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Ep. 416: US Congressman Thomas Massie

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 416: US Congressman Thomas Massie

Ep. 416: US Congressman Thomas Massie

Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky explains his unique views on cannabis and hemp. His appreciation of the plant stems from the need for a tobacco-alternative cash crop in Kentucky and surrounding agricultural areas, and extends to other aspects of states rights and personal freedom. Massie doesn’t vote based on pure party loyalty, but rather goes by his values and those of the people who elected him. For him, this means considering constitutionality, affordability, and state vs. federal responsibility in all issues, including cannabis.

Transcript:

Seth: US Congressman Thomas Massie joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy, I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on cannacademy.com, that's two Ns, and the word economy or wherever you get your podcasts. First, a word from Wana Brands, and then US Congressman Thomas Massie.
Want to Know with Wana Brands. Nancy, you've spoken about ratios in the past.

Nancy: Yes.

Seth: What about one-to-one?

Nancy: We really love our one-to-one products. We have a one to one capsule and we have a one-to-one gummy that we just released fairly recently. First of all it's delicious. It's a strawberry lemonade, but it has just taken off like a rocket and I think what people really love is the pain relief, and the calming nature of the CBD in combination with the THC.

Seth: Congressman Thomas Massie. Do you do prefer Thomas, do for Congressman Massie, do you prefer Tom?

Thomas: I go by Thomas.

Seth: Thomas.

Thomas: Does that sound okay?

Seth: It sounds perfect.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: I mean, how does it sound to you?

Thomas: Sounds like I'm in my bathroom over there.

Seth: Well you know, these are high ceilings here in, where are we, Rayburn?

Thomas: Well it's a high [inaudible 00:01:03] place.

Seth: Yeah, this is congress.

Thomas: So we need high ceilings.

Seth: This is the United States Congress, which is currently shut down by the way, have you noticed?

Thomas: A lot of people haven't noticed that. By the way, when you first get here-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: The ceilings are so high, and there's marble and mahogany and granite and you just pinch yourself and say, "How did I get here?"

Seth: Right.

Thomas: And then after about six months and you've met all your colleagues and you look around and say, "How did they get here?"

Seth: Yeah, there you go. I kind of now understand why I am here.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: How I am here. Let's talk about cannabis before we forget to.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: Right, because-

Thomas: I have some on my wall over there.

Seth: There it is. It's hemp is what you're talking about.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: That fantastic. Kentucky, you guys do hemp.

Thomas: Yes we do-

Seth: So does it start there as far as your appreciation for the plant and the reason that you would be interested in anything that became law, as far as cannabis?

Thomas: Yeah, in Kentucky it's rope, not dope.

Seth: Gotcha. Yeah. Fair enough.

Thomas: But it's really interesting. We had an ag commissioner who wanted statewide race, and the thing that differentiated him from the other candidate was he was pro hemp.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Thomas: Now, you would think in the bible belt in Kentucky that could hurt you, but in fact, most of the older people could remember when hemp was grown on their farms.

Seth: From kind of WWII-

Thomas: WWII, yeah.

Seth: Hemp for Victory, that all that stuff.

Thomas: So Kentucky, I believe was the biggest producer, the biggest state that produced hemp back in those days.

Seth: Indeed, so it was almost a returned to-

Thomas: Right.

Seth: What we used to be.

Thomas: And with tobacco going out as a cash crop-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: People used to make their mortgage payments on their farm with tobacco and that's not the case anymore.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: So they're looking for an alternative crop, and so this was one of the first things I did when I got to congress was to sponsor the Industrial Hemp Bill, which became an amendment to the farm bill in 2013, 2014 which became law.

Seth: Indeed.

Thomas: And now there are thousands of acres of hemp being grown in Kentucky.

Seth: There's one thing that happened that I'm sure that you're a fan of. Hemp, industrial hemp is no longer part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. That's what the farm bill and the hemp legislation specifically-

Thomas: Yes.

Seth: That's what happened, right?

Thomas: Right. That's the new farm bill makes it even broader a path for hemp to be successful.

Seth: But you voted no.

Thomas: I voted no on that farm bill, that's right.

Seth: And here's the reason why.

Thomas: But I'm yes for hemp.

Seth: Yeah. Gotcha.

Thomas: These bills are 1000 pages long.

Seth: Well that's the whole thing.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Just so that we get a sense of your mindset, what were maybe some other things that you weren't so crazy about, even if you were 100% for hemp?

Thomas: Oh, we'd be here all day-

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: If we listed all the things in the Farm Bill I'm not crazy about.

Seth: That's fine.

Thomas: But I did vote for it in 2014, because it had the provision that was my provision in it. And I felt it would be disingenuous to get a provision in a bill-

Seth: And then voted against it.

Thomas: And then vote against it. Now, this farm bill, of course that provision that was in there is a derivative of something that I worked on but-

Seth: Far enough away that you felt comfortable.

Thomas: Yeah, somebody else wanted credit for it, and I was okay with letting them have credit.

Seth: And then there you go-

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: You can vote no. Also, You don't mind supporting our veterans.

Thomas: Absolutely not, yeah.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: Yeah, right.

Seth: I mean, this is something that is ... I don't understand this. I've spoken with Paul Rieckhoff who runs the IAVA. I don't understand how we can send veterans and then not support them. Right?

Thomas: Right.

Seth: So whatever we're doing with the money, if they're going there, we got to support them here. So, how is this a problem? How is supporting veterans, a thing that you and I have to discuss here in 2019?

