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Ep. 423: US Representative Joe Courtney

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 423: US Representative Joe Courtney

Ep. 423: US Representative Joe Courtney

Representative Joe Courtney joins us and shares the repercussions of the recent government shutdown and how it affects cannabis and agriculture: “When you look at the growing season fast approaching is just a tragic sequence of events, because we would love to have farmers putting seeds in the ground as we are in the beginning of spring, and it looks like the department has said that they are not gonna have the implementation language for the 2018 farm bill hemp legalization in place for the growing season in 2019. “

Transcript:

Seth Adler: US Congressman Joe Courtney joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com that's two n's and the word, "economy", or wherever you get your podcasts. As far as canneconomy.com is concerned we've got a ton of direct insight from luminaries in the space. Business, science, and of course policy.
First word from new sponsor Bedrocan, and then Congressman Joe Courtney.
Bedrocan is a patient driven global pharmaceutical minded cannabis company. They're entire end-to-end process is GMP certified through dutch, and ultimately European authorities. Bedrocan is the market leader in Europe for medical cannabis, and has been the sole supplier to the Dutch government for 16 years. Through the Dutch government, Bedrocan provides product to 15 countries currently.
As a science-based company, Bedrocan invests in clinical research. Leiden University conducted a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial on fibromyalgia with Bedrocan products which yielded promising results. They are not working on a follow-up to that study. Bedrocan is also working on the extent to which cannabis can reduce a reliability on opioids.

Bedrocan believes that clinical research is key for the future of the company, standardized product, the industry, and the patient. Visit Bedrocan.com for more information.
Congressman Courtney.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: Thank you for having me in. It's a pleasure to be here. And we are here to talk hemp.

Joe Courtney: Yes! Thank you.

Seth Adler: Yeah. I can see some ... Is this not hemp right sitting right here on the table?

Joe Courtney: It is! Made in Stonington Connecticut made with Mystic Knot company, makes great coasters, and platter holders, and it's a very sturdy material for that.

Seth Adler: So, hemp is new, and of course, it's not new at all, right?

Joe Courtney: It's ancient actually, but it's certainly making a big, big comeback.

Seth Adler: How would you have this ... How can I buy this? If you are also writing letters to the department of agriculture saying, "Hey, can we farm hemp?".

Joe Courtney: Well, to me that actually is the perfect way to pose the conundrum we have which is that Mystic Knot has to important hemp-based rope in order to make this beautiful product, and what we would like to do is to boost domestic production so that he could really just go right down route 395, which is the rural stretch of highway in Connecticut, to go to a farmer and help put some cash in his pocket.

Seth Adler: Sure. The founders I think would be incensed to hear that he's importing his product when he could be farming it. And I say that they would be incensed because they were farming it as you well know.

Joe Courtney: Absolutely. I mean, Jefferson-

Seth Adler: Washington too.

Joe Courtney: Ben Franklin was a big proponent of it-

Seth Adler: The string that had the key on it for the kite for electricity, that was a hemp string.

Joe Courtney: Well, I didn't know that, and that's gonna be a great new talking point which I'm gonna borrow if you don't mind.

Seth Adler: Absolutely, please do! If you can credit us even better.

Joe Courtney: Okay, will do.

Seth Adler: All right, so he's importing it. Let's just dive right into that letter, because that really kind of says it all. Here we got with the farm bill, it's passed with a flourish leader McConnell signing it with a hemp pen even. So, great! And then now, what? We have to regulate it.

Joe Courtney: If you wanna do it on the basis of interstate commerce. The bill as a matter of legislative text removed industrial hemp from schedule one so it made it a legal product again. Took hundreds of years to get us back to that point, but we'll take it.

Seth Adler: Sure, take what we can get.

Joe Courtney: And USDA which again, does put rules in place for interstate commerce on fruits, and vegetables, and dairy, and all other kinds of agricultural products, again, was in the process with moving forward with those after passage last December. And then guess what happened? The US department of agriculture got caught up in the shutdown, so that place again, just went off the grid for 36 days or so.
Which, when you look at the growing season fast approaching is just a tragic sequence of events, because we would love to have farmers putting seeds in the ground as we are in the beginning of spring, and it looks like the department has said that they are not gonna have the implementation language for the 2018 farm bill hemp legalization in place for the growing season in 2019.

