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Darren Soto: We're talking about three or four pounds either way, but.

Seth Adler: Come January we're back on the treadmill.

Darren Soto: Yep. Back in the rhythm. What was the second question?

Seth Adler: What would you change about anything else if you could?

Darren Soto: The Congress of the United States.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Darren Soto: And voila, we are changing it.

Seth Adler: So baby steps? Is that what we're saying?

Darren Soto: Changing the United States Congress to a Democratic majority is not a baby step I'd like to think. That's a big boy step and a big girl step.

Seth Adler: It's a 40 plus seats is a big deal type of thing.

Darren Soto: Yeah, biggest since Watergate.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Does that make you think of anything else?

Darren Soto: We're not gonna take that leap yet. Let's see what Mueller has to say first.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Darren Soto: Then your last question was?

Seth Adler: See how we talked about something without talking about it?

Darren Soto: Yeah, absolutely.

Seth Adler: On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's gotta be on there?

Darren Soto: You know, I was thinking about the other night because I do ... I just started doing podcasts of Rock and Politics.

Seth Adler: Okay, meaning listening to them? Or do you host one?

Darren Soto: Hosting one. I'm doing my first full one.

Seth Adler: Promote it, come on.

Darren Soto: It's gonna be on WNKQ in Kissimmee, one of our low power FM stations. It'll be on podcasts on Anchor too. But it's mostly music with a little bit of politics. It'll be one theme, like this week it was suicide prevention and we went through all these different songs. But I felt like, "What would be my favorite song?" Lately I guess it would be Mykonos by Fleet Foxes.

Seth Adler: Oh okay.

Darren Soto: Yeah.

Seth Adler: There you go.

Darren Soto: It's a just real chill song. But favorite band, Pearl Jam.

Seth Adler: I see.

Darren Soto: But it evolves. Sometimes I'm like, "Maybe it's something else. Maybe it's Pixies or something."

Seth Adler: Right. I'll have to take a listen. You are telling everybody exactly-

Darren Soto: Yeah, child of the '90s.

Seth Adler: Exactly how old you are.

Darren Soto: Exactly.

Seth Adler: The ukulele album from Eddie Vedder, did you like that?

Darren Soto: I liked it, but if I'm going ukulele, I'm going Vance Joy probably more.

Seth Adler: Wow, look at you. We have to talk about music more often.

Darren Soto: Oh, I'm thoroughly versed.

Seth Adler: This is fantastic.

Darren Soto: Amateur musician.

Seth Adler: What did ... Did we not talk about this?

Darren Soto: That'll be for next time.

Seth Adler: Yeah no, but let's just talk ... What is this? Orange Creek Riders?

Darren Soto: Yep, our local folk band from Orlando.

Seth Adler: Get out of here.

Darren Soto: Yeah, we play some festivals.

Seth Adler: What do you play, what instrument?

Darren Soto: Acoustic and write songs and do vocals.

Seth Adler: Get out of here.

Darren Soto: Since I was in middle school.

Seth Adler: Do you mind if we put this song on the outro?

Darren Soto: You bet. You bet.

Seth Adler: One of these songs?

Darren Soto: You bet.

Seth Adler: This is fantastic. Congressman Soto, we will check in with you down the line.

Darren Soto: Sounds great. Thanks.

Seth Adler: There you have US 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.