Jax Finkel 0:00
It’s like a moving target that constantly moving. I just have to stay optimistic. Whenever I first started volunteering in the cannabis realm, I was like cannabis is cool, you know? And that was like awesome. And then I started kind of like, oh my god all the my friend just got arrested. Oh my god, what is he going through? Oh, well, this guy that I know that paraplegic, gets extreme relief, and it just be it became more than that to me, until it becomes more than that to everyone. There’s gonna be issues. And so I think we have to get back into that kind of like, personal responsibility and freedom narratives that Texas loves. Listen, you need to be responsible for your person. Are you driving while under the influence? That’s not okay. But if you’re consuming stuff as a grown person, that’s your prerogative. just continuing to push those conversations and continuing to build support and a broad base.
You’re listening to To be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:26
Hello, every buddy. Welcome back to another episode of The To be blunt podcast. I’m your host Shayda Torabi and I am sitting right at the beginning of March. And by the time this episode airs, we are going to have a few things that are actually underway in March. So for those of you that are Texas based, this is especially pertinent information for you. There has been a smokeable ban that has kind of been going on and off in the state of Texas in terms of smokeable, cannabis retail, manufacturing and sales. And basically back in August of 2020. It was decided in a regulatory, you know, effort to put a ban on smoking bowls. I think there’s definitely a lot of opinions and thoughts on why that ban was put into place. But essentially, the ban was challenged by a couple companies who are operating in the state of Texas. And the judge presiding over the case decided to put a pause on the ban allowing for retail sale. So while they were kind of you know, trying to figure out what was happening with this lawsuit. Now with that said, I am a retail operator here in state of Texas. And so not being able to sell smokeable is definitely impacts us. So we definitely are grateful that there has been a pause on the bands that we can continue to sell them safely and high quality products. Of course, I think that was part of some of the things that I discovered a little bit later on, as I was learning about, you know, the regulatory framework here in Texas, and why this regulatory law might have been imposed. And really, I think it is ultimately for the consumer safety, making sure that consumers you know, are being sold essentially what they think they’re purchasing. And so with Texas, in particular, you have a lot of a lot of people selling a lot of cannabis. And because it’s unregulated, it’s been really difficult to, you know, keep track of and so I do think that this smokeable banwell difficult for both people operating in the industry as well as consumers, it is something that I think is going to, you know, ultimately be for the benefit of the consumer, right. And as a consumer myself, I think that that’s, you know, helpful for for the well being of this plant and for this industry. Now, with that said, there’s a hearing associated to that lawsuit, I’m kind of struck because I’m trying to, you know, recall dates and things like that, but it keeps getting pushed in the band keeps, you know, taking effect not being in effect. So we’ve been kind of jerked around since last August as an industry here in Texas. But I believe March 22. That case gets reopened. So we have a few weeks before we hear any movement on that front. We are in the middle of a Texas legislative session. So I imagine from you know, a law perspective that we’re going to see some of this stuff being actually impacted and properly written into law at least that’s my hope. And on top of all of this smokeable is is really under a lot of you know flak right now. federally the United States Postal Service. This is one of the things that kind of came up recently and one of the the recent laws is going to prohibit the shipping of smokeable rolls through the United States Postal Service. Obviously you we don’t want people specifically underage children purchasing cannabis products. That you can smoke on the web without proper identification and age verification. And so that’s definitely the impetus for this ruling and decision. But essentially what it means is the United States Postal Service as of April 26, of this year is not going to allow shipping of any, any smokeable products, and the United postal service. So ups, I think that’s what ups stands for. But UPS and FedEx, both are deciding to agree. So ups is taking effect April 5, and FedEx actually took effect march first. So that’s going to be a really big blow to the industry, I think, especially for brands who are shipping out of state, it’s going to ultimately force those smokeable purchases into retail situation. So just kind of a heads up that that’s coming. And on that topic. I know this was a really long winded introduction today. But I am a born and raised Texan, I’m very proud to be Texan, despite our slow cannabis progression. But I’m really grateful to be joined today by jackson Finkel, she is a really prominent leader in the Texas cannabis community. She’s here in Austin, and she is the executive director on two really important nonprofits that exists in our state to advocate on behalf of this plant and its patients. One is the foundation for an informed Texas, the whole premise is just to create a pathway for both consumers and businesses and just you know, citizens of Texas, to be informed on cannabis policy and what is happening and how they can, you know, share their their testimonials and get involved themselves. And then she’s also the executive director of Texas Normal. Normal is a national organization that, you know, exists to help, you know, fight against a lot of the stigma and discrimination that’s happening in cannabis. And she operates that nonprofit as well here in Texas, which has been a huge voice and leader in helping, you know, just lay the groundwork to do the work not only from a entity perspective, but really to empower the people. And so those are both two organizations that I’ve just been tracking along here in Texas, and really appreciate what Jack’s is doing. And so I invited her to be on the show. So that’s what we talked about. And I will say this, whether you are a Texan or not, and you’re like this doesn’t apply to me. Listen, everything will apply to you, there is going to be stuff that you learn that Texas is doing that may or may not directly, you know impact where you’re existing in your state and vice versa. That’s what the whole podcast is about. It’s about us sharing and learning from each other. So I hope this episode clues you into a current pulse on Texas’s cannabis landscape from a legal perspective and a political perspective, as well as gives you some avenues and opportunities to figure out ways that you can get involved and give back. So let’s welcome Jack’s to the show.