Seth Adler: US Congressman Joe Courtney joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com that's two n's and the word, "economy", or wherever you get your podcasts. As far as canneconomy.com is concerned we've got a ton of direct insight from luminaries in the space. Business, science, and of course policy.
First word from new sponsor Bedrocan, and then Congressman Joe Courtney.
Bedrocan is a patient driven global pharmaceutical minded cannabis company. They're entire end-to-end process is GMP certified through dutch, and ultimately European authorities. Bedrocan is the market leader in Europe for medical cannabis, and has been the sole supplier to the Dutch government for 16 years. Through the Dutch government, Bedrocan provides product to 15 countries currently.
As a science-based company, Bedrocan invests in clinical research. Baldwin University conducted a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial on fibromyalgia with Bedrocan products which yielded promising results. They are not working on a follow-up to that study. Bedrocan is also working on the extent to which cannabis can reduce a reliability on opioids.
Bedrocan believes that clinical research is key for the future of the company, standardized product, the industry, and the patient. Visit Bedrocan.com for more information.
Congressman Courtney.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: Thank you for having me in. It's a pleasure to be here. And we are here to talk hemp.

Joe Courtney: Yes! Thank you.

Seth Adler: Yeah. I can see some ... Is this not hemp right sitting right here on the table?

Joe Courtney: It is! Made in Stonington Connecticut made with Mystic Knot company, makes great coasters, and platter holders, and it's a very sturdy material for that.

Seth Adler: So, hemp is new, and of course, it's not new at all, right?

Joe Courtney: It's ancient actually, but it's certainly making a big, big comeback.

Seth Adler: How would you have this ... How can I buy this? If you are also writing letters to the department of agriculture saying, "Hey, can we farm hemp?".

Joe Courtney: Well, to me that actually is the perfect way to pose the conundrum we have which is that Mystic Knot has to important hemp-based rope in order to make this beautiful product, and what we would like to do is to boost domestic production so that he could really just go right down route 395, which is the rural stretch of highway in Connecticut, to go to a farmer and help put some cash in his pocket.

Seth Adler: Sure. The founders I think would be incensed to hear that he's importing his product when he could be farming it. And I say that they would be incensed because they were farming it as you well know.

Joe Courtney: Absolutely. I mean, Jefferson-

Seth Adler: Washington too.

Joe Courtney: Ben Franklin was a big proponent of it-

Seth Adler: The string that had the key on it for the kite for electricity, that was a hemp string.

Joe Courtney: Well, I didn't know that, and that's gonna be a great new talking point which I'm gonna borrow if you don't mind.

Seth Adler: Absolutely, please do! If you can credit us even better.

Joe Courtney: Okay, will do.

Seth Adler: All right, so he's importing it. Let's just dive right into that letter, because that really kind of says it all. Here we got with the farm bill, it's passed with a flourish leader McConnell signing it with a hemp pen even. So, great! And then now, what? We have to regulate it.

Joe Courtney: If you wanna do it on the basis of interstate commerce. The bill as a matter of legislative text removed industrial hemp from schedule one so it made it a legal product again. Took hundreds of years to get us back to that point, but we'll take it.

Seth Adler: Sure, take what we can get.

Joe Courtney: And USDA which again, does put rules in place for interstate commerce on fruits, and vegetables, and dairy, and all other kinds of agricultural products, again, was in the process with moving forward with those after passage last December. And then guess what happened? The US department of agriculture got caught up in the shutdown, so that place again, just went off the grid for 36 days or so.
Which, when you look at the growing season fast approaching is just a tragic sequence of events, because we would love to have farmers putting seeds in the ground as we are in the beginning of spring, and it looks like the department has said that they are not gonna have the implementation language for the 2018 farm bill hemp legalization in place for the growing season in 2019.

Seth Adler: Well, then what was the point of-

Joe Courtney: They will by probably the end of this calendar year.

Seth Adler: Understood. Now, we usually talk about the rest of the plant.

Joe Courtney: Right.

Seth Adler: And so when operating in areas of gray, we basically do that as long as we can if there is that gray. Is there black and white that says, "Don't do this."?

Joe Courtney: So, again as a matter of interstate commerce it's a little blacker than gray. Having said that, your point is well taken. There's not gonna be hemp cops out there, I don't think, from the US department of agriculture, really hounding people who have said, "Well, it's off schedule one. I'm gonna grow it.". We are looking with the help of folks back in Connecticut and the attorney generals office just to see whether or not we can come up with some sort of short-term bridge in getting some kind of domestic ... For domestic use within the four corners of the state as a possibly, and it's just ... Again, there are parts of the country where the growing season is not as limited as New England, but time is the enemy for us and again, it is frustrating.
We are actually gonna continue to have a dialogue with the folks over the with the department. We're gonna set up a conference call with members from New England just to see ... You know, please. Let's come up with some interim arrangement.