Thomas: I don't think it should be a problem. Hopefully, it won't be.

Seth: Right. That, okay, that's succinct.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: I thought maybe you were gonna continue.

Thomas: No, no.

Seth: But when you speak to colleagues-

Thomas: I often confuse people that interview me because I answered the question and shut up.

Seth: Yeah, exactly, stop talking.

Thomas: And I wait for the next question.

Seth: But what is it? How is the VA ... The reason I'm asking you specifically about these things is because the VA is part of our federal government, and I know that you're not really so thrilled with spending money.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: From the federal government's perspective, but when it comes to the veterans, you do have a different perspective. And so if we can get you to spend money on veterans, why can't we get everyone else to spend money, aren't we all patriots here in the United States of America?

Thomas: I would hope so. And I think if you recognize the full cost and absorbed it in the federal government, and the taxpayer absorb it, of all of the foreign wars and interventions that we're still involved in, if we truly took care of our veterans the cost of war would be two or three times greater than it is right now. And hopefully, there would be fewer wars.

Seth: US Congressman Thomas Massie joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy, I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on cannacademy.com, that's two Ns, and the word economy or wherever you get your podcasts. First, a word from Wana Brands, and then US Congressman Thomas Massie.
Want to Know with Wana Brands. Nancy, you've spoken about ratios in the past.

Nancy: Yes.

Seth: What about one-to-one?

Nancy: We really love our one-to-one products. We have a one to one capsule and we have a one-to-one gummy that we just released fairly recently. First of all it's delicious. It's a strawberry lemonade, but it has just taken off like a rocket and I think what people really love is the pain relief, and the calming nature of the CBD in combination with the THC.

Seth: Congressman Thomas Massie. Do you do prefer Thomas, do for Congressman Massie, do you prefer Tom?

Thomas: I go by Thomas.

Seth: Thomas.

Thomas: Does that sound okay?

Seth: It sounds perfect.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: I mean, how does it sound to you?

Thomas: Sounds like I'm in my bathroom over there.

Seth: Well you know, these are high ceilings here in, where are we, Rayburn?

Thomas: Well it's a high [inaudible 00:01:03] place.

Seth: Yeah, this is congress.

Thomas: So we need high ceilings.

Seth: This is the United States Congress, which is currently shut down by the way, have you noticed?

Thomas: A lot of people haven't noticed that. By the way, when you first get here-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: The ceilings are so high, and there's marble and mahogany and granite and you just pinch yourself and say, "How did I get here?"

Seth: Right.

Thomas: And then after about six months and you've met all your colleagues and you look around and say, "How did they get here?"

Seth: Yeah, there you go. I kind of now understand why I am here.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: How I am here. Let's talk about cannabis before we forget to.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: Right, because-

Thomas: I have some on my wall over there.

Seth: There it is. It's hemp is what you're talking about.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: That fantastic. Kentucky, you guys do hemp.

Thomas: Yes we do-

Seth: So does it start there as far as your appreciation for the plant and the reason that you would be interested in anything that became law, as far as cannabis?

Thomas: Yeah, in Kentucky it's rope, not dope.

Seth: Gotcha. Yeah. Fair enough.

Thomas: But it's really interesting. We had an ag commissioner who wanted statewide race, and the thing that differentiated him from the other candidate was he was pro hemp.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Thomas: Now, you would think in the bible belt in Kentucky that could hurt you, but in fact, most of the older people could remember when hemp was grown on their farms.

Seth: From kind of WWII-

Thomas: WWII, yeah.

Seth: Hemp for Victory, that all that stuff.

Thomas: So Kentucky, I believe was the biggest producer, the biggest state that produced hemp back in those days.

Seth: Indeed, so it was almost a returned to-

Thomas: Right.

Seth: What we used to be.

Thomas: And with tobacco going out as a cash crop-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: People used to make their mortgage payments on their farm with tobacco and that's not the case anymore.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: So they're looking for an alternative crop, and so this was one of the first things I did when I got to congress was to sponsor the Industrial Hemp Bill, which became an amendment to the farm bill in 2013, 2014 which became law.

Seth: Indeed.

Thomas: And now there are thousands of acres of hemp being grown in Kentucky.

Seth: There's one thing that happened that I'm sure that you're a fan of. Hemp, industrial hemp is no longer part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. That's what the farm bill and the hemp legislation specifically-

Thomas: Yes.

Seth: That's what happened, right?

Thomas: Right. That's the new farm bill makes it even broader a path for hemp to be successful.

Seth: But you voted no.

Thomas: I voted no on that farm bill, that's right.

Seth: And here's the reason why.

Thomas: But I'm yes for hemp.

Seth: Yeah. Gotcha.

Thomas: These bills are 1000 pages long.

Seth: Well that's the whole thing.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Just so that we get a sense of your mindset, what were maybe some other things that you weren't so crazy about, even if you were 100% for hemp?

Thomas: Oh, we'd be here all day-

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: If we listed all the things in the Farm Bill I'm not crazy about.

Seth: That's fine.

Thomas: But I did vote for it in 2014, because it had the provision that was my provision in it. And I felt it would be disingenuous to get a provision in a bill-

Seth: And then voted against it.

Thomas: And then vote against it. Now, this farm bill, of course that provision that was in there is a derivative of something that I worked on but-

Seth: Far enough away that you felt comfortable.

Thomas: Yeah, somebody else wanted credit for it, and I was okay with letting them have credit.

Seth: And then there you go-

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: You can vote no. Also, You don't mind supporting our veterans.

