Episode 38 - "To deny cannabis to people because some bureaucrat wants to scare voters, that’s really wicked."

An exclusive interview with former Massachusetts governor and cannabis legalization maverick, Bill Weld.

 
 

Bill Weld has been a maverick politician ever since he was elected as the (libertarian) Republican governor of deep blue Massachusetts. Not only was he among the first American office holders to preach the benefits of legalization in 1991—five years before California legalized—he was also one of the earliest proponents of LGBTQ rights. He was a fiscally conservative social liberal with a gin dry sense of humor. When once challenged about Blueblood ancestors who had come over on the Mayflower, Weld quipped: "Actually, they weren't on the Mayflower. They sent the servants over first to get the cottage ready.” Weld was an extremely popular governor -- the citizens of Massachusetts reelected him for a second term in 1994 by a  71% majority. His last run for public office was as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s Vice President running mate in the 2016 presidential race.

Along with the ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner and the former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Weld joined the board of the multi-state, venture-backed cannabis company, Acreage Holdings this year. The fine men and women at Acreage invited me to interview him on stage at the Cannabis World Congress exposition in Boston on October 19, 2018.

Bill told me that even while he has had a long and friendly relationship with alcohol, he has never sampled cannabis or tobacco. He became aware of the plant’s value when he saw it reduce the number of seizures and suffering in a family member with epilepsy. Unlike many politicians and self-proclaimed “experts,” he is uncomfortable predicting the future of the industry, but he doesn’t shy away from discussing the thornier aspects of normalizing the plant in the US.

In this interview we discuss the Trump administration’s August 18 not-so “secret plan” to create a disinformation campaign about marijuana to spark fear in the population; whether big pharma and tobacco will swoop in to gobble up the industry once federal legalization occurs; and the administration’s hysterical threat to close the northern border to any Canadian involved in the cannabis industry. “People in Washington should try to be less hysterical,” he says. “It’s not like those Canadians are transmitting syphilis. It’s crazy.”

Thanks to Christine Ianuzzi and her great team of sound engineers, Matthew Bailey and Will Senedzuk for recording and allowing us to share this audio.

Joe Dolce