Seth Adler: Even a letter of guidance like the old coal memos might help here, just from the ...

Joe Courtney: Yeah. Well, thank you again. We're gonna try every opportunity that we can. New England which is not known as a big commodity crop state, the fact is that there is still pretty strong agriculture, particularity the further north you go. And if you talk to folks who are in sort of the traditional sectors like dairy, whether it's in Vermont or eastern Connecticut where I hail from, it's a pretty tough market out there right now.
Frankly the counter tariffs by Mexico on US cheese has really depressed the price of milk, and the tobacco growers in Connecticut River Valley which make the wrapper tobacco for the high-end cigars, again, that market has also really softened over the years. So, to have an opportunity for just a nice, now legal cash crop that has just unbelievable variety of uses is just really a way of trying to really sustain agriculture in probably the most expensive part of the country to be a grower.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Interstate commerce is difficult. So, essentially the farm bill really helps with that, if we could finally get our rule set.

Joe Courtney: Correct.

Seth Adler: When you said, "intrastate", we should be good to go on that, shouldn't we?

Joe Courtney: I practiced law for over 20 years, and it sounds pretty good to me. But again, I think that ... The farmers, they're amazing people. The risk of getting into that activity is so high, but they are so passionate. But they also are very risk adverse in terms of the law. I think that it would help if we could get something from the attorney general who is new, just got elected last fall, but we've been having already great dialogue with him about trying to help these guys.

Seth Adler: Good! And we did notice the attorney general change.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: Absolutely. So, he's also had some recent work that we noticed. Podcast land knows no time, we happen to be talking at the very end of Q1 2019. And you just did a really good job of kind of sharing how all of this does fit together. So, when we have a government shutdown it's not just things that happen in the press. It's not just 30 days and no consequences. Here is a department that could not function, and what that means is that there are farmers that are going to miss an entire season of this brand new crop that they could be taking advantage of.

Joe Courtney: Absolutely. The ripple effect of a government shutdown extends far beyond the 800,000 federal employees who were told to stay home during that time period. We're still digging out from under it. The IRS was on of the effected agencies, which we're in the middle of tax season with the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 80s. The mail that piled up while they were ... It's gonna take them over a year to dig out from all that. But, the list goes on and on in terms of just the collateral damage that was done with just complete idiocy, it accomplished nothing.

Seth Adler: What's nice is that we have an on ramp of government shutdowns recently, and by nice I'm being sarcastic. We have evidence that this does not work, it does not help, it accomplishes nothing, and it costs nothing.

Joe Courtney: Absolutely. You're right. If you go back to the Obama Care shutdown in 2013 or the 90s shut down that Speaker Gingrich did, nobody ever saw an end result that made it worth it ... Well, obviously didn't come out at least when we passed the budget to reopen the government. So yeah, as a political tactic it's a complete bust. And I think the calculation of loss to the economy in 2013 was about $24-26 billion dollars according to the economic think tanks that were there. So, absolutely, this is really kind of almost an iconic example of the harm that it caused.

Seth Adler: You mentioned the IRS, you mentioned the tax bill. What were your thoughts there? What we did there?

Joe Courtney: Oh I mean, it was atrocious. Coming from New England where we have high property values, the cap on state on local taxes is gonna ...

Seth Adler: The salt tax.

Joe Courtney: The salt tax, is just gonna be horrible for homeowners in our state and New York and New Jersey.

Seth Adler: So it makes sense that your point of view on the tax bill is such based on what you just shared. Can you unpack atrocious beyond salt?

Joe Courtney: Oh, absolutely. First of all, two trillion dollar hole in the public finances of the country. The benefits were just skewed to a ridiculous amount to corporations who's corporate tax rate was cut to a level below really what even the corporations were asking for. Down to 21% from 35%. I mean, actually, you put them on truth serum, they would've agreed to a higher level and that just blew a massive hole. The estate tax cut, which basically raised the threshold to states that are subject to a tax now. It's like .002% of the country is exposed to having that kind of tax liability, and it was about a 90 billion dollar hole over five years, which-

Seth Adler: You call it the estate tax, I've heard it called the death tax. Why do you not refer to it as the death tax?