Thomas: Absolutely not, yeah.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: Yeah, right.

Seth: I mean, this is something that is ... I don't understand this. I've spoken with Paul Rieckhoff who runs the IAVA. I don't understand how we can send veterans and then not support them. Right?

Thomas: Right.

Seth: So whatever we're doing with the money, if they're going there, we got to support them here. So, how is this a problem? How is supporting veterans, a thing that you and I have to discuss here in 2019?

Thomas: I don't think it should be a problem. Hopefully, it won't be.

Seth: Right. That, okay, that's succinct.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: I thought maybe you were gonna continue.

Thomas: No, no.

Seth: But when you speak to colleagues-

Thomas: I often confuse people that interview me because I answered the question and shut up.

Seth: Yeah, exactly, stop talking.

Thomas: And I wait for the next question.

Seth: But what is it? How is the VA ... The reason I'm asking you specifically about these things is because the VA is part of our federal government, and I know that you're not really so thrilled with spending money.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: From the federal government's perspective, but when it comes to the veterans, you do have a different perspective. And so if we can get you to spend money on veterans, why can't we get everyone else to spend money, aren't we all patriots here in the United States of America?

Thomas: I would hope so. And I think if you recognize the full cost and absorbed it in the federal government, and the taxpayer absorb it, of all of the foreign wars and interventions that we're still involved in, if we truly took care of our veterans the cost of war would be two or three times greater than it is right now. And hopefully, there would be fewer wars. So, that's another way that I-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: Back in to voting for the bills that support veterans. By the way, we had, getting back to cannabis-

Seth: Please.

Thomas: And veterans. We've had bills on the floor that I've voted for. These are minor successes on this front. So they're worth noting because mostly that's what we've had are minor success.

Seth: Indeed.

Thomas: But, we've had successful bills on the floor that would allow a doctor who works at the VA not to lose his medical license merely for prescribing medical marijuana for a veteran. And that is one of the areas where this cannabis issue gets national. Because for the most part, my position, and this reflects the position of my constituents in Kentucky, is to leave it up to the states. And I think that's the way to go about it. Now, some people would like to have a bill here in congress that makes it legal everywhere, even in the states where they don't want it to be legal.

Seth: Okay. You and I were talking about Senator Gardener before we started with the microphones and all that.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: The State's Act, I just want to make sure that you and I are on the same page, simply states in the State's Act.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: That anyone who is abiding by state law, the Controlled Substances Act no longer applies.

Thomas: Correct.

Seth: To that person.

Thomas: Correct.

Seth: So, if you're not doing anything in your state with cannabis, then the law does nothing.

Thomas: Correct.

Seth: Which is something I would imagine you can support or no?

Thomas: I support letting states decide, I support letting states make the laws on this. And there are places where the federal government will be involved, where there are federal laws like possession of a firearm. And I hope we can get to that later.

Seth: Let's just do it right now, sir.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: Because this is big.

Thomas: I'm working on a bill that would take the question off of the 4473, that's the form that you fill out every time you buy a gun. Believe it or not, there are background checks at gun stores when you go there. And you have to, if you use marijuana, you're basically perjuring yourself.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: Because you're signing a federal document that says you don't use marijuana.

Seth: Oh.

Thomas: In order to buy that guy. And then, even if you didn't fill out that form, let's say your cousin Vinny gave you a firearm, right.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: If you use marijuana, it's illegal for you to possess that firearm. Don't shoot the messenger. I'm not saying that's the way it should.

Seth: It's just odd phrasing, considering the conversation we're having, but fair enough.

Thomas: That's the way it is.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: In the 4473, the ATF added to it just a few years ago in bold print. By the way, even if marijuana is legal in your state-

Seth: Oh, wait a second.

Thomas: You are committing a crime if you buy this gun.

Seth: How can they even do that?

Thomas: Because we've got this web of so many laws.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: And they're just merely enforcing the law that's on the book with respect to fire arms. So, here's what I've proposed.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: I've got a bill. Take that question off the form-

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: And change the underlying law, so that cannabis use does not disqualify you from owning or carrying a gun, or even ammunition. Do you realize it's illegal for you to possess ammunition.

Seth: I can't just be carrying bullets right now is what you're saying.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: Well, I didn't say you were a cannabis user.

Seth: Neither did I.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: Yeah, there we go. Okay, so this is really interesting. Because essentially your point here is, I just don't want people to have to lie if they're in that situation.

Thomas: I suspect there're about 10 million people. It's my round guess.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: That are felons because of the existing statutes and the confliction between state laws and federal laws on this issue. But the feds are very clear, you are a felon. And so, why don't we clean this up? And yeah, if we could just leave it up to the states and not make this a federal crime to use marijuana, then that would fix it. But short of that, let's fix this issue with the guns and even if we fix the issue with cannabis legalization, this is still another issue-

Seth: That ATF-

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Absolutely.

Thomas: That's still going to be on the books.

Seth: Right, yeah. Then so that does not make sense if ... State law should be the law of that state.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: There shouldn't be anything else then intercedes, right.

Thomas: So you mentioned Corey Gardener. Take a state like Colorado-

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: I imagine probably 30% of the felons that are gun toters and marijuana-

Seth: And you're saying felons in quotation marks.

Thomas: I am putting felons in quotes.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: They are not convicted.

Seth: Indeed. You're talking about my friends is what you're ... Really, literally.

Thomas: Un-indicted co-conspirators.

Seth: Indeed.

Thomas: Co-consumers, whatever.