Jax Finkel 8:06
Hi, everybody. I’m jack finkel. I work with two local nonprofits, both based out of Austin, the capital city, I work with foundation for an informed Texas and Texas normal. And I’m the executive director for both organizations. I’ve been in the cannabis space volunteering since about 2005. And a lot has changed since then. I volunteered with Texas normal for many years. And then in the 2015 legislative session, we saw not only a dramatic increase in the filing of cannabis bills, but we saw our program our medical program be instituted. And while it was really limited, it did make me realize that this was something that is an important topic and could not just be handled on a volunteer basis just during the session we had work to do all the time. And so to that end, I started working with Texas normal and they’re a 501 C for a nonprofit we focused on grassroots advocacy voters guides education events. And I noticed that there was also an appetite for a different type of organization. You know, people were wanting to donate, but not have, you know the word marijuana or cannabis on their donation. They were also wanting to, you know, focus more in like rural areas. And so to that end, I started foundation for him from Texas, back in 2000. I want to say it was 17 but I’m might be wrong on that. But whenever we started that group, you know, it’s a public charity nonprofit focusing on education and we were doing traveling educational seminars, especially focusing in rural Texas. And we had the first ever medical cannabis ad that aired on fox news and MSNBC and it was really great. And then you know, the pandemic hit About a year ago, and it really changed a lot of stuff. And I was very concerned about not only the two organizations surviving, but then being able to continue empowering people to do the work that needs to be done. Fortunately, we’ve got great boards with both organizations that are nimble and were able to really help us adjust. And while it has been, you know, difficult like it has been for anybody else, we have continued to do the work. Because it continues to be a topic where patients are left behind and Texans are saddled with a lot of criminal harsh penalties for possession. I know that you have viewers from all over so just so everybody knows. In Texas, of course hemp has a robust market here, if it’s got point 3% THC or less and is run through proper channels. We also have a medical cannabis program that is arguably limited, both by condition and by THC. There’s point 5% THC in our program. So you can see it’s only moderately more than what’s available over the counter. But whenever it comes to, you know, cannabis possession, the criminalization of it at the state level, that’s how we decide our drug laws. And so at the state level, it is still a Class B misdemeanor, which is up to 180 days in jail up to a $2,000 fine, you lose your driver’s license to get arrested. And there’s other collateral consequences that come with that. We have seen a lot of urban, especially areas Institute these deep prioritization programs, where you know, either it’s a first chance program or a science summons, or they’re trying to stop having to spend so much of their budget on cannabis possession, because once hits became legal. Now, you know, you can’t necessarily tell visually how much THC is in a product. So any possession arrests now are accompanied with having to be accompanied with a test as well. So it’s become even more burdensome for a lot of these departments. So that is the current state of affairs here in Texas, we are in a legislative session, and we’ve had several dozen bills authored, and I expect that more will be filed before the filing deadline, which is coming up quickly. So we’ve got a lot of opportunity ahead of us. But we also have to throw around a word that’s being thrown around a lot right now, an unprecedented situation, you know, it’s a pretty virtual experience up at the Capitol right now with a lot of offices choosing not to really meet too much in person. And we’re facing, you know, the pandemic and another winter storm issues. So this topic is still extremely important. But it has its own set of issues that we have to deal with this session, you then try to overcome, you know, typically we do an in person Lobby Day, and we have several 100 people up at the Capitol on a Tuesday dress professional. And you know, that’s not going to be possible this year. So how do we continue to make strides and make efforts and make sure that people’s voices are being heard at the Capitol?
Shayda Torabi 13:02
Thank you for that very thorough background of the organizations that you represent, as well as kind of what the current state in Texas is, I definitely love this podcast platform, because I think it is important for all of us to know what’s going on in every state, and as well as take some of these cues. So whether or not the listeners are actually in Texas, I hope that they listen to what you’re sharing and the organizations that you represent, and try to see if there’s an organization in their local city or state that that is doing something very similar, because I do think, you know, education and advocacy is, is important. And so that’s kind of leading into my first question. You know, when we talk about education and advocacy, I’ll share kind of a personal story to kind of kick it off. I’ve been a cannabis consumer for the last 15 years of my life, but I really didn’t get into advocacy through organizations or through even like local government until I became a business owner. And so what are you kind of observing in terms of people who are like, I love this plant? I want the plan to change? And like how do you get them? Obviously, I think hence the name of one of your organization’s you know, informed Texans, like you are helping inform Texans, but kind of help us connect the dots of you know, someone who’s like, I want to get involved, but I don’t know how to get involved. I want the laws to change, but how do the laws actually get changed and, and knowing that we’re in a current legislative session, I definitely take the tune of you need to see what happens in these sessions. Before you can make any, you know, real judgments on what’s going to happen in the law. You know, you’re you represent a lot more, I think in the conversation. So you’re speaking very diplomatically about the MediCal program, but in my terms, it’s a little bit of a joke of a medical program. And so I have consumers who come into my retail shop and they’re like, I want to be legal, this and that. And I’m like, that’s great. I love that you love that. I love that you want that. But that’s not how things work. You don’t flip a switch. And all of a sudden, Texas is legalized and knowing what I’ve observed, again, through these conversations through my network, I don’t see Texas going into recreation until Texas has a proper medical program. And for my observation and proper medical program is not coming down this legislative session, it might come down the next two years. And so I’m curious one, I guess, on the advocacy level, how do people actually view that or get involved to actually make that change? And then to maybe what is the reality of what you’re observing with some of these, you know, things being petitioned and being put in front of these policymakers?
