The Cannabis Industry Is Not Created Equal (Podcast Transcript)

Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast we published last Wednesday with Stormy Simon. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast, embedded below, if you need any clarification. We hope you enjoy!

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Rena Sherbill: Welcome again to The Cannabis Investing Podcast, where we speak with C-level executives, scientists and law and sector experts to provide actionable investment insight and the context with which to understand the burgeoning cannabis industry. I’m your host, Rena Sherbill.

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the show. It’s great to have you listening with us. Today, we have Stormy Simon on the show, and anyone paying attention to the state of the world knows that we need all the positivity and hope we can muster, and all the energy we can muster to keep on fighting for the change that we’ve talked about so much on this podcast.

And Stormy Simon, who worked herself up from a temp to President of Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK), then left that business, became active in the cannabis industry, was a Board member of High Times, was CEO for a period of time at High Times talks to us about that today. And then her journey into politics, where she’s currently running for Utah’s State House of Representatives. And in this election season, it’s incumbent upon all citizens to be aware and informed and I hope this conversation builds some of that knowledge and furthers our knowledge and our understanding of cannabis as a plant, as a medicine, deepens our understanding of what plant based medicine can be as opposed to synthetics.

And Stormy also gets into a great topic, which is blockchain and the potential for disruption not only in the cannabis industry but in all industries really, and shares her insights, as she has some background in the blockchain field gives us a great explanation and some insight into what that can bring.

In general just a great timely conversation when I really enjoyed a fellow podcaster, so we had a fun conversation. I hope you guys enjoy it too. And I hope everybody is as always doing well out there, staying healthy, and of course, keeping well. Hope everybody’s well out there.

And before we begin a brief disclaimer. Nothing on this podcast should be taken as investment advice of any sort. And in my model cannabis portfolio I’m long, Trulieve, Khiron, GrowGeneration, Curaleaf, Vireo Health and Isracann BioSciences. You can subscribe to us on Libsyn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

Stormy welcome to The Cannabis Investing Podcast. Happy to have you on this show. Thanks so much for joining us.

Stormy Simon: Thank you for having me.

RS: So, talk to us, the first question that I typically ask guests is how they got to the cannabis world, but you’re a multi hyphenate. So, I don’t want to limit you to just the cannabis world. Talk to listeners about where you’re at and your journey here.

SS: Yeah, it’s been quite the ride. I left a very successful career in e-commerce at overstock.com, where I spent 15 years, literally starting at the bottom and climbing to the top for cannabis. Participating in an industry like e-commerce which had not really been done when I started at Overstock, but was just getting started and we defined it and how it worked and different procedures and policies and all of the things that it is today, way back when I started there in 2001.

So over the course of 15 years, a lot happened. In the beginning, it was people were afraid to put in their credit cards. And by the end, they were saving their cards and realized how safe it was. And it was an amazing journey. And what I loved about it was the idea of going in every day where something hadn’t been developed and you really didn’t know what the rules were going to be or what the rules really are. You made them as you went along.

And when cannabis started becoming medicinal illegal, and then, adult usage started hitting in and when Colorado approved that, I was so curious as to what that would look like. We all remember the history of the prohibition with alcohol and how the United States came out of that. And I saw something similar, and I couldn’t — I didn’t have any idea what would happen or how this journey would go.

Not just for me, but for the cannabis plant in the industry. And curiosity got me. I left overstock and moved to Denver to join a very small operation with medicinal only dispensaries and a pretty large cultivation warehouse to start learning about the plant. And that was the first step into cannabis was really at the ground level again.

So from there, I became familiar with the journey of a plant from seed to sale, till it lands into a patient’s hands. And that opened my eyes, it opened my eyes up to how important the plant might be in our medical world, in our medical field, which then opened my eyes to why hasn’t it been available the entire time? And why hasn’t science been moving this forward?

I started meeting patients and mothers of six children, and people who had been making oils in their basement and really spreading the medicine around the best that they could in an environment that was strictly illegal. And that changed my heart and changed my mind a little bit as to what I thought I would be doing in the cannabis industry.

RS: What did you think you would be doing?