Seth: So when I kind of did some reading on you, it's basically let's just be as straightforward and plain as possible. That's how I understand your point of view. So with the concealed firearm legislation, you were the only person to vote against it, right?

Thomas: Which?

Seth: One of three, I think. Which one-

Thomas: That could describe anyone of several hundred bills.

Seth: Yeah. That's fair.

Thomas: If I was one of three that was no.

Seth: That's fair.

Thomas: Sometimes I'm the only no.

Seth: So, let's talk about that perspective. When you are voting no.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: You're reading the bill-

Thomas: Yes.

Seth: And then you're saying, "Okay, this doesn't work for me for these reasons." So explain what you being a libertarian means, please.

Thomas: I have got a three way test for bills.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: Number one, is it constitutional? Number two, and by the way, I don't think the existing cannabis laws are constitutional.

Seth: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, not constitutional because?

Thomas: There's nowhere in the constitution where we are given the authority to regulate a plant. Okay, in fact, when they sought to outlaw alcohol at the federal level, they knew at the time they needed a constitutional amendment to do that. And then when they wanted to make it legal again they had another constitutional amendment-

Seth: Interesting.

Thomas: To undo it.

Seth: Oh wait.

Thomas: Yeah. Look at that elephant in the room that we haven't been paying attention to.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: So, my first test, is it constitutional? My second test is, can we afford it?

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: Now, legalizing cannabis is ... I haven't seen a CVO score on it, but I don't think it's going to add to the debt.

Seth: Not unless we subsidize the farmers.

Thomas: And that'll be the next thing. And then you'll know we've arrived when there are subsidies for cannabis farmers, and then I have people in my office trying to outlaw genetically modified cannabis, right.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: Then you'll know we're there-

Seth: Then we're there. Exactly.

Thomas: And then the FDA is going to come in and define what organic cannabis means. That's when we've arrived, when the federal government, all of its tentacles are fully in it, and there's some kind of tax.

Seth: For the plant.

Thomas: Right, that's also my dystopian future view of it, right. We don't want it to-

Seth: That's not too dystopian. I mean, [crosstalk 00:13:33] I understand it's dystopian for you.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: But considering the possibilities.

Thomas: So interestingly, my third third test is, is this better done at the federal or state level? So for instance, there could be a bill that's constitutional and we can afford it, but frankly, the state should decide this and not the federal government. So those are my three tests. Sometimes I have to add a fourth qualifier.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: If I don't have time to read the bill, I'm voting no, because I didn't read it.

Seth: I'm voting no, right.

Thomas: Because it might fail one of the first three, and I'm not sure yet.

Seth: Why don't more people do that, by the way? Good question, right.

Thomas: Good question. In the last 36 hours of the last congress-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: I demanded like three dozen roll call votes. I got booed on the floor of the house.

Seth: Well, you are Mr. No, right. You realize that.

Thomas: Because I vote no, like, a fourth of the time, like that is like radical here.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: They want you to be 99% yes. It's okay if you vote no on the minutes, approving the minutes. They literally put that vote on the floor for the people who always follow leadership. [crosstalk 00:14:41] So that they can vote against leadership.

Seth: So that they can vote no. Interesting.

Thomas: So they can be like 95% a stooge for leadership.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: Instead of 100% stooge.

Seth: When you say leadership, let's broaden that to party.

Thomas: Right. Yeah.

Seth: How much do you care about party?

Thomas: Let me explain leadership and then I'll go on to part.

Seth: Okay. Fine.

Thomas: Leadership, that's when I don't want to say the word Paul Ryan or Kevin McCarthy, or Nancy Pelosi or Steny Hoyer, I'd say leadership.

Seth: Right, no I gotcha. I'm with you.

Thomas: About parties, so, there are a lot of people up here that claim to be bipartisan. But to me, that means you love both parties.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: So I've decided I'm trans-partisan.

Seth: Yes.

Thomas: Which means, I don't know which cloakroom to go into some days, because I can't identify with either party.

Seth: This is very funny bathroom humor. Literal bathroom humor. And I very much appreciate it, I do want to say, I want to give a hat tip to the marijuana moment, to Tom Angel, where I first saw your use of trans-partisan. I don't know if that's where you first used it.

Thomas: It may be, but this is a trans-partisan issue. I have pulled it in my district, and I pulled this in 2014, because I have my personal feelings. But I represent 750,000 people.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: And you cannot get in front of your skis on this issue. So I said, "Let's see what the people think." And I kept cross tabs among the parties, right.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: So there's Republican Independent and Democrat, and the first question I asked was sort of the Gallup poll question has been asked since the 70s, are you in favor of legalization? It's a very simple question.

Seth: Yup.

Thomas: Half of my constituents said no. 33% yes and 17% were undecided. But fortunately there were two other questions in my poll.

Seth: Something had to do with medical and something had to do with hemp.

Thomas: Yes. I didn't include hemp here because I didn't want to conflate the two.

Seth: Gotcha.

Thomas: But on medical, I said, "Are you in favor of legalizing medical marijuana with the prescription of the doctor? And by the way, this bill will be in the Kentucky state legislature this year. I'm talking to the state sponsors of it in Frankfort, Kentucky." Surprisingly, I believe it was two thirds of Republicans and three quarters of Democrats supported that. In my district, Kentucky's fourth district. The third question I asked surprised me a lot. And that was, regardless of whether you think it should be legal here right now, are you in favor of federal prohibition or should states decide? Three quarters of Democrats said states decide, 85% of Independents said states decide, and three quarters of Republicans said, "Let states decides." There was no difference between Democrats and Republicans on whether states should decide this or the federal government should decide.