Jax Finkel 15:35
Yeah, well, you know, a big part of what we do is civics, civic education on how does it work in Texas, you know, I’m sure a lot of the people that you talk to, they’re like, Is there a petition, I can sign Can I, you know, no, that’s not how it works here, you know, Texas is one of about, you know, 19 to 20 states that don’t have a ballot initiative. And that’s where a person can go out and collect signatures to get something on the ballot. That’s just simply not how it works here. If you want to get something on the ballot, the way that you go through is a legislature or a legislator, excuse me has to author a joint resolution, it has to pass with super majorities out of both sides of the of the chambers. And then it gets sent to the Secretary of State where it gets put on whatever election, it’s in the statute that it wants it to be on. And then you have, you know, all these campaigns for and against, and then ultimately, the people vote on it. And then it goes back to the legislature for them to decide what that program should look like and Institute it. So it’s a very long process to do that. And we think that, you know, a bills to change the law will probably be easier than trying to go through that whole process, especially because it is an expensive process, whenever you get into the advertising. So first of all, people need to know that is your Texas State Representative and your Texas State Senator that basically makes every single decision for you about this. And so if you are not in contact with them, then you are not talking to the people who are making the decisions. And so making sure that you look up who represents you that you have a conversation with them that you build a relationship with them. We’ve been preaching this for a long time, and a lot of people have started to do that. But I’ll tell you starting to try to build a relationship in the middle of the session is just difficult, and you’re not probably going to be able to do it because they’re so busy. So that’s why these relationships matter so much more in advance, right. And we’re also close to the filing deadline. So you know, even if your legislator wanted to support you in like what your mission is, depending on you know, what, you know, topic you want to work on, they really don’t have much of an opportunity to do it, because time is running short now. So understanding the process helps empower people to be involved. But I think it’s also important to realize that everybody has a different level of what involved means for them. It might be that they just become a member of Texas normal support us monetarily, so that they can support the work that we’re doing, it might be that they want to create an organization in their area, and might be that they want to do lobbying up at the Capitol. So I think it’s people just kind of have to figure out what’s right for them. And so therefore, I definitely encourage people to get on to our email lists. So inform Texas and Texas normal both have email list, Texas, normal does more of like, if you’re more into like legislative action alerts, that’ll be where to go for that. And then more about like, specific educational content will be informed Texas. But you know, talking now, a little bit more about the appetite at the Capitol. You know, when I first started volunteering back in 2005, staffers did not take us seriously. And I recall them, you know, laughing at patients that I went and had meetings with, that’s not the case anymore. Now there is a misunderstanding at the Capitol where a lot of people are like, well, we already legalized medical marijuana. Why are you here again, you know, and they just don’t understand that. It is, in many cases, not even a recognized MediCal program. When you look at a lot of the, you know, what is the state of cannabis law in America, and you look at these state maps, you know, it’s not even really recognized. Now, this last session, they did include some more conditions. And what I appreciate is they actually also include some symptoms. And so muscle spasticity is a symptom. And so while that might seem like they just added one condition, well, how many conditions have muscle assess to see a lot, right? And then incurable neurodegenerative diseases was a brand new word. And so they had to define what does this mean? And you know, it’s interesting to me that a legislature can like create a new health term and then have to define it, but that’s what they had to do. And there’s, you know, over 100 conditions that fall underneath that, but your point is well taken that it’s still very limited. You know, there’s only a couple 1000 people in the program, and we really should see much more robust participation. I think one of the barriers is that THC issue as you’re talking about, the licensees have become really creative and trying to get around that And coming up with new products and being able to produce some one to one products. But, you know, their hands are tied as well. And so there’s a lot that I think both the licensees and advocates can like find common ground and work together on and I hope that we’re able to make some substantive change. You know, I think that last session, the lieutenant governor was saying that no cannabis bills would go through the Senate, he wouldn’t sign and none of it, he signed, he signed the hemp bill and he signed a medical expansion bill. Well, this time he is openly recognizing that medical needs to have some changes made and it has accepted that that will be happening. So it’s really just going to be where does that line fall? And, you know, there was a Senator, Senator Donna Campbell, who authored a bill. Ultimately, it’s not the bill that passed last session, but it would let doctors decide who could use cannabis. Now, I think she had the cap at 1%. So of course, we’d want to see that higher. But that’s the type of Texas mentality that I want the legislature to embrace, you know, this medical freedom of let doctors practice medicine with their patients and choose what is the best therapy for them to use, right. And also, Texans are very much about medical freedom, you know, my right to try whatever treatment I would like to try for my illness. And we absolutely agree that if you think cannabis in conjunction with your doctor, of course, it would be helpful for you than you should. But also we understand that cannabis is not for everybody. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. And it might be like with other prescriptions where you get a prescription and it didn’t work. So you have to try a couple more things before you find what works for you. Cannabis doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, as long as you’re not standing in the way of other people’s access, you know, and I do want to say that condition lists inevitably leave people behind because there’s no way that you can capture every single condition that might be benefited, because of a you know the individuality of a person’s body, but b also the endocannabinoid system having receptors throughout the body, it can interact with so many symptoms. So I definitely think medical cannabis will have changes the session. I don’t I don’t think the bill that’s going to pass has even been filed yet. To be honest with you. There are several more bills that are in the in the works. And just you know,
when you talk about what’s gonna pass, it’s not just about what’s good policy, it’s about who’s carrying the policy, who signs on to the policy, how have they, you know, negotiated this with everyone. So it’s a pretty complex decision. So at this point in time, we don’t have our quote unquote, priority legislation, we have highlighted legislation legislation that we think do does great things. So talking about decriminalization, you know, I think that with the conversations that are happening around, you know, social justice, the conversations that are going around budgeting, you know, people talking about just in general kind of ratcheting down these penalties broadly in Texas, that there’s real opportunity here, and there’s quite a few bills that are that are good for it, it’s just, we really want to see no more arrest records, we really want to see no loss of driver’s license. And we really want to see none of those collateral consequences. So there are a few bills that come very close to doing that some slight tweaks would need to be made to make that possible. And some of these offices are open to that. So we’re, we’re very hopeful on that as well. I’m talking about the retail market, we started to have the conversation like in, in seriousness, like last session, it has been a conversation point that people have made, as long as I’ve been, you know, working in this space, but talking about it being like really seriously being discussed, not as like, oh, did you bring me some bought brownies? You know, like being more serious. I think that this session, with there being several really thoughtful bills put forward and with the not only budgetary shortfall from the pandemic, but now the issues surrounding the winter storms, I do think that they’re going to be looking for anything that has a positive fiscal note. Does that mean that I think it’ll pass the session, you know, I always try to stay optimistic, and I’m going to work like it’s gonna pass this session. But in all reality, sometimes it takes about three sessions of having a conversation about the type of legislation for it to pass, if not more. So I do think that there’s opportunity, the session for it to pass is going to take a lot of work on our behalf to get it done and the people out there and the businesses that want to see this happen, but I think that next time around is a lot more likely to happen, which that would be 2023 that I’m talking about. So that’s just kind of a high level. You know, look at that. If anybody is interested, you can go and click and click on our websites and watch our workshops about this where we go like in detail about the legislative process and all of that.
Shayda Torabi 24:54
They’re very thorough, I remember joining like I kind of was mentioning I decided to transitioned into obviously, like more of an advocacy role when I went into public facing company meaning of the Republic company, but I now own a cannabis brand in the state of Texas. And it benefits me to understand what the hell is going on and how these, these nebulous things like legalization actually impact me and how those laws actually get influenced and changed. And it was really exciting to get to be at the Capitol and get to learn from y’all and get the opportunity of walking into some of these offices and just kind of connecting the dots further while also being confronted with the reality that it is a very slow moving process. And so I think that’s where most people have this idea of what legalization looks like, not really realizing the the long tail of time and conversations and networking and repeated notice of these points that has to happen. Now, what I’m a little curious about, in terms of some of the way that Texas is currently structured, I’d be curious if you have, you know, any insight, which I’m sure you do, but what the insight is will be the interesting part, you know, so legislative sessions decided that hemp was legal in Texas, but now we have the Department of safety and health services, I believe is what dishes stands for
Jax Finkel 26:24
Department of State Health Services. Yeah. State Health
Shayda Torabi 26:26
Services. Thank you. They are regulating cannabis in Texas from a retail perspective, kind of I mean, they’re the ones in my opinion, who are behind the smokeable ban,
Jax Finkel 26:37
the human consumables, so anything that is like a gummy a tincture? You know those things? Yes, that they have oversight over that everything else falls underneath the Texas Department of Agriculture, agriculture, right?
Shayda Torabi 26:51
So are is the Texas ag the people who are changing the smoking laws? Or is it a dishes enforcement of that,
Jax Finkel 27:01
so I forget exactly who the representation for the state is off the top of my head right now, I apologize. But it is a dishes rule that the lawsuit is over. So in the legislation, it said that they didn’t want to have any manufacturing of smokeable items. This is extrapolated that that meant that also you can’t sell them. And so that has made a lot of uproar. Now, let me be clear, smokeable items is not loose flour, this is going to be like pre rolls, cartridges, stuff like that. And so there is currently a lawsuit and they will be having their next hearing sometime this month. I want to say it’s on the 22nd.
Shayda Torabi 27:48
I heard it’s like yeah, March 22, March 23.