SS: I thought I would be going for the box. There was a piece of me that thought, this is going to happen but in a state-by-state regulated union, there’s so many, there’s 50 different ways that cannabis can be legalized in the States right now, 51 counting DC.

The idea that we still federally haven’t made decisions or laws or had banking be accessible, is still quite surprising. The idea that science is being done in silos versus spread widely across the nation is also surprising. And very importantly, is the fact that we are selling this plant both adult use and medicinal while people are still in jail for non-violent uses or for cannabis.

RS: Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot to reckon with in this industry. The episode we just released talks, I mean, to your point about number one, your curiosity and the parallels you drew with prohibition. And the fact that prohibition was repealed after the Great Depression, which is kind of very similar to the times we’re finding ourselves in now when all of a sudden Cannabis even where it’s not legal is somehow or where it’s legal, but not federally, it’s essential and has just made such strides there.

And yet, at the same time, exactly what you’re saying, we had Kim Rivers talking about how cannabis is essential and yet, you can’t get access to normal banking procedure, which is insane and infuriating and heartbreaking is, all the talk about what’s happening in or what hasn’t happened in terms of the justice that hasn’t been handed down in the industry. So, you came in thinking that you were going to be going for the business side of things, and kind of slowly realized, there’s a lot of work to be done to fix some of these inequalities.

SS: Yeah, the industry is not created equal. And it’s not created equal, because 50 states don’t have access to it in the US, and people sit in jail, which is insane. We’ve deemed it essential. We are taxing these businesses outrageously. They’re jumping through loopholes that most industries don’t have to jump through. And we’re still paying taxes to keep people in prison over it.

So it’s complicated. There’s parts of it that are shameful. And it’s important that, we continue those of us who are advocates or activists for this plant and also social equality, continue to have the conversation and continue to push it forward. That’s how movements happened.

And the movement of acknowledging the damage that has been done as a nation has been done because of this plant, and the outrageousness that it was labeled as Schedule 1 drug, all has to be I think you said reckoned with and it really does, it has to be reckoned with. We have to continue to fight forward. There’s so much money in it right now.

And there’s a big scramble for that. I’ve spoken at events where I become quite unpopular, because of my statements regarding that. Those folks in the room that are building these organizations or creating extreme wealth, while their board of directors or their executive team has no women, no one of color is, it’s not acceptable in today’s day and age, and it’s absolutely not acceptable in regards to this plant.

RS: So talk to me about what you’re doing now?

SS: Well, right now it’s taken me, I’m on quite a spin. I have decided to run for Utah House — Utah State House of Representatives in the district I grew up in. Yes, I never thought I would be a politician. But I give credit to the plant for opening my eyes to some of the bureaucracy of our government, and also the way decisions have been made in the past.

I can sit back and complain about all of the things that I’d like to change, or what I decided to do is raise my hand and get involved at a level that I hope can make a difference. It’s a state government. And I live in a very republican state, where in my particular office, a Democrat, which I’ve recently affiliated with has not held the seat for 10 years, and it has been 30 years since a woman has.

So it’s quite an uphill battle. But it’s one I’m ready to take on. So that’s where what I’m focused on right now. I also recently released a podcast called Lunch with Stormy, where I have guests on that have reinvented themselves as I have, and chose to live many lives versus one long career, no matter how successful it was.

RS: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, my circle of friends and I talk about this a lot how in the past generations, it’s been that one long career, but we’re now looking at life I think from a different lens and exactly what you’re describing.

I mean, first of all, I’m reminded of to paraphrase what I think is a great Margaret Mead quote, “Never underestimate the power that a group of committed citizens can accomplish. That’s the only thing that’s ever changed anything”, that is a total paraphrasing. But I’ve always loved that. And so, kudos to you for kind of taking that and doing something with it and honoring kind of the place that we’re in, I think in the world, which is one of the ability to adapt and change.

And I think a lot of people in the cannabis world are coming from different sectors, different industries, entirely different professions, and finding something that resonates with them about the plant, and then pushes them to either be activist or in your case, taking to the political world, which is never an easy world to acclimate to. What are your main kind of points that you’re running on?