Seth: There we go. We all love the 10th amendment now, right.

Thomas: Yes, now. For this issue.

Seth: We've come a long way, baby. So, didn't I see though, that you voted against that?

Thomas: Vote against, no.

Seth: Or is that not correct?

Thomas: No.

Seth: That voted. I mean, it didn't make sense. I saw the X next to it and it doesn't make sense that you would vote against that, no.

Thomas: To my knowledge, I've never voted against.

Seth: Okay, all right, good. We'll go [crosstalk 00:18:05] check that out.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: But, that's not something that you would do not knowingly, is the point here.

Thomas: No, because what this poll did, and it was a 2014 and I assume people have moved further.

Seth: Oh sure.

Thomas: In the direction of getting rid of the Federal Prohibition within my district.

Seth: Including large corporations.

Thomas: Yeah, well. That's another thing when we know we'll arrived when they control-

Seth: We're certainly getting there.

Thomas: Four fifths of the market. And then are up here trying to get more regulations on it so little guys can't get in.

Seth: To go back around, there we go.

Thomas: But no. So since I've been elected, I've been solid on this issue and that poll. Even though I don't stick my finger in the wind to decide how to vote, you cannot vote in opposition to your constituents. It's not what you're elected to do. They give you some leeway but not complete leeway. And they trust you. And so, with that poll in mind, I know I can vote the way that I feel about the issue.

Seth: I love that. When you say you polled your constituency, you also said, "I don't put my finger in the." You're not conflating those two things are you? You're not analogizing those two things.

Thomas: Well, sometimes polling is for that. Sometimes people would take a poll and say, "Okay, this is how I'm going to vote." Regardless-

Seth: Would you do that? Yeah.

Thomas: Of how I feel.

Seth: I gotcha. I gotcha.

Thomas: That we vote counter to it.

Seth: No yours sounds like market research.

Thomas: It is market research, and what it tells me is when I message this, I need to say, "I'm in favor of letting states decide." And I cannot get in trouble in a Republican primary or a general election for saying that states should decide.

Seth: We've said it for years, no matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican, cannabis gets more votes than you. That's just what happens.

Thomas: You could look at all the-

Seth: Now, you're calling-

Thomas: Early referendums in a lot of states, right?

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: On cannabis and-

Seth: No, cannabis gets more votes than anybody.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: With the exception of Earl Blumenauer, he likes to point that out. So I have to [inaudible 00:20:25] I have to make sure he said.

Thomas: He's for both, so he's for cannabis and he's Earl Blumenauer.

Seth: Indeed, yeah. There you go.

Thomas: And he's for bicycles.

Seth: The whole thing and bow ties. That's exactly right. All right so just very quickly, with the Stolen Valor thing, you voted no on that. I understand all of your votes from the philosophy that you have shared with us today. What was that one about?

Thomas: I'd have to go back and look. It's like 2013.

Seth: All right. Fair enough.

Thomas: My wiki page.

Seth: Fair enough, but we can go by your criteria-

Thomas: Obviously.

Seth: And it was one of those things, essential.

Thomas: Obviously, I'm not for Stolen Valor.

Seth: Right, yeah.

Thomas: Read the name of the bill and it usually means the opposite.

Seth: The opposite of. Well, that's a new trick that we've done in the past 25 years or so, right.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: So, just quickly one more vote, why not let's talk about it. Got the debt clock on the wall here. Which very involved, by the way, there's too many numbers for me to understand.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: But, bottom line is, we're not doing so well, right.

Thomas: We're not doing very hot at all. When I campaigned I lamented the debt was 16 trillion. When I was sworn in, the debt was already 17 trillion. Between my campaign and actually being sworn in, it had gone up a trillion.

Seth: That's 2012, right?

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: And now we're over 21 trillion now.

Seth: Went from 17 to 21.

Thomas: And it's almost 22, so what I've noticed is you can look at all the numbers year by year if you want, but I've been here about six years and it's gone up almost 6 trillion. Which means we've averaged about a trillion dollars a year. And our entire discretionary budget is a trillion dollars a year. So, it's as if we are borrowing every dime that is spent on everything that Congress votes on. So, every dime the military's borrowed, every dime to pay the interest is borrowed, every dime for NASA, every dime for anything that we vote on here. What I'm saying is, the revenue we bring in covers the so called entitlements.

Seth: Yes, yes.

Thomas: And then everything we vote on, there's no money left for it on the average.

Seth: So, this brings me to my question to you. Before fixing these other things, how could you possibly vote for the tax cut? So now, I get it. You like tax cuts. But before we fixed the thing we're adding to the deficit. I'm really looking in your eyes and asking you-

Thomas: Right.

Seth: The question. Please explain to me what that is or whatever, how it works or what you're thinking.

Thomas: So, you have a lot of people on TV talk about paying for tax cuts.

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: It's backasswards to me.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: The tax cuts don't need paid for, the spending needs paid for.

Seth: Yeah, but how could you take revenue away before you start to do the cuts that we need? So in other words-

Thomas: Well-

Seth: If I'm Tom Massey, I vote against that thing, and then I just rail against everybody. We got to cut everything, and because I want those tax cuts, I want to bring those back to Kentucky, you know what I mean.

Thomas: Your argument would be an argument also for raising taxes. But-

Seth: I don't think I said that, sir.

Thomas: Well, [crosstalk 00:23:49]

Seth: You could.

Thomas: If you want to put some words in my mouth, I'll give you some words for your mouth.