Jax Finkel 27:51
Yeah. And you know, so far, the judge has said that, you know, people have been selling these already. And so they can continue to sell these things until this lawsuit is resolved. Having watched the proceedings, I feel like the companies that are filing suit have some good standing. I do feel like it was a bit of an overreach for them to extrapolate that though I can, you know, I’m not blind to the, to their logic of logic, quote, unquote, that they’re using there. But I think that, you know, this goes kind of to some greater feelings in Texas. So last session, the age for consuming tobacco products went from 18 to 21. Right, so there’s just this air and feeling of being anti smoking anything, right. And, to me, that’s not very Texan. I mean, I’m not like, Hey, you should go smoke everything, you know, but to me, you know, telling a person and controlling what a person can and cannot use, I mean, it becomes where you’re overly regulating your population. And in essence, this could also cause a lot of issues for a lot of businesses that are out there, whenever you take some of the more popular items off of the shelf. You know, a lot of people like the pre rolls, they liked it, it’s just ready to go. A lot of people like the cartridge, you know. And so I think that this is going to be an important an important hearing coming up. I’m not sure if it’s the final one for the final decision. I’d have to double check, but I’m hopeful that the smokeable retail ban will be lifted. And I’m hopeful that the manufacturing issue will be fixed statutorily this session because it’s just simply keeping Texans out of a market. I mean, so then I just go online and I buy a pre roll from an out of state place and they mail it to me ship it from out of state exactly, you know,
Shayda Torabi 29:53
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast, restart CBD is A brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas, we operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store. And you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm. Again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt, I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode, which is what I’m kind of observing is happening knowing I try to be as educated as possible, both about the industry at large as well as how, you know my local government is operating in regards to the laws that I have put in front of me. But I think it’s very confusing and difficult for this industry to be progressing. When there’s so many different moving pieces. So it feels you have dishes regulating you obviously have the legislative session happening every two years do you then have these companies discovering loopholes, essentially, I mean, it hurts my heart as a marketer. And as a business owner, who genuinely has personally seen the benefit of cannabis in my life, wanting to help educate consumers, Texans on the benefits of cannabis. And my legal counsel is telling me just say it’s non smokeable for loose bud or let’s get creative in packaging. And so it’s like, what will What are we actually fighting? What is actually being changed? What is the narrative? Is it to try to find a quick fix in the interim, so we can continue to sell products? Or is it ultimately like are these things I guess I’m wondering out loud, actually leading us to legalization does us challenging the state on smokeable bands actually leading us to better legalization? Or is it hurting us and hurting the narrative? For better or worse?
Jax Finkel 31:50
I don’t know that I would say that it’s hurting the narrative. You know, right now, a big facet of the conversation is business growth and job growth. And the fact of the matter is, is that hemp is doing that, you know, so I don’t I don’t think that it’s necessarily a hindrance. But it’s one of those things where you have to kind of understand what people’s issues are and try to work around it. You know, I guarantee you that any changes to the to the MediCal program is not going to lift that smokeable restriction, you know, and I think that it’s also people who aren’t, maybe well versed cannabis scholars and advocacy people, policy people, or aren’t medical professionals making law, right. And so they may be making a law that makes sense to them. But in real practice, it does not make sense. And so, you know, when the MediCal program started, a lot of people were like, why is the Department of Public Safety, aka the sheriff’s in charge of the medical cannabis program? And I understand that concern, you know, although I think what a lot of people didn’t realize is that DPS is in charge of already the prescription Rolodex, if you will, to make sure that these drugs are being prescribed properly, and people aren’t overly abusing them, right. So like, whenever you go to the pharmacy to pick up whatever prescription you have, and they take your driver’s license, that’s to make sure that you’re in the system, right. And so they were wanting to kind of do the same. And then, you know, taking what’s been considered an illicit drug, you know, into this market, or into this, you know, new phase, I think they just felt that they were the right agency to do it. I definitely think that, you know, Department of State Health Services, that sure would have been a good a good oversight organization as well. But I think one of the things that you mentioned, you know, its regulatory advocacy, so not only is it important for, you know, consumers and business owners to be engaged in what’s happening at the Capitol, because it affects either your business and or the products you can access, but the regulatory regulators are just as important. You know, when that bill comes out through the session, during that interim regulators are working on that non stop, and that’s, you know, the legislation is kind of like the skeleton, and the regulations are like the muscles and skin. And so a lot gets done, and regulation and regulation is where, you know, our what I consider to be an overreach happened with this retail ban. And there was a lot of conversation about it and a lot of hearings to be had about it. And, you know, this is still where we are. So I think that the lawsuit hopefully will resolve that issue. And you know, whenever people are talking about smoking cannabis, I just like to remind everybody that vaporizing flour is you know, one of the safer uptake methods. I just hosted a cannabis and pain seminar where we talk about uptake methods and vaporized flower is one of the number one things that he said in addition to you know, edibles
Shayda Torabi 34:56
on that topic, what are some of the topics that you You are both observing are important not only to the consumers in Texas, but also to these, you know, regulatory offices, you know, are we speaking the same language in terms of people care about, you know, having access to their medicine? Is it veterans with cannabis? Is it you know, the types of I saw that you’ll have a educational seminar coming up on concentrates, helping people understand concentrates? I’m curious what is kind of that breadth of of areas of focus that you’re seeing, and that’s where you’re focusing on.
Jax Finkel 35:35
So there’s, in addition to just the things that we talked about, you know, the penalty reduction idea, the medical cannabis idea, the retail market idea, there’s, I mean, there’s so many policies that cannabis touches. So one of the things that is being worked on and drafted on is testing. So people who are state employees get tested THC is one of those items. And so unfairly, there continued to be test for THC, when technically they have legal access to over the counter hemp products that have THC, and therefore would show up in that in that test. And so our argument is that why are we continuing to waste money on this, then why is THC included, and that it should be removed? Because there has been directives from you know, like police departments and stuff telling their people not to use these hemp products? Let me tell you, first responders are exposed to a lot of traumatic stuff. And CBD and hemp products can help with that, you know, especially since PTSD is not included as a condition right now. So that’s an important conversation, the workplace drug testing, right? Texas is an at will state so you can’t really say like businesses can’t drug test. But if the state’s not doing it, it loses a lot of its power. Right. And so why would people be spending money on it? I do think that it’s important to note that one caveat that would probably be, you know, excluded from that is commercial driver’s licenses, you know, they’re tested for everything they cannot be driving while they are intoxicated. So that’s an important conversation to have. And then the concentrates. Like you mentioned, a lot of people don’t realize that that nice, cute little vapes that you’ve got from wherever and drove home with is the first degree state jail felony, one little tiny drop of it. And the sad thing is, is that concentrates are typically what patients find, is easier for them to consume for their issues, right? Because it’s a concentrated and edible, a concentrated Assaf a concentrated as a tincture. It’s anything that’s not the flour. In fact, back in the day when they were trying to, you know, were hard on crime, they would take you know, the key thing, your grinder if it had one of those keys, catches, know what you manufactured this keys now. And now that’s hash, and that’s the concentrate. Yeah, and so not not great. So having those conversations, I really am unsure of what’s going to happen with with concentrates. There’s a lot of work, as I mentioned previously, to just in general ratchet down a lot of the criminal consequences for for different things. So I’m hopeful that that will, that will be included, there are some bills that have wrapped together, decriminalization and concentrate penalty reduction. So what I would love to see is, like one big bill that addresses all the issues, so they could just talk about it once, you know.