SS: Well, in the state of Utah, we rank number one, in regards to the gender pay gap. So we have the largest gender pay gap in the United States. That’s something that has to be looked at, addressed and changed. The second thing is, we spend the least amount per pupil of any states. That has to be looked at, and understood for me.

And I need to understand why that is to be score very well, but it’s something to pay attention to. Education is what’s going to get us through. 20 years from now, these are the people that are going to be running the country, or maybe 40, maybe 50 years from now. But it’s very important.

The other thing that happens in Utah is, we have a super majority. We have a very republican legislature and government. And it’s difficult, I believe there’s a 104 seats, could be a 106 seats in our legislature, 17 are held by women. It’s important that we as individuals and in this case, as a woman stepped forward and begin participating at a level.

Maybe I don’t win this election, but I could win next. Most importantly, I could inspire 10 women or people who may feel a stigma as I have in the State of Utah, because I’m such a cannabis activist and advocate. But I was a part of a change. I was a part of spreading a message that was considered a stigma to subculture. And being a part of that, and knowing how people can move it forward, we have to step up to move other things forward.

So I have issues regarding the State. And then overarching, would like to inspire people that didn’t identify as a politician. When I look at the Utah State Legislature, I’m not sure I look visually, while I am sure, I don’t look visually like them. But as a U.S. citizen, as a person with a voice, opinion, and I was going to say, aggressiveness to get things done, but maybe that’s the wrong word.

The attitude to get things done, I know that I can be a part of that. And the more we raise our hands for change, the more it changes, whether you win or whether you lose, but it’s very important right now to participate.

RS: Yeah, absolutely. How did you decided like, once you get to Colorado and you’re looking to be a part of the cannabis world, what made you — you could have, I guess, looked at trying to change just the cannabis world from within. What made you want to broaden your scope and take on more issues and get into politics?

SS: When I joined the cannabis industry, there wasn’t a lot of people like me at that time. It was in 2016, I believe I was one of the first public company executives to step down and step in. It wasn’t a popular idea amongst my peers and colleagues at that time. And that’s a tough question.

All I can say is, it opened my eyes. It opened my eyes to some of their bureaucracy or the captured pieces of government, where the 1% is actually created there and held there. The reasons for cannabis being taken out of the hands of citizens, and put in the hands of corporations, or taken out of the hands of certain corporations back in the ’30s, were all corporate political reasons.

It wasn’t because there was something bad that happened or somebody died from consumption of the plant, it wasn’t any of those things. It was absolutely for corporate reasons. Has all of that coughed out of our system as a government? I don’t think it has, I don’t think it has and that, that may not be a popular idea for some, but if we are living in a country that has been created for or founded for everyone to be equal, then those are things we have to address.

We can’t be doing favors for people. We have to be doing what’s best for the greater good. And even as I say things like that, I think, Oh my gosh, you now sound like a politician. However, I do believe that many people enter this arena with the idea of making something better. And I’m going to enter it for the same reasons, the idea of making something better, or get my hands bloody by trying.

Just you’ve got to dig in, we have to understand the way things work here and in the state of COVID and the state of everybody’s country. It’s really important that, citizens band together and starting at a local level is where I decided to start. There’s probably I should thank the cannabis plant, I should thank the industry for opening my eyes to the need for people like us to run for state government, run for your city council, run for federal government, if that’s something that you’re interested in.

But at the end of the day, if we all sit still, we’re just going to get more of the same.

RS: Could not agree more, Amen, Amen to that message. And yeah, I think if you feel compelled to serve, however you feel compelled to serve exactly what you’re saying at the local level, at the federal level, but even more local than local government, you can serve in other ways.

I think it’s very inspiring. And I like to echo that message as much as possible. And I find myself like, you’re talking about this COVID era that we find ourselves in I think it’s pushing a lot of people who were apathetic to a degree to kind of you have to wake up, open your eyes, and put your feet on the ground and do something because too much is happening around us that I think, a lot of people have known about to some degree.