Seth: That's fair. That's totally fair, and I didn't mean to.

Thomas: I've got my set of principles I campaigned on. I come here, if you look at my record, I've consistently voted to cut spending.

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: And I campaign on cutting spending and cutting taxes. Now my colleagues, just because they just come here and spend money, and then cut taxes, you need to go have an interview with those hypocrites.

Seth: I'm only one guy, and I'm doing the votes as I was elected to do.

Thomas: That's right.

Seth: I vote against the spending, vote against, vote against, vote against. I gotta cut on the ... Okay, I'll all vote for it.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: Okay. All right. I feel like we're ... Who's the accountant? Let's go talk to that person. In terms of what we're doing here. Did you ever see the movie Dave? I'm not even kidding right now. Charles Grodin is the accountant. He comes in, 'cause Dave is the Kevin Kline, the president of the United States of America, and they balance the budget, the two of them.

Thomas: I'll have to go back and watch that-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: But-

Seth: He goes into a cabinet meeting he says, "Do you mind if we take this much? You mind if we take this much?" And they all have to say yes to the president and then it's done.

Thomas: That would be great. But Congress has the power of the purse.

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: And frankly, since I've been elected we've had two presidents, neither of them care two wits about the debt and the deficit. And in fact, neither of them campaigned on cutting it. And so when they get here, that's what you have. By the way, if we're making movie recommendations-

Seth: Oh sure, yeah.

Thomas: Please watch Idiocracy.

Seth: Oh, my god. Yeah. That's my judge is who that is.

Thomas: Brando.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: As what plans crave. It might have what cannabis craves, or hemp.

Seth: That's also interestingly, Office Space, the movie that I cited on the way into before we turn on the microphone, also Mike Judge. So, you might actually like it.

Thomas: I will go watch that because I don't know how it happened, but I went like 12 years without watching Idiocracy. I just watched it this weekend.

Seth: It's got to be a favorite movie ever.

Thomas: The house of representing. The house of representing.

Seth: We could go on forever here, so I will hopefully be invited back. I would love to.

Thomas: You're always invited back.

Seth: There you go. Talk to you again, but for now, we'll do the final three questions. I'll tell you what they are.

Thomas: Speed ground.

Seth: And I'll ask you them in order. Exactly. 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? So first things first.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: What's the most surprised you in cannabis? And we can include industrial hemp because of course, it's the same plant.

Thomas: I think how fast public opinion on this has moved, and the thing that surprised me most is the poll I did that shows that 75% of Republicans in an R plus 19 district in the Bible Belt say leave it up to the states. That's a shocking surprise to me.

Seth: They're saying yes to that. I mean, by saying no, but if everyone's agreeing, come on. We can certainly figure this out.

Thomas: And I kept that pole secret for four years.

Seth: Why?

Thomas: 'Cause I secretly hoped if somebody campaigned against me that they would know my position on cannabis against me.

Seth: There we go.

Thomas: Not knowing that 75%, whether it's Republicans or Democrats, supported my position.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: But now it's pretty obvious. So, that's what surprised me most was that poll.

Seth: In cannabis. What's most surprised you in life?

Thomas: I would say ... Well my life now for the last 10 years has been politics.

Seth: Why would you do that? So, if you're a libertarian, why are you even here? I asked you that with complete and total respect of your mind.

Thomas: I ask myself that when I drive in every morning-

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: I ask myself that as I sit at my desk and when I leave.

Seth: Is it to go into the belly of the beast? I'm the best person to get in here and affect change, is that the thinking type of thing?

Thomas: I want people to be left alone.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: So I'm here trying to create a space where people can be left alone. I am for leaving people alone.

Seth: Just leave them alone.

Thomas: So, I'm up here just fighting to let people live their lives the way they want.

Seth: And so when creating a federal law, your federal law says, leave them alone. Don't ask them this question.

Thomas: I wish there was a form, maybe you gotta be 26 years old to sign it, right. 'Cause you got to be 26 to rent a car now.

Seth: Yeah, sure.

Thomas: Or go off your parents health care. So, if that's the age of consent, whatever we decide it is, whenever you're an adult.

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: There should be a federal form filled out in triplicate, golden rod and pink copy and a green copy that says, "I hereby take responsibility for everything that goes into my body. And I don't need the FDA label-"

Seth: It's not a bad idea.

Thomas: I don't need the USDA label [crosstalk 00:28:48] and I am now qualified to buy, smokey, eat, drink.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: Whatever I want.

Seth: Yeah. So you department-

Thomas: As long as it doesn't hurt anybody else.

Seth: I gotcha.

Thomas: And I'm not selling it to kids.

Seth: Right, sure. Of course, that goes back to the [inaudible 00:29:04] memo type descriptions. But-

Thomas: So what was your second [crosstalk 00:29:09] yeah.

Seth: What's most surprised you in life?

Thomas: What's most surprised me-

Seth: The department of energy, and then what's the other one that you don't want any more?

Thomas: Department of Education.

Seth: Excuse me, Department of Education and what's the other one that you don't want?

Thomas: Department of Energy.

Seth: And then there's a third one, isn't there?

Thomas: No. If you get too many you forget about them-

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: On debates.

Seth: Yeah, like the one has happened, indeed. With Perry.

Thomas: Who's now-

Seth: Oops.

Thomas: The head of one of the departments here [crosstalk 00:29:32]

Seth: Would you do that though?

Thomas: Would I do what?