Joe Courtney: Because if you go back to World War I, Theodore Roosevelt imposed ... In that era ... When they created the estate tax it was called the estate tax because it's based on your posthumous estate after you die, and I did do a little bit of that work when I was making an honest living before going to Congress. And again, to me that one was the one that was just completely infuriating. I come from the highest per capita income state in America. There are people who actually are subject to that tax. Any estate planner, lawyer, who couldn't figure out whether insurance trust to pay the liability ... This was not a population that really was screaming out for help.

Seth Adler: Right, we need this for help, is I think the operative word there.

Joe Courtney: Yes. They eliminated other real middle class tax deductions, like property casualty loss. People who've been hit by natural disasters, they narrowed that to a cruel amount. With the new majority in the House I think we're gonna certainly see at least some rewrite and some revisit that's gonna happen there.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Just walking around here, it feels different in this new Congress. There is new leadership, of course it would feel different. How does it feel different to you?

Joe Courtney: With 62 new members in the House democratic caucus, that's a huge number. And it is a really impressive group of people who bring life experiences from the military, intelligence, business, education, healthcare, and who won't tough races ... Full discloser when I was first elected to Congress in 2006, I won by 83 votes out of 241,000. None of them by the way were that close in this new class, so I keep telling them, "You didn't have a touch race!".

Seth Adler: It wasn't close!

Joe Courtney: Right. But anyway, it's really nice to see the democracy sort of push the refresh button in terms of this infusion of new perspectives, and talents, and I'm very bullish on this new group. And obviously getting the gavel to our side after eight years in minority subhuman existence, this is a real plus. We're actually moving stuff that has been pent up for far too long.

Seth Adler: Yeah! We mentioned a name early on, Congressman Crowley, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, that was a close race but I guess not ... That race obviously is almost the example of the switch from the "old guard" to the "new guard". Knowing that you are here, knowing that you are exciting by the pressing of the refresh button on democracy, as you put it, which is a great quote. What are your thoughts there?

Joe Courtney: Well, again, we've seen already since the arrival of the freshman ... First of all, there are sort of a basic agenda of items that had been just willfully blocked despite the majority of the country screaming out for change. I mean, HR8, which is the compressive background check, which again, is supported by 70% of NRA members, we finally got a vote. You go back three or four years ago, I was down on the well of the house doing a sit in with John Lewis and everybody else there, which was-

Seth Adler: I saw the Facebook Live even.

Joe Courtney: That's right. Actually C-Span viewership went up 800% that day, and it was being done by someone with a phone, because they shut off the cameras in the well. So anyway, you're starting to see some of this stuff get unlocked and moving along, which is way overdue. But obviously there's gonna be this next level of policy, which ...
So, The Green New Deal, which I'm a co-sponsor of because it's a non-binding resolution, despite some of the hysteria that surrounds it, if we passed it today it really wouldn't have any legal effect. But what it does do it raises the issue of climate change, which again, did not get one question in the 2016 presidential debates, which is just really, in retrospect, appalling. With the international panel on climate change that said, "This issue is accelerating, not just bad", I mean, it's getting worse faster than we thought. Having her come in and craft a package that A, says, "Hey, wake up. It's time to get moving.". And secondly to paint a picture that really shows that this is not something that we all have to sort of go live in caves.
There're real opportunities for innovative renewable energy, different ways of applying conservation that will actually strengthen our standard of living and also create employment opportunists. I think it's great, and there will be a select committee on climate change, which is gonna be reporting out a package pretty soon, which will actually have ... That's real legislation with real text in terms of trying to get moving on this.

Seth Adler: That would be binding.

Joe Courtney: Yes, correct.

Seth Adler: I was stuck by the reaction. I think you're helped and you're hurt by people paying attention. But I was stuck by the vociferous aggression against an idea. It seems like we've been doing things one way, and "Hey, here's a new idea. Here's a different way at looking at it.", it's the same ... And this will be just me talking about this unless you wanna chime in.
When I saw Jamie Dimon just yelling and screaming about bitcoin and how it was a terrible thing, it just makes one think ... "I notice that you're the CEO of a bank. We can't help but notice ... Why are you so angry about this?", shouldn't your point of view be, "Let them prove it"? Then I wouldn't pay attention as much, but it raises my ... what? Tentacles, antenna, when there's such a vociferous negative reaction to simply an idea.

Joe Courtney: Well, again, the flip side of the change that took place here is that there are some people who are having a hard time accepting the change, that we are gonna have a new agenda. If you got back to what happened last November, I was actually at a breakfast meeting with E.J Dionne from the Washington Post, who really I think made a pretty amazing point, which even I didn't realize, which was, "This election was the highest midterm turn out since 1914.", in terms of what happened here. Hillary Clinton-

Seth Adler: Going back to World War I by the way.