But the things that are happening right now as we’re all sitting around screens I think affects more need for change. And I think what’s happening because of COVID and governments and police and all these laws that are being enacted while we’re sleeping, really important I think to stay awake. So, kudos to you for taking that leap.

So talk to me a little bit about Utah, I don’t know much about their relationship to cannabis. What is the cannabis kind of what is the community there look like or what’s the general consensus there?

SS: Well, it is medicinally legal, and that is a win for the State of Utah. Very happy our prop passed a couple years ago. The people voted for the proposition and afterwards the government, the church, and some organizations — lobbyist organizations got together and compromise the law just a little bit. I’m not going to complain about that.

The biggest step that we could take as a state was getting it available for patients. I would like to see the ailment list extended a little bit. I would like wish that, all of our licenses had gone to Utah Agriculturalists, were an amazing state for agriculture. We — yet some of the license went out of Staters, but I still can’t complain.

We’re a very conservative state. And cannabis has been painted for decades in as fear, something to be afraid of, something to be scared of. So I’m happy with baby steps. I believe in the civil use of the plant, it’s not part of my platform to run in Utah. I simply believe in that, that as we move this plant towards or cannabis towards plant medicine as a whole, right. And pharmaceutical companies begin looking at plants as a medicine.

There is danger and pushing this towards them, just in the sense that many plants have chirps, most plants. And we know by holistic doctors that, lavender can help you sleep. Basal has medicinal benefits. And cannabis is just a plant just like them. So as the stigma wears off, and it becomes more mainstream, hopefully that’ll push our nation and maybe the world into exploring plants as a medicine versus synthetics as a medicine.

RS: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned earlier the fact that corporate interest held cannabis back for so long. Do you feel like pharma is holding it back now?

SS: I do. It’s something under the covers, right? They — the big pharma companies weren’t ready for this. They couldn’t have been to Schedule 1 drug. So are they getting their ducks in a row in order to be able to own pieces or patents or formulas in order to prescribe them to us later?

I would imagine so, in the states that are I believe it’s recreational as well legal, in those states, opiate prescriptions have dropped by 25%. And there’s enough data over the years that that’s holding to be true. Call it 20% even, that is 20% per state of dollars out of a big farmer’s pocket. Now, I would say, Wow, that’s a win. That’s a beautiful thing. Because in the State of Utah, I think it was six people per week died of opiate use.

To me, that’s a win, to say, oh, my gosh, we’re writing less prescriptions, addictive pharmaceuticals, that’s a win. But in corporate America, that’s money out of a pocket, a company would get in trouble to say why or why did you not make as much money as you did last year? And they could be making $10 billion. But if they only made $9 billion, which is still pretty impressive, they would get the Wall Street or whoever would say, why did you not make $10 billion or $11 billion? That’s ridiculous, you’re failing.

It’s not a failure. It’s a win. So do I think that that’s part of the reason why it’s not federally recognized legally? Yes. There has to be something going on in the background.

RS: Yeah. Tell me, you’ve been through different sectors of different industries. And you’ve also had a bunch of different roles. And you started as a temp in Overstock, kind of just like, if you look at your journey as this like arc, do you think coming from the vantage point that you’re coming from gives you a different sort of perspective than most of the people that you encounter in the business world?

SS: Yes, yes, I do. I come from a blue collar family. Both my parents, my mom was a civil servant for the Engineering Army Depo. That’s where I grew up. And my dad was a mill right at a magnesium plant out here. So we — college wasn’t part of our conversation, it wasn’t we’re preparing you for college. That wasn’t it. I was also a very young mother at the age of 17.

And both of those things, and eventually being divorced and on welfare by 21 also makes me different. And I think it brings out a scrappy way to look at things, a scrappier way to get things done. And because I didn’t read the playbook that a lot of people play by, it does bring a different perspective.

I was on welfare as a young woman, and I was happy. I had a successful career at Overstock, and I found myself off welfare also was a young woman, but I was happy. So I’ve lived both sides of that spectrum. And I found happiness in each. I also have a pretty strong compass as far as ethics. And not that people don’t, but I do find that people will make sacrifices to get ahead financially in certain scenarios but I think having lived both sides, that’s less of a risk to me.