Seth: So, if I'm the next president, because.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: Anyway, and I say okay Tom Massie, I want you to be in charge of the Department of Education. Would you take the job? Because you said you wanted to do away with it.

Thomas: If the job was to dismantle it.

Seth: Just wind it down, I gotcha. Okay.

Thomas: In fact, I've got a one sentence bill. I need to reintroduce it because it didn't happen last Congress, but it said, "the Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018."

Seth: Okay. Well, 2019 now.

Thomas: Well now I'll move it to 2020.

Seth: 20.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Why?

Thomas: Because I don't think, and this is what I tell liberals who like the Department of Education. I don't think President Trump or his nominees should decide how or what your children learn.

Seth: So he this gets to the fact that there's a tremendous amount of presidential power now. You know what, what are your thoughts on acting on that.

Thomas: Well there's too much presidential power.

Seth: that's what I'm saying.

Thomas: Whether it's a Republican or a Democrat.

Seth: That's my exact point. That's my precise point. Why should one person decide if we go to war? I mean, come on.

Thomas: By the way, they shouldn't, and the constitution doesn't allow them to.

Seth: Exactly.

Thomas: It should also not be up to one person whether cannabis is legal.

Seth: Agreed.

Thomas: So, this is something I try to make a point of to my libertarian friends who were just apoplectic that Trump chose Jeff Sessions-

Seth: Yup.

Thomas: As his Attorney General.

Seth: Yup.

Thomas: It is not Jeff Sessions' job-

Seth: It's your job.

Thomas: It's my job.

Seth: That's right.

Thomas: It was actually Jeff Sessions' job when he was a senator.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Thomas: So actually what Trump did was he created a vacancy where you can get somebody whose job it is to remove the federal prohibition on cannabis.

Seth: That's it. Yeah.

Thomas: So.

Seth: The best thing that ever happened was Jeff Sessions rescinding the goal memos, because then Congress has to act. You guys have to act now and that's the state's act.

Thomas: Well, I hope we do act but.

Seth: Well, we'll see.

Thomas: But anyways, so you're right. It shouldn't be up to one person and it shouldn't be up to his nominees. Making the law is over here where we're sitting today.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: From Congress.

Seth: Yeah, what's most surprised you in life?

Thomas: What has most surprised me in life? Again, it's hard to think back for the last 10 years, but the amount of tribalism in politics is what's surprised me.

Seth: What party are you from because I need to stop talking to you possibly, but if-

Thomas: All right.

Seth: If you're with the correct party, then I agree with you 100%.

Thomas: There are some people who hate the president so much that if he comes out for marijuana, there'll be against it.

Seth: Well, so now here we are at the shutdown. And so now part of you has to be [inaudible 00:32:35] podcast [inaudible 00:32:36] time the government happens to be shut down while we're speaking. The party has to be kind of pleased about it. But then the other side, what should we be doing? What's the way out here? And what exactly is happening as you understand it as far as that's concerned?

Thomas: They have made shutdowns so easy to happen, that we're having more of them more frequently and they'll last longer.

Seth: Yep.

Thomas: Because here's one position I've taken, that is, it's immoral for the government to force anybody to do anything, right.

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: So I don't think the government should force air traffic controllers, or TSA workers, or even the prison guards-

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: The officers to come to work without pay, right. We're not paying them right now.

Seth: Yeah, sure.

Thomas: They're promised a paycheck at some point in the future, which we have no idea when that is.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: But if you didn't force them to come to work and they didn't come to work, this shut down would be over in five minutes.

Seth: That's it.

Thomas: Don't you think?

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: As soon as the line at the TSA-

Seth: Sure.

Thomas: Because there was nobody at the machine, as soon as that line stretched out to the parking lot-

Seth: Oh, look at that. Look, it's starts to be unpopular, doesn't it?

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: This would be solved immediately.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: So what my colleagues have done is they keep coming up with ways every time some area of the shutdown gets painful.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: They figure out a way to ameliorate it, so we can keep going into a shut down.

Seth: Yeah. Well we'll get paid first off here in Congress, so we'll get paid so check that box, right. And then the next people, we gotta have the TSA because otherwise people are going to start to realize what's going on here.

Thomas: Yeah, but the difference between Congress and TSA, both are showing up to work. The TSA is not getting paid.

Seth: Isn't that remarkable?

Thomas: So, my solution to it would be to make shutdowns real again.

Seth: Yeah, okay.

Thomas: If I shut down were shut down, if every federal employee, except for those responsible for opening it back up.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: Didn't come to work, this thing would be over in five minutes.

Seth: Yup. Just like that. Just like that.

Thomas: So that's what should happen at this point, but we'll see.

Seth: We'll see what does. On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's gotta be on there? Congressman Massie?

Thomas: What's? I don't know.

Seth: All right.

Thomas: You caught me off guard.

Seth: Well, so where'd you go to college?

Thomas: MIT.

Seth: Right. So, the robotics thing, please very quickly. You know about AI.

Thomas: Yes.

Seth: All right, what do you think we should be thinking?

Thomas: I worked at the MIT artificial intelligence lab for six and a half years.

Seth: Is this the one place that you say that you are not a libertarian?

Thomas: No.

Seth: No. The intellectual property.

Thomas: Patents.

Seth: Yeah, IP, not AI.

Thomas: Well, some libertarians are for patents and some are not.

Seth: Okay, why not for patents? That's a whole thing, yeah.

Thomas: It's the libertarian idea-

Seth: If all I've heard about AI, which is not true because I also do an AI podcast is Elan Musk's line, let's start there. What are your thoughts on what he's saying?