Joe Courtney: Correct that's right. Hillary Clinton's margin in 2016 was 2.9 million, that was her plurality. The plurality for house democrats in 2018 was just shy of 10 million. This is almost a biblical even in terms of just the incredible energy and obviously demand signal for ... This country's gotta make a course correction fast.

Seth Adler: "We would like some change please.", is what it sounds like.

Joe Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. And again, we gotta smart about it, obviously you gotta do your blocking and tackling in terms of keeping the government open and doing all that stuff.

Seth Adler: But, when you say, "Gotta be smart about it.", when folks come at you and say, "We already have the deficit.", you look at it, and you could say, "Okay, well then maybe we shouldn't have done ...", we already talked about that. But, this is what the deficit is. We have a tremendous amount of debt. How could we possibly go into something like this, which is by all estimates only gonna cost us? What's the reaction to that?

Joe Courtney: As I said, we have to smart about this. And I think that one of the first things that we did with rules that were adapted on opening day, was we brought back the PAYGO rules. Which basically says, "If you're gonna bring something to floor that costs money, you have to have an offset.". And that includes not just spending, but also tax cuts. The prior guys that were in charge, had eliminated that PAYGO rules for tax cuts, so that just opened the door for this massive-

Seth Adler: That's so strange.

Joe Courtney: Yeah. Deficit spending that-

Seth Adler: It's been reported to me ad nauseam, that it's the democrats that don't pay as they go and it's the republicans that do. So that's a very strange thing to hear.

Joe Courtney: It's strange, but it makes me crazy because if you look at the job that Clinton did in terms of cleaning up-

Seth Adler: Balancing the budget?

Joe Courtney: ... the debt.

Seth Adler: Giving us a surplus?

Joe Courtney: And Obama who walked in obviously when the whole global economy was collapsing-

Seth Adler: It had hit the fan sir.

Joe Courtney: That's right. But even the trajectory of the deficit by the time he left office was definitely on a very healthy downward trend, and now we're back in the soup again. A new Congresswoman from New Jersey said that when she goes out and talks to groups, she kind of uses the mother analogy, "Now the democrats are the mom, we have to go clean up the mess afterward.".

Seth Adler: Well that's always been the analogy though, right?

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: Mother and father is usually how it goes.

Joe Courtney: But I actually think this is a serious group, as I said, their backgrounds are really strong in terms of both public service and private sector experience. I'm very confident we're gonna do the right thing.

Seth Adler: So fresh new ideas with the PAYGO principle intact now again, and so that's how we go about this.

Joe Courtney: Correct.

Seth Adler: Okay, that sounds like ... Reasonable.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: Anytime I get to talk about the military in any way, I like to bring it up. And I know that that's a committee of yours. So, what are your thoughts there? What are you a proponent of? Here and now in this Congress.

Joe Courtney: So again, with the Democrats in charge on arm services, which I sit on, I think again, you are gonna see a really health reassertion of Congress's role in terms of military policy, war making powers, which again, has just been a total abdication since 2002, which was really the last time Congress voted on ... Whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq.

Seth Adler: Those decisions sit with the legislature in the Constitution of the United States of America, is that correct?

Joe Courtney: That's correct, article one. And despite ... I think the percentage of congress that still sits today that was around ... It's like less than 20%. I'm sure they were really good, smart people, but nobody back in 2002 probably had the faintest idea where Yemen was, or some of these other ... Niger, where there's US military forces on the ground, or refueling planes and doing stuff that is clearly war making. So I think you're-

Seth Adler: That's not what we meant in our reaction to 9/11.

Joe Courtney: Exactly. That was all about Al-Qaeda, and trying to get a failed state somewhat stabilized in Afghanistan. So I think when we do the defense bill which we do every year on that committee, you are gonna see a reassertion, certainly at least by our side, to get our war making powers rebalanced.

Seth Adler: You would think that that would be ... This kind of fiscal conservatism. You would think that that would abound. Because essentially what you're saying is we can't just go spending money without deciding to spend money. In a way, that's what we're saying. There's also of course, the human beings, our troops, that we're sending, and we've gotta take care of them when they come back and all of that.

Joe Courtney: I mean, in particularly in the terms of reasserting the article one powers, that should be a broad based bipartisan effort, because if you're just conceding power to the executive branch ... I mean, I'm in my third president since I've been here. It was the tail end of Bush ... That wasn't the plan when the constitution was put together.