I know there’s happiness and being poor and scrappy and trying to get by, and there’s also happiness and less stress absolutely, and having enough money to pay the bills. But I’ll never — I don’t consider myself above anyone that has to utilize State funds to get by or get some assistance to get by. And we do glorify many people on Instagram by their photos, or their private jets, or whatever that is.

When the real, some of the real heroes or the folks that really have to scrape by in our country, don’t have a smartphone to get to post their Instagram pictures and if they did, they would be ashamed. And they shouldn’t be ashamed. The other 99% are really making things tick to.

RS: Do you think that, that kind of serves you as you enter politics? And I bet see a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t necessarily make you happy? Is that something like, do you have something that is able to kind of push you forward? Or are you energized by the process of it?

SS: Actually the process is very hard. And you’ve got to dig deep to push forward. The divide amongst the two parties, which I understand the two party system, I wish we would break out of it. It’s almost like they want to go to war with each other. And I’m feeling that right now.

I’ve been, I’m fiscally conservative. I have been a Republican, a libertarian and a Democrat. And I’ve held each of those proudly, because it aligns with where I am and where the parties were at that time. But the divide is real. I have had during my fundraising people that I love that I really thought loved and supported me say I would never support a Democrat, even if it’s you.

And that has been super surprising. I would hope you bet on the person, not the party, but the state that we’ve gotten to of almost like a war amongst ourselves is and the idea that we couldn’t diversify, I consider myself a pretty conservative Democrat. Our social issues and what we believe is what we have the right to do and believe as citizens.

And they shouldn’t define which side you’re on. And having to choose a side is a really interesting way to get things done. And yet you do, you start to choose a side. And people, again, I would say that’s been the hardest part is, knowing that the divide is really strong even amongst my friends. And, it’s saddening. It really is.

You would hope that you just want a group of people in that’ll get the job done, that means diversity. That means many voices in the room, not the same voice in the room. And most important, that’s when I say, everyone needs to participate, we all need to get involved at some level, when you feel like it’s not for you.

Like I said, I looked at the hill and went I’m just not like that. And now I think, well, that’s the benefit. That’s why you do it. Because you’ve got to get, I’ll always be in my mind, I always feel have ties to that welfare mother, that blue collar worker. And that is where, that’s where I come from. I love corporate America. I support capitalism, all of those things.

But the majority of Americans aren’t given the opportunities that I had. It just doesn’t come across their plate, without an Ivy League, education, or a college education for that matter. But I’m one of the few in our times that it worked out for me. Hard work paid off, determination paid off. Listening and then doing and creating and innovating paid off for me.

And I want that for everyone. But more importantly, I think just the idea that you can do what your heart desires. And you should be able to make a living with it. When I was in LA, and you go down the street, and you see literally Skid Row, a tent city of that’s their homes, people live there.

And we’re not addressing that fact. Jeff Bezos just became a trillionaire and I’m proud of him. I mean, Amazon’s amazing. That’s an incredible thing to do. And yet, folks that are working in our country for minimum wage are unable to make ends meet. And that’s a tragedy. So how do we find the balance? I wish I knew. But taking small steps and getting those voices in are important to figure out.

RS: Yeah, we’ve been talking recently about the Safe Banking Act and how I mean, we talked a little bit about it at the beginning. And how salient it is for cannabis companies to be able to bank responsibly and reasonably, and yet what seems like kind of a no brainer bipartisan issue is all tangled up in the partisanship.

Like do you have an opinion on the Safe Banking Act in particular or kind of why whether the divisiveness is going to be something that is able to that the cannabis industry can kind of fix that malady of the divisiveness around all the laws and the regulations?

SS: Yeah, it’s outrageous. These are tax paying businesses. The idea that we’re discouraging institutions are, we make it hard for institutions to take money from cannabis companies is outrageous. It’s almost comical and it does provide a little daylight to disrupt the banking institutions as they are today.

I knew these numbers with the Frank Dodd Act, it was I mean, I don’t know how many small banks were around America, but it very much consolidated to where five or six banks, maybe it’s four or five banks manage 45% of the wealth and the rest of the money is dispersed amongst about 6000 banks.