Shayda Torabi 38:26
Cuz, at the same time have the conversation together, let’s address all of it. But yes, my observation, it just seems so like, there’s like the main issues, and there’s all these fringe issues that like you identified are a part of it. And it’s just like, okay, so maybe we talked about this one thing, but then it has this implication, and we didn’t address that implication. So it just leaves a lot of things still very loose. And on the table, which is where I’m seeing some businesses from a retail side, take advantage of it. Um, you know, I got promoted a brand the other week, and it was like edibles, you’ll feel and it’s an Austin based company, and I’m not going to say their name, but you look at their formulation. And the reason you feel their gummies is because it actually has two and a half milligrams of THC. And I’m like, how is that legal? And then they get into the concentration of the ratio of it and it’s like, Okay, I’m smart. I’m kind of tracking I actually still don’t think that’s legal maybe and I’ve kind of floated the conversation to a few people and I’ve heard kind of all over the map and not that I’m looking for you to be like yeah, that is or that isn’t but more so just the law is is crafted in such a way that there’s obviously loopholes, and so people are taking advantage of the loopholes getting away with it because even though we have dishes regulating nobody’s actually enforced regulation maybe there’s a we’re still in the buffer time zone. Obviously, pandemic in the winter storm don’t help but I’ve heard there’s only like three cannabis. regulators have dishes and you have the whole state of Texas to enforce. And you have all these retailers selling. And it’s like, I know what I’m going through, I can only imagine what all these other people are going through. Taking advantage of the circumstances, especially with things like Delta eight, making a quick buck selling things out. I was just on a podcast talking about Delta eight, I’m sure you saw the recent New York Times article highlighting an Austin, Texas based company. And they explicitly say, we found a loophole. And then they say, well, as long as it’s derived from, you know, non Delta nine. And as long as it’s this and that I’m thinking, all the all the testing companies I talked to, they tell me that you can’t decipher how it was actually derived or created. So you have these things being put in place that are kind of like stopgaps, but there’s actually no way to truly check or enforce. And I’m like, Whoa, what’s happening? What
Jax Finkel 40:54
are we doing? I mean, you’re talking, you’re talking about an intrinsic issue, whenever you get the government in regulation, right. That’s an intrinsic issue, right. And so that’s why, to me, what’s important is consumer protections. If you consume something, it should be a what’s on the bottle, it should be be safe for you to consume. And see, you should have some sort of recourse if amb, went wrong. Right. And so to me, that is, the role of these people is if something is fraudulent or harmful, that that’s when they step in. And, you know, we saw in Corpus Christi, allegedly, company down there was selling, you know, for forfeiture for what is the word that I’m looking for? counterfeit, excuse me, they were selling counterfeit cookies cartridges, claiming that it was Delta nine inside of it, and they got raided and busted for it. And people are like, Oh, see, it’s bad people in the market. And I’m like, actually, this is exactly what they’re there to do is to protect us from that. So someone reported that and they took action on it. You know, that being said, there’s always going to be people in the market that play well, and people in the market that don’t play well. And I think that eventually, that works itself, you know, out. And I think let’s harken back to you know, just 2018 I mean, I had him companies arguing with me all the time that their products are legal. And I’m like, Who told you? Well, this one guy, well, this one guy is trying to sell you a product, bro. It’s not legal. I mean, like, grown like women, old ladies. Were using it for arthritis and getting pulled over with their CBD stuff and be like, Oh, it’s CBD. it’s legal. They’re like, No, it’s not. It’s not. It wasn’t technically legal in Texas until, you know, the farm bill passed. And it was moved down to in the schedule in March. So technically, it was March of 2019, that hemp really became legal, but people were talking about being illegal in all 50 states beforehand. So I just want to say there’s a lot of people that like to, you know, say that they found a loophole, and they may not have. And if they did find a loophole? Well, let’s talk about why is that loophole there, it’s because we don’t have a robust retail market, because we’re relegating our retail market to hemp only products. And so I mean, that’s the issue is that these things were not addressed. So for example, last session, we were saying, you know, you got to address him, you got to address medical, and you got to address penalty reduction, because when hemp becomes legal, you’re not going to be able to just use smell, you’re not going to be able to just say, Oh, it looks like cannabis. So it has the illegal amount of THC. Well, they chose not to do the penalty reduction and look at what happened, all these unintended consequences. So it’s also people listening to those of us that have been working on this. And us learning from people in other states. It’s very, you know, complex and complicated. But this is also an area where businesses can stand out and can and can really make a difference. A, you know, make sure that you have reputable lawyers giving you good information, and maybe get a second opinion if it sounds too good to be true. But be you know, in addition to trying to just be a good business, making sure that you’re connecting with those in the advocacy realm, because your business isn’t going to grow if the cannabis space isn’t growing in Texas, you know. And it’s not because I want to have some amazing company. I don’t want to run a cannabis company. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in being a cannabis consumer and a cannabis consumer advocate. You know, but I know that those businesses are key. And there have been some long standing Texas businesses that have helped our organizations year after year. And those are good players trying to do the right thing and trying to make sure that there’s harm reduction, you know, so it’s a two edged sword. And, you know, we all have to be kind of responsible for ourselves. And I think in the business arena, it’s going to be very important for these good actors. to not let people who are opportunistic and not actually looking out for the long term to hurt our potential and our possibilities. And also, you know, when we see stuff like what happened in Corpus Christi, change the narrative. Yeah, that person did the wrong thing. And look what happened. Exactly what you would want to happen. You know, you we don’t tell doctors that they can’t prescribe opioids, because they’re pill doctors, pill Mills out there, you know, there are infrastructures and ways to try to deal with that.