Thomas: Let me first of all create a space here for Elan Musk. He's done some amazing stuff. I drive a Tesla.

Seth: Yeah. He's the Thomas Edison of our time.

Thomas: He's the Tesla of our time.

Seth: Fair enough.

Thomas: The-

Seth: I think that's a better analogy, of course.

Thomas: The batteries in that car are more amazing than the car. My house runs off a wrecked Model S Tesla battery there I rewired and programmed to run my house. Okay, so I've got a Model S that works and one that's crash, and that runs my house. I didn't crash it.

Seth: Right.

Thomas: So it's amazing, but on artificial intelligence, when I was at the MIT, ninth floor of the artificial intelligence lab. My office was on the eighth and the labs were on the ninth, I was there for six and a half years. And I watched everybody banging away on their thesis projects and the robots running around, and the question was, when will artificial intelligence be so good that we can't tell it's not human? That's the Turing test.

Seth: The Turing, of course.

Thomas: Okay. The answer then, everybody agreed was 20 years. In 20 years, we will have sentient computers that you can't tell the difference. So,

Seth: And what year was that?

Thomas: That was 1989 to 1996. Okay, now.

Seth: All right.

Thomas: Fast forward to-

Seth: To 2019.

Thomas: Yeah, 2018 we had a hearing in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Seth: Fair enough.

Thomas: Where we brought in all these AI experts.

Seth: Oh, here we go.

Thomas: I actually recognized some of them. I'm like, "You worked in the lab I worked at. Oh, you're at Georgia now, okay." Anyways-

Seth: Probably Georgia Tech, though, right.

Thomas: Yeah. So I look at them and there's four witnesses. I said, "I'm going to ask it. I'm going to ask the question of all four witnesses. I got five minutes."

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: I asked them each, "How far away are we from a computer intelligence that's indistinguishable from a human intelligence when you're interacting with it?" The Turing test, they're all familiar with it.

Seth: Sure, of course.

Thomas: They each said, 20 years.

Seth: 20 years, right.

Thomas: So 20 years is the answer you give when you have no clue about when you're going to be able to solve this problem. And so as I asked them, "Well what about all the breakthroughs?"

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: And the four experts pretty much universally agreed that the breakthroughs were due to faster computers.

Seth: Compute power.

Thomas: Yeah, algorithms that didn't work do work when the computers are [crosstalk 00:38:06] a thousand times faster.

Seth: Now we can actually fold laundry, kind of thing.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: As opposed to maybe we could probably fold laundry if we had enough compute power.

Thomas: Right. I don't know what your take on it is, but I do not believe artificial intelligence is something to fear.

Seth: Certainly not now, is what you're saying. Not today.

Thomas: Yeah, and no more than a tractor should be feared. As opposed to like 100 people in the fields with hose trying to cultivate crops.

Seth: Yeah.

Thomas: The breakthroughs are going to be great. There's not enough of them. There will be more prosperity when it happens, not less.

Seth: And so far, as far as January 2019, not still at MIT but Congressman Massie saying, we're still talking about the tractor folks. Just pace yourselves.

Thomas: Right.

Seth: Okay.

Thomas: It's more like a horse. We finally got a piece of iron behind a horse, and it's dragging a furrow down the field.

Seth: So, it at MIT, what kind of music were you listening to when you were matriculating there, sir? This is where we're going with the music, with the soundtrack.

Thomas: I don't know that I'm going to be able to come up with that.

Seth: Oh come on, would it be the song that The Revenge of the Nerds guys played in Revenge of the Nerds?

Thomas: It might be a bluegrass song.

Seth: Okay. All right, so we'll go with Bill Monroe, I mean that's Kentucky, come on, yeah.

Thomas: I could name some obscure bluegrass song and they wouldn't, you know.

Seth: Okay, well we'll go with the entirety of bluegrass music.

Thomas: Okay.

Seth: As the soundtrack of your life, how about that?

Thomas: Let's do that, 'cause I play the banjo a little bit.

Seth: Do you really?

Thomas: Yes.

Seth: I mean, 'cause Steve Martin does too, as you must know.

Thomas: Yeah. But he's great and I suck.

Seth: Okay. Do you have one here in the office?

Thomas: I do not.

Seth: All right.

Thomas: We are not doing that.

Seth: All right, we'll do that next time.

Thomas: Yeah, okay.

Seth: Well, it doesn't sound like we'll do it next time. You are not pleased with your abilities on the banjo.

Thomas: I'm pleased with this interview, I am not ready to take the next step and play music on this interview, but can you tell the listeners what's over on my wall there that you're looking at, that leaf?

Seth: The leaf is a cannabis leaf. We talked about it.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Yeah, absolutely.

Thomas: So that's a topic of conversation when people come in here.

Seth: And now what is that? It's the Industrial Hemp Amendment to the Farm Bill. So then there you go, you got a leaf.

Thomas: Printed on hemp paper.

Seth: There it is.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: And then what's the other document there?

Thomas: It's the declaration of independence.

Seth: Oh yeah.

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: Thomas Jefferson-

Thomas: Yeah.

Seth: George Washington be rolling over in their graves, wouldn't they?

Thomas: I think so. It'd be-

Seth: I [inaudible 00:40:42] it started hemp, and then continue to the current government shutdown. They'd be livid.

Thomas: Right. Well, thanks for coming in.

Seth: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Look forward to checking in with you.

Thomas: All right. Come back anytime.

Seth: And there you have, US Congressman Thomas Massie, 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.