Seth Adler: So I see elected officials that seem to have a counter intuitive mindset to the one that they used to have. I'm not going to even reduce this to party. I'm just saying, if you're an elected official that used to think this way, and now because party has changed you think that way, how can we ever get anything done if that's gonna happen?

Joe Courtney: That's really in someways the question of the day for Congress is just that, people really have to remember your oath. Really getting back to basic principles. So, last night the Secretary of Defense signed an order siphoning off a billion dollars from the army's account into the wall down at the southern boarder. Historically, anytime they do what's called reprogramming, that's what that decision's called, they consult with congress. The two defense committee as well as the appropriations committee because it gives us an opportunity to object. Again, remember-

Seth Adler: It's also ... You said the word, "appropriation", right? Isn't he appropriating?

Joe Courtney: Right, because these were funds that were appropriated to the army, they weren't appropriated to the wall. So, remember we have split control, so there's a republican senate, and a democratic house. They should feel very comfortable about coming over. I mean, again, every president, really going back decades, has followed that practice. Well, last night the Secretary of Defense reprogrammed that money, and just bypassed congress. I mean, it was really kind of a Rubicon moment. Maybe that could be a font page headline. But it shows how these norms and these practices which were built around respect for the constitutional framework are just getting trampled on over, and over, and over again, and hopefully ... We had a hearing where ... I just brought that issue up with acting Secretary Shanahan, and actually republican members were objecting to it as well.

Seth Adler: It seems ludicrous.

Joe Courtney: That's right. Plus [inaudible 00:27:20] really strong supporters of the army.

Seth Adler: Also, shouldn't that money be where we need it to go?

Joe Courtney: Correct.

Seth Adler: All right. I gotta get out of town because you gotta get to work here, and thanks for doing that. Just finally though, what I love about the fact that you are focused on hemp, is that that seems like a nice solution for these United States of America, because hemp will grow anywhere. Thomas Jefferson will tell you. You can actually read him writing that. Once we get our system straight here, the world is our oyster on industrial hemp.

Joe Courtney: It truly is. One of the things that we're excited about is that in the wake of the farm bill, we're already seeing interests in terms of building process facilities, which is the key to really unlocking all of the amazing potential of hemp.

Seth Adler: You just used a four letter word. You just said jobs.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

Seth Adler: That's what we're talking about.

Joe Courtney: Correct.

Seth Adler: So, the three final questions, I'll tell you what they are, I'll ask you them in order.

Joe Courtney: Okay.

Seth Adler: 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 gotta be on there. Always the last question. But first things first, what has most surprised you in cannabis we can make in industrial hemp for this conversation?

Joe Courtney: Building materials, and we have a very serious problem back in my district of bad concretes and foundations. There was a strain of quarry aggregate that is deteriorating. It's a big, big issue in Connecticut. It makes you realize, we really need to open our minds to other possibilities of building materials. And hemp-

Seth Adler: Hemp-crete!

Joe Courtney: Exactly. The mold issue doesn't exist with it, and it's durable as heck. So that's I guess my one for the day.

Seth Adler: Yeah, we'll take it absolutely. What's most surprised you in life?

Joe Courtney: This is not a ... Going to Congress was not ... No one can lay out the plan. This thing sort of happens by itself.

Seth Adler: You personally, right?

Joe Courtney: Yes, that's right. And I still pinch myself every day that I've had this amazing opportunity. I'm very grateful to the district and I have an unbelievably supportive wife who has really been integral in terms of doing this. We're celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this year.

Seth Adler: Happy anniversary.

Joe Courtney: She's been the real force that's really made this possible.

Seth Adler: So just that, you're happy to be here. Thanks so much, can't believe it.", type of thing.

Joe Courtney: Yes, and I'm an optimist about the country, I really am.

Seth Adler: You think we're gonna be all right?

Joe Courtney: I do, it's a tough time right now, but I really ... This election that we talked about I think is a perfect example ... We have the ability to self modulate.

Seth Adler: More listening, less shouting I guess is my hope. Because that's how you get stuff done. If you're shouting you can't be listening.

Joe Courtney: By the way these freshman, they are all about that. They wanna really restore civility and comedy to the proceedings.

Seth Adler: Decorum, even.

Joe Courtney: Yes.

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

Joe Courtney: Again, because of Audrey, Brown Eyed Girl by Jan Morrison.

Seth Adler: You can't go wrong. Congressman Courtney, thank you so much I appreciate it.

Joe Courtney: Great, I really enjoyed it.

Seth Adler: And there you have Joe Courtney. 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.