Shayda Torabi 45:32
No, I think that’s a really fair point. Because I do think there’s a little bit of a knee jerk reaction when any type of you know, media gets involved with these stories. And obviously, from a narrative perspective, bad press sometimes does not help the narrative. And so I think that you have a lot of people who, myself included, who, especially with the Corpus Christi thing, it was like, Oh, my gosh, look, they’re coming after people. Do we have all of our T’s crossed, the i’s dotted and, and I think you made a really fair point of No, there were there are bad actors. And these laws are put in place to eliminate and protect the consumer, which is truly what I want as as a business operating in this space, who is trying to do everything, according to everything you outlined, you know, making sure you’re getting these things reviewed, properly tested properly, you have as best an understanding as possible of the law, and you are involved in the organizations that are helping to advocate so that you can have a piece of you know, the conversation represented, but you mentioned, you know, kind of observing what’s happening in other states. I very vividly remember the Austin Chronicle making an article about Texas and cannabis where it was like Texas, all your neighbors are, you know, legalizing, and like, What the fuck are you guys doing? And, and watching what Oklahoma has just done? Watching kind of what Florida is doing? Are you energized excited about that? I I hear obviously, two sides of every story. And so one, I hope that Texas sees those things and is like, hey, Oklahoma just legalized, it wasn’t so bad. Maybe we could legalize too, but at the same time, knowing that every state has not really done it great. And there’s a lot that we need to learn from these states. Like maybe you should have some limitations on licenses, but also maybe, hey, don’t require vertical integration. So I as a text, and I’m like, watching these things happen. I’m like, Oh, shit, I don’t know how Texas is gonna go. So legalization has obviously taken a much broader definition for myself, and people like me in the industry,
Jax Finkel 47:36
it’s a hard thing to kind of put your finger on and pin it down. Sure. It’s like a moving target that is constantly moving. And so I mean, I just have to stay optimistic. You know, whenever I first started volunteering in the cannabis realm, I was like, cannabis is cool, you know? And that was like, awesome. And then I started kind of like, Oh, my God, all the my friend just got arrested. Oh, my God, what is he going through? Oh, well, this guy that I know that paraplegic, gets extreme relief. And it just be it became more than that to me, right? until it becomes more than that to everyone. There’s going to be issues. And so I think we have to get back into that kind of like, personal responsibility and freedom narratives that Texas loves. Listen, you need to be responsible for your person, you know, like, are you driving while under the influence? That’s not okay. But if you’re consuming stuff as a grown person, that’s your prerogative. Right. And so just continuing to push those conversations and continuing to build support at a broad base. You know, we have a coalition that we work with, it’s like 25 ish organizations that span the political spectrum, and trying to prevent it from becoming divisive. You know, in Texas, we’ve done a really good job of trying to keep people united and not, you know, cannibalizing ourselves. And I think we have to continue to work on that I’m starting to see marijuana, especially in DC being used as a partisan dividing rod. And I think that that is toxic. And I hope that doesn’t trickle down here to Texas, because the fact of the matter is, is that a good public policy, it’s good business. It’s, you know, all of these things, and looking at job growth, right, if we want to have business and job growth, compared to some of these other states, like Texas could do really well. But I think it’s also important to realize that Texas is not other states, and don’t you dare compare us to them. So, I think we will do it a little different. And clearly, we have been doing it a little different. You know, it’s strange to have medical and hemp markets available before decriminalization has happened, which is very different than we’ve seen in other states, but the other states were all ballot initiative driven and we are legislator driven. And that is just Difficulty there.