There is daylight to disrupt the system. And how did that consolidation happened? Well, it became too hard for the federal government to track everybody and get all the paperwork done. So they started making it harder. And a lot of small banks fell out. There’s room, the blockchain provides — the blockchain not cryptocurrency, but just the functionality of the blockchain provides the ability to track immutably in a ledger of where money goes and how it’s spent right?

Far more complicated than that. But simply it says that, as folks move forward within that technology, and banks continue to work within the confines of the federal government and bureaucracy there, this is a real opportunity for people. For people to come in and disrupt the system and they should. But when I was in Denver, there was one credit union that allowed us to put the money from a dispensaries and the growth in there.

And it was like $7500 a month, just to put your money in. And again, as these cannabis entrepreneurs are taxed, buried in paperwork, figuring out how to be in many states with dealing with each state’s laws. We’re also going to make these hurdles hard for them as far as where do you put your money?

It’s comical, and it goes back to taking history, making it right, and allowing these entrepreneurs a safe way to store their money that every business is allowed, except this essential one. So I have a lot of opinions on it.

RS: Do you think blockchain usurps regular banking eventually in this industry or not even eventually, but maybe soon?

SS: It could just do it in every industry. It really could. It’s what institutions built off other things, right, built off other technologies and really complicated architectures as to how they track things or how things flow through it. The blockchain can simplify a lot of that.

And it’s a matter of — the complications of the blockchain came out with cryptocurrency. When you associate Bitcoin with the blockchain, and all I can say is this, blockchain can go have its own apartment in New York City, and it can be the blockchain, and it can live alone.

Bitcoin cannot have its own apartment. It always has to have a roommate. And that roommate is the blockchain. And so they’re separate. They may have different functions. And there may not be reasons to always use the blockchain where people want to apply it to a business, but there are reasons to do so. And I believe, banking is one of those reasons.

RS: Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. How far away do you think we are from that kind of disruption?

SS: It still depends on the federal government. And they’re tied up with the current banking system. The way our dollars flow through the system is in a controlled way. And until the feds loosen up, we’ll use Elan Musk, right. So we have all these motors, all these cars and the way that they’re built on the old engines. And then he comes along and says, No, it’s to this electronic like, we’re going to disrupt gas, and we’re going to disrupt the car manufacturing.

And it took him a minute, he got beat up, said it wouldn’t work. He kept hammering at it, and hammering at it, and hammering on it until he broke through. And it’s going to be that same type of initiative and motivation to break through.

And then what happened? So, other people start saying, maybe there’s something to this, maybe we need to adjust the way that we make cars, and maybe there is a more efficient way. But someone breaks through the brick wall first. And someone with credibility, and I’m sure a lot of money will have to do that first and a lot of political connections.

RS: Yeah. I’m interested in hearing a little bit about you’re still on the board at High Times. Is that is that correct?

SS: No, that’s not. That was a — no, I stepped down.

RS: Do you want to talk about at all your time at High Times there, kind of like, I’m interested because to me, they mark a certain kind of passaging of the industry. I’m wondering what you took away from your time there?

SS: Well, High Times absolutely held the torch for 40 years spreading awareness about cannabis or there were articles years ago about the healing benefits or some of the consumptions that we have today. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but outside of just smoking it.

You know, they were talking about edibles, oils decades ago. They carried that torch. I was in Utah as a teenager or throughout my life that was the only place where you could get information that wasn’t as strict with and you’re a bad person. And so I absolutely adored the magazine, and found it to be informational for me.

Upon joining the industry, I joined the board of High Times in 2017, became CEO in January of 2020. And the messaging of the direction had changed a lot from where it had been. And I appreciate it. I appreciate the brand. I appreciate all that it’s done. And I hope the best for their next initiatives.

RS: Was part of the reason why you left the cannabis world was feeling kind of a little disenchanted with what you thought was what it was going to look like versus what it actually looks like?

SS: Right, I wouldn’t say I left the cannabis world. I have changed my attention to and yes, what I thought it would look like and what it looks like is what many other industries look like in corporate America. So is it a surprise? It was a surprise that happened so quickly. I would love to see the Mom and Pop shops take it a little further or take the message a little farther then you’re a little longer. I mean, when they were able to.

But I work with a group called Mission Green with Weldon Angelos, who is a gentleman that I forget the year, maybe 2001 was producing music with Snoop Dogg and hip hop artists and doing so successfully and sold some cannabis to a cop. Weldon was in his first offense, his first offense, not a violent guy contributing to society and did that.

He wasn’t really even, was not a cannabis dealer. He wasn’t selling cannabis on the street. He did this for a cop. Weldon was charged with 105 years. He was facing 105 years in federal prison. He was sentenced to 55. He was released after a lot of work by presidents and the government after 13. 13 years away from his family, 13 years away from his children… He was released in 2016 or ’18.

And we connected and I’m working with Weldon on helping to free federal prisoners. He has an amazing group, Mission Green. He has wonderful plans, and he has the experience of being someone that actually suffered from the war on drugs. The sentence was outrageous. And it was in this century 2001.

So I haven’t stepped out of the cannabis industry. I probably won’t. But for right now, I am focused on that to do my own heart good. I feel like it’s karmic duty in a sense, which seems silly, but it depends on how you live your life. And that’s where I’ve been focusing some energy along with the campaign and the podcast.

RS: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Good for you. No, not silly at all, I think really inspiring we should all in some way be trying to right the wrongs that we see and that we feel and what is your take on righting those wrongs? How kind of hopeful are you that real change there happens?

SS: I’m so hopeful. There hasn’t been a room that I’ve spoken in, when I go to cannabis place or conferences, where a black woman has approached. She has — I’ve always been approached by a black woman who tells me about someone in their family that has been victimized for non-violent cannabis crime, and victimized to the point where they were 19 when they had a quarter of weed and they’re 50 in prison.

It’s insane. And I do feel as I’ve spoken about, which is what starts the conversation that black and brown people have absolutely been the most targeted in regarding the prisoners of cannabis. And so I think that, what it’s going to take is similar to what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement right now. It’s going to take sunshine, it’s going to take a revolution and it’s going to take a lot of people to acknowledge the history, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and step forward making it better.

I am sorry for the participation that my family had in racism for over our generations. But I would be silly to say it didn’t happen. It really happened. My mom was really raised to drink out of a different water fountain. She really was a teenager when black people were asked to sit in the back of the bus, and all of those things are uncomfortable because they’re true.

And as a white person, I see it, I saw it widely upon entering the cannabis industry and doing my research. And now I think it’s important that we talk about it. We talked about it, we put a light on it, and we make sure it never happens again.

RS: Yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s interesting, what you’re saying about having uncomfortable conversations. During this time, I’ve had a number of them, I’m sure people listening and you yourself have had them too. I think, during this time, if you’re doing what you need to be doing, you’re having some uncomfortable conversations.

And I’ve talked to people who I thought I was expecting their answers to be one way. And they weren’t. And, it’s like exactly what you were saying, like our parents were raised in segregation in the States like, that’s a lot to get out from under on both sides. And it’s salient that we keep doing it. So yeah, here’s to that pursuit.

I want to ask you as a — you started a podcast as a fellow podcaster, how has that been and how did you decide to go the route of podcasting?

SS: Well, it’s — let’s see, this is the third week that things have been released. I just yesterday released the third episode. I had someone approached me about a year ago wanting to do a cannabis specific podcast. And I started down that path. But what I realized was my journey of life has been much more in cannabis. It’s definitely a piece of it and a very big piece right now.

But it’s not the only piece. So what I discovered is how much I enjoy listening to people’s stories. I really do. They inspire me with the reinvention of themselves. And they inspire me at the times that, I realized why people don’t leave 15 years careers, it’s really hard to develop another one. It’s really hard to add a label rather than shake a label.

And as I stumbled across people with these amazing stories, I pivoted the podcast to really be just in interview about other people’s lives and the reinventions of themselves, and getting to know them as an individual and what makes them special, because every single one of us are. And out of the billions of people in the world, you’ll be hard to find one that’s exactly the same.

Even identical twins have differences on the inside. And that’s what inspired me was the idea of meeting these people and giving them a way to tell their story and share inspiration over and over and over again. I haven’t met a person that I haven’t been inspired by, really, or that I haven’t learned a lesson from and I enjoy it. I really do love using the platform to share people’s stories.

RS: That’s great. Yeah, I saw that you interviewed my favorite Brady.

SS: How much do you love Peter?

RS: Did, always have.

SS: Always have. He was literally a poster on my wall and then grew up to be a man that I became friends with and really an honorable guy, like, worthy of every young girl’s room that that poster hung in. He grew up to be a guy that you want to know. Yeah, he’s the best.

RS: That’s cool. That’s fun that you’re out there talking to people and doing what you love. And I imagine it feeds everything that you’re kind of working on, everything feeds — it feeds each other, right?

SS: Yes, because the idea of only being one thing in your one lifetime, it scares me. I want to experience or get my toes wet in many different things. And my curiosity drives me in so many different directions. But, every one of them, even when it doesn’t work out has been an experience that makes me smile, or where I learned something I never would have learned before.

Joining the cannabis industry and taking the first job I did was literally like going to college in a course that hadn’t been invented. The same thing walking in Overstock, there was nowhere to find a Social Media Manager when social media came about or you were struggling to find developers that could work within e-commerce and do the things we needed it to do. And now it’s completely mainstream.

So now, I’m getting a course which, there are college courses in politics but I’m learning literally from the ground up again. It is self directed way. I refer to myself as an autodidact, which is just self taught learning. And I really find joy in that. I really do. I love learning from the ground up. And done it in e-commerce, done it in cannabis, and doing it in politics and I guess podcasting.

RS: Yeah, I’m always telling my daughter, there’s a lot of value to be had a mis-education not just formal education. But I think my — the knowledge that I most appreciate was mostly based off of my mis-education outside the four walls. So I’m right there, I’m right there with you.

What would you like to leave our listeners with before we go?

SS: Well, definitely, during this COVID crisis, stay strong, wear a mask. Hopefully, it’s only temporary. But as I have done throughout this, I used to get on airplanes all the time, I used to be running around and doing a lot of movement, a lot of movement. And I found it hard to be still. And there’s still days where I’m just struggling to be still and longing for what used to be.

But take a minute and appreciate these lessons. What we really need to survive, which is food and shelter, and water, right. Those are what you really need, and then everything outside of that is a benefit. And now I appreciate every single thing outside of that. I missed the time with my friends. But I’m so appreciative for what we used to be able to go and do.

And so finding peace and what we’re being forced to do, which is, connect with your family, connect with your space, get yourself grounded and hang in there. Realize how strong we are together. This idea of world being on a timeout has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. But it’s one of the only things we’ve ever had to do collectively.

This has affected every country and every human. And if that doesn’t connect us, and have us see similarities and start creating world peace instead of world wars, I’m not sure how much more of a sign we can get and just sending them love. As corny as that sounds, that’s what’s going to make us tick. And I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve received during this time.

RS: Yeah, it’s interesting. I was going to say, I call it COVID Silver Linings, the things that we’re being forced to face and the things that we’re taking away from it. I mean, it’s nothing I think anyone would obviously nobody would have predicted it, but certainly nobody would ask for it. But I think the things that come out of it are certainly lessons and very impactful and important ones.

Nonetheless, even if we don’t like the body of the message, the message is there for us. So…

SS: That’s right. And it is uncomfortable. It’s the hardest thing I think we’ll ever have to do as a very social society.

RS: Yeah, we’re — you’re exactly right with what you said about tapping back into your family, but also everybody is needing to tap into their space and where they’re based, and that was one of the first things that I found interesting. People that are peripatetic and always moving and a lot of people are being faced with Yo, we’re in one spot and this is it and but yeah, many, many lessons there to be picked up.

Stormy, I’m really happy to talk to you and I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

SS: Thank you so much. It was great and I appreciate it, and vote. And donate regardless of where you are. Let’s diversify the government.

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