Shayda Torabi 50:01
Yeah, I think that is a fair statement to make of just, it’s, it’s constantly moving and it is hard to pin it down. It is something that I hope the listeners, you know, take to heart in terms of, you know, you can want and preach legalization, but actually, you know, rolling your sleeves up to some extent, whether that’s financial involvement, or physical involvement, investing time, money, resources, these conversations don’t just flip overnight, and it is taking, you know, the culmination of many years to get to this point. And so I don’t take anything lightly. Obviously, a lot of the work you’re doing, I’m very, like, I respect because I know that it’s, it’s needed, and it might move it, you know, an inch forward, it might move it a mile forward, but we’re moving forward, I do believe that, and I’m grateful to get to hear your perspective, because I do think I’ve become a little cynical, just, you know, you you get the excitement, you see how free it is to buy weed in California, but then I start having these conversations with my friends in the industry. And I’m like, California has a lot to learn the industry is not all, you know, roses and daisies, and there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, even in the legalized states, that that’s where I tried to reflect back and just think, you know, what are we dealing with in Texas, what is in our control what is out of our control what our observations and so,
Jax Finkel 51:29
and for your people in Texas, you know, what you can do at the local level is really reach out to your DBAs and your sheriff’s and your police departments and really talk to them about site and summons, this has been an opportunity available to them all the way since back in 2007. And only, you know, about two dozen people or cities have opted into that. So pushing that conversation at the local level, you know, it can be confusing for people because in some place, you’re not even going to get messed with and in other places, you’re going to get arrested. But ultimately, it continues to put pressure at the Capitol and continues to create a harm reduction in your area where people are not being penalised as much. So there are things that you can do locally whenever session is not in, you know, happening. And as I said, regulatory, I’m sure you followed, we were posting all the hemp updates about the hearings and the this and that and testimony opportunities, and you know, these are going to continue. And if you want to be involved you can be and the level to which you want to be involved is up to you, whether it’s you know, basic donation and membership or really, really working in advocating for it. But you know, to the business owners out there, I would just say that, you know, in Texas, there is a very big cannabis community, and they are watching what businesses are doing around this and seeing are they you know, sponsoring events, you know, to help this or they donating towards these organizations. And it matters to them, you know, maybe not 100% of them, but it matters to a lot of them, you know what these businesses they’re doing. So I think that good businesses tend to be transparent about that stuff already. And so I think that that’ll play out well, for those that are continuing to do the work here.
Shayda Torabi 53:14
On that know, for people listening, specifically in Texas, I mean, you mentioned, you know, being able to reach out to some of these different police forces and organizations, knowing that your organization’s produce and help, you know, kind of create the path for people to get involved. It still is daunting, I mean, even for myself knowing I get all the emails, I sign up for them, I mean, the thing with COVID, it’s obviously turned virtual. So in one way, it’s become easier to show up to these meetings. And in some ways, it’s become harder, because I’m like, I just want to show up with people and, you know, networking Connect. But it still is really overwhelming, I think. And so I would just, you know, love to kind of close out with if anybody’s listening and they want to get involved what is, you know, Jack’s his suggestion to do that?
Jax Finkel 54:00
Sure. Well, first of all, I just want to reflect that, it is daunting, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed, sometimes. Sometimes I feel down about it. But ultimately, I can see that I’m making an impact. And that what are what the work that we’re doing is is making an impact. And I think that that’s important. So to any of you people that are feeling a little down, I want you to just take those expectations, lower a little bit, show yourself some compassion, and just do what you can, right. When we are overwhelmed with so many things. We can’t do them all, but we can do some of them. And so what I would say is go to Texas normal.org and oh RML Texas, all spelled out and informed texas.org and sign up for our email list on Texas normal.org. You’ll also see a tab with the 87th legislature. You can click there you can see all the bills that have been filed. There’s some action alerts there you can submit testimony if you’d like we do put together testimony binders for the committee’s and you know join And become a member. And whenever we send out the emails, you know, open the ones that gym time floor, take the actions you have time for. And if you can’t, you know, we understand, but sharing it through your networks, making sure that your force multiplier, that’s really important. And I would say just in this type of situation that we’re in right now, making sure that you’re just really approaching things in a thoughtful, and supportive way. Because things are hard enough, you know, we don’t, we don’t need to tear each other down. During this time, we really have to be with each other, building each other up building this foundation and continuing to build upon that. So I would just say it’s a mindset thing, too, you know, we’ve all got to just kind of work as hard as we can, right now get as much as we can, you know, it’s 140 days, but as a sprint, but then, you know, we have this longer marathon that is, you know, getting to this end goal. And I think on your call, probably a lot of people are very supportive of legalization new poll just said 60% of Texans support it. And so I would say that, that’s great. But meet your friends and neighbors where they’re at. If they’re just open to medical right now. That’s okay. That’s okay. They can continue along with us if they want or if medicals, where they get off the you know, the bus stop, that’s alright. But if we can work together on common ground, you know, that’s going to be the most important way to success. Wow, what
Shayda Torabi 56:33
an incredible episode from Jax, I really, truly am honored and appreciative of being able to have had a conversation with her like this for the podcast, as well as just be in the Texas community that she runs these organizations. And because it’s really overwhelming for myself included, you know, how do you get involved? How do you speak up? What is the right way to do something? I don’t think that, you know, these are easy conversations to be having with local government and officials. And yet they’re really important conversations to be having. And so anybody in any organization that helps you better navigate how you can advocate for this plant at a local and state government level is really critical in the cannabis, legalization and decriminalization conversation. So whether you’re in Texas or not, I hope that this gave you some, you know, encouragement and ways to think about ways that you can be more involved or you can be involved if you’re not involved already. And that’s all my hope is, is just that we can start to, you know, lean into these conversations in any way that we can. And so, thank you again to Jack’s for joining the show. Thank you to the listener for tuning in and being curious about these topics. My aim is to always empower you with resources and information so that you can make some decisions on how you want to proceed. So thanks for listening to another episode of The to be blonde podcast. I’m signing off and I’ll be back next Monday with a another new episode. Thanks, y’all. Take care. Love this
episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda torabi.com slash to be loved for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at V Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai