Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman on WEED
December 30, 2020
We spoke with the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, on legalizing weed.

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We spoke with the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, on legalizing cannabis, and why we should in fact be calling it weed.

Interview Transcript

Chuck Corra  19:56

We’ve talked a lot about cannabis on this show. Well, I want to start by talking about your statewide toward you did you visit At all 67 counties in 2019 in Pennsylvania and recreational marijuana listening tour, I’m curious what ultimately prompted you to do that? And what was your takeaway from people you talk to you in places outside of the major metro areas outside of places like Pittsburgh and Philly?

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  20:16

The reason why I decided to do it was that this was a conversation that everybody wanted to have. It was by far and away from the most engaged public policy discussion that Pennsylvania’s ever had, we had 10s of 1000s of people come out for these meetings, we had, you know, 80,000 comments and things submitted online. Just the level of engagement. Again, it’s unprecedented on any other public policy topic here in Pennsylvania.

I went to all 67 counties because every one of those counties matters, as a matter of fact, the people that live in their matter, and too often their voices are ignored. I wanted to make sure that they were very much part of this conversation what they told me is that they want this: they don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. It affirmed to me what I’ve always said that marijuana, weed is a bipartisan issue. Lieutenant Governor,

Big John Isner  21:19

The big thing that Chuck and I always talk about, we kind of talk in the abstract about this, and it’s about the economic benefit of cannabis. Yep, cannabis. We talk a lot about cannabis. I’m mostly writing in the extra narrative to help with seo. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what it would mean for Pennsylvania to legalize recreational cannabis and particularly, what would it mean for the average person in Pennsylvania to legalize cannabis,

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  21:43

It would mean that 20,000 fewer of us would be criminally charged for using a plant every year in Pennsylvania right off the top, it would mean that we could free 1000s 10s of 10s of 10s of 1000s of people from a criminal record that in the past were charged with this nonsense, just some stupid weed conviction, it would mean a cash crop for our farmers, it would mean billions in long term revenue for our Commonwealth which could be used to invest in a lot of these smaller counties that are definitely under invested in it would mean 10s of 1000s of new jobs that don’t require a nickel of subsidy. It would give young people another reason to stay in Pennsylvania to invest in Pennsylvania put down roots.

I honestly always try to embrace that the counter-argument to my own and, and prohibition just is utterly indefensible. It’s just this vigil reefer madness. I mean, that’s all it is. If you are pro jack daniels, then you’ve got to be pro-weed. Because, you know, I could, you know, I could hit a big fat one and just be like, super chill and maybe eat too many Doritos, but you guzzle a bottle of jack you know this is going to destroy your let me like again like this idea that we’ve criminalized the plant is absurd and it’s an outrage quite frankly.

I use CBD lotion on the regular In fact, it’s remarkable and in a sense of rage as a libertarian to some extent to that this substance was kept from us, because of the reefer madness, but it’s like, Hey, dude, have as many oxy scripts as you want, you know? And it’s just, it’s just absurd.

The economic impact of weed

Chuck Corra  23:37

Absolutely. And I completely agree. And I think that’s kind of is a good segue to my next question, which is the thing that’s always kind of boggled john, in my mind a little bit is that this is a no brainer, both from an economic standpoint, a social justice standpoint, it’s a slam dunk moneymaker for states.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  23:54

Grand Slam across the board. And let me also I’m going to throw this out here too because I believe it’s tangential and very related. Mushrooms to Pennsylvania is the number one producer of mushrooms in the world hands down Really? Were Yeah, not even close. Not even close. Second. And here we are also criminalizing a mushroom that has already demonstrated enormous potential for mental well being and micro-dosing. And it’s like, what if you marry agriculture and revolutionary new wellness and, and decriminalizing plants that you can grow next year tomatoes and turn it into something that benefits us economically, from a freedom standpoint, from a justice standpoint, from a revenue standpoint? It’s free money, literally saying no, I don’t want $5 billion in free money over the next 20 years. Let’s let the cartels keep it. Let’s let the drug dealers keep it serious.

Chuck Corra  24:52

Well, what are what are the current political barriers to that happening in Pennsylvania right now?

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  24:57

key members of the Republican Party They’ll state legislature that’s only it only had I honestly don’t know, I don’t really articulate it in any kind of a way that I could discern. There sure are a lot of conservative states that are talking about legal weed and voting for it.

If you’re to the right of South Dakota on anything, I think that should say, Well, you know, maybe I ought to revisit some of these things and rethink this. And you don’t have to use weed, you don’t have to love weed, you don’t have to acknowledge that it should be legal. Just the same way I don’t consume tobacco at any level never have what I think you are you or anyone has the right to go to a store and purchase it safely legally, to have a tax, etc. and regulate to the extent that it is I don’t understand why weed is anything outside of that.

Chuck Corra  26:01

Does New Jersey legalizing weed this past month create any more pressure on Pennsylvania to do the same?

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  26:13

Huge, huge, just that you know, like, and now New York is going to go? Well, you guys are in West Virginia, you guys down here, way of New Jersey, we’re going to New York. As a result, it’s like we’re, filling in a weed sandwich geographically at this point. And, and now Rhode Island, I mean, like every, you know, all these states are it’s just a matter of time. And the thing is, I know I’m right about it, it’s a matter of how long it takes the legislature, to acknowledge it. Let’s just figure this out, you know, together.

Big John Isner  26:55

As a result of legalizing weed, what would it mean for the social justice part because I think a lot of people talk about finances, but they forget about that part.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  27:19

Oh, it has to follow, like, this idea that your record could be damaged because of some stupid weed conviction 20 years ago is absurd. absurd. And, and that’s not justice. That’s perpetual punishment. Because it stops you from volunteering at your kids school, it stops you from maybe getting a better job or getting a clearance or a license that you need professionally or something. You know, like, Oh my god, you got caught with a road trip clip when you were 21 years old. And now you’re trying to get some certification to be middle management or whatever at 41. It’s like it’s it’s, it’s it’s punitive Lee stupid. And it’s very much a jobs issue. As far as I’m concerned.

Big John digs in a bit more

Big John Isner  28:00

We have a number of listeners in Pennsylvania, do you have any tips? Or you know, yeah, something that that they should be doing?

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  28:06

If they’re, you know, like, blow up their state rep or state senator with legal weed for PA. You know, like, this is what we want. Respectfully, I mean, don’t call them Hey, asshole, we want legal weed, you know, you heard in a prospective constructive way where it’s like, Hey, you know, madam senator, or mister state representative, you know, we really need to get seen about legal weed in Pennsylvania. And the ones that don’t, that’s a distinct minority fringe perspective. You know, like, for the longest time they tried to make weed like this fringe, you know, hippie, Jeff Spicoli, you know, like, No, actually prohibition of it is actually the fringe weird perspective, the reefer madness. the notion is the fringe weird perspective.

You’d be surprised the interaction you see online, where it’s like hitting in the face with a wet rag, you know, like, Yeah, no, you know, make friends and influence people or whatever the question is, it’s just trying to make the argument on the very real, legitimate factual basis that we have right now.

Big John Isner  29:32

Something I wanted to pivot to, I know that we only have you for a limited amount of time. The big thing going on in Pennsylvania right now is the election. So obviously, it looks like Donald Trump has lost in Pennsylvania. You’ve been very vocal about what’s been going on.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  29:50

He knows I’ve been very truthful. Yeah, like this. This idea that it’s a dispute is what’s so disingenuous. you wouldn’t have a podcast Where we argue every week, what, you know, one plus one equals three because factually, that’s not true. And to say there was voter fraud is just factually not true. You know, I don’t like the fact that I lost my hair. You just can’t see it. I mean, like, it’s absurd.

There are outcomes in life where we do not like them. But that does not grant us the right to question them, particularly when I mean if you want to kill yourself in the mirror every morning, either you’re the only one that’s polluting yourself. But when you are actively damaging the American franchise that underpins, you know, our society that’s yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is.

Big John Isner  30:51

And the reason I wanted to bring it up to you is that we just talked about how some of the members on the Republican side in Pennsylvania have been holding up cannabis legislation. This type of stuff worries me in the sense of in the future, do we become more of a divided party versus party, especially when now we’re disputing whether or not elections have actually been, you know, one

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  31:12

The Republicans know the truth about the election? They do. And I understand there’s a strong need to cater to the snake-handling weird fringe of their party because that’s very much real. I mean, this idea that they were robbed, you know, I said on Twitter this morning, that the same people that think 270,000 dead Americans for COVID is a hoax, are willing to believe that 130,000 dead people voted for Joe Biden using dominion, you know, I mean, like, it’s, it’s this odd intersection that is utterly illogical at every juncture.

You want to know who the big winner on the election in 2020 with weed was, you know, and South Dakota, Montana, New Jersey, Mississippi, Mississippi, up until a month ago, had the Confederate flag in their state flag just voted for medical marijuana like this is not fringe kind of stuff here like my God, West Virginia, you know, how long is it going to take for West Virginia to come around because you have an older population and medical we can do wonders for and that helps change the hearts and minds of people to everyone knows the truth about marijuana. Everyone understands that weed does not belong in the same categorization as men crack all these other things at all. And the fact that that it’s scheduled one is is vestigial reefer madness that is rooted in originally and racism, and

Chuck Corra  32:48

a sense of, we got to find something to be against because we can’t be against alcohol anymore. One of the issues that we have in West Virginia is that so much of the state has been, you know, devastated by the economy like the energy industry has completely changed and left a lot of people behind. And I know this, there’s a similar feeling like that. And Pennsylvania, especially western Pennsylvania, with the changing economy. How do you see what do you see cannabis as a role in that and helping people start new careers or helping people kind of recover from that?

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  33:21

Why do you? Why do you need to take the edge off after every day or a couple of pain pills, when you can just use a plant that is nonaddictive that has no known medical overdose deaths? That is something that has been with us for years, and then they say, well, they manipulate the THC, it’s like, well, they do that with alcohol, too. That’s why I can go buy fucking wine cooler, and then also a bottle of green too. I mean, it’s like, that doesn’t mean you chug green when you only wanted a wine cooler.

We’re adults here. And, and it’s like, libertarian, you know, like, I have a libertarian. And like, we just have to say, like, if you are for X, Y, and Z in terms of these products, it is illogical and indefensible, not to add wheat to that basket. Absolutely. Ready recaps?

Running as a Democrat in rural America

Chuck Corra  34:16

Absolutely. So I wanted to end I know that we’ve got you for a short time, and I wanted to end on something that John and I’ve talked about a lot I mentioned before, that he ran for office in a very deep red part of West Virginia. Most people didn’t even run a Democrat. Oh,

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  34:34

really? That’s redundant. I mean, where’s the where’s the blue part of West Virginia,

Chuck Corra  34:38

valid point? Well, he ran for a seat that Democrats don’t even typically get on the ballot for

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  34:45

I’m, I’m joking. I know. And I respect that and that’s what helps. I mean, that’s the those are, those are the the best kind of racers because these energize and they act debate and they debate. I absolutely do that. And I think that that is that’s, that’s broad democracy.

Chuck Corra  35:13

Yeah, well, and one thing I wanted to ask is, you know, you’ve gotten a lot of attention for being a democrat that can really appeal to people outside of the urban centers, which is something that Democrats really need. And I’m wondering, kind of to put a button on this is there, what are some things that you would give advice to other democrats running in rural parts of the country to really like, appeal to people and get past the negative stigmas attached to having a D next year name.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  35:42

I wouldn’t give any democrat advice. It’s like run the race that you want to run, because there’d be plenty of democrats that would say to you don’t run, you don’t have a chance in winning or whatever it’s like, like, like, we shouldn’t be training our guns on anybody right now, metaphorically speaking, I want to be clear metaphors are done by anybody, actually, not fellow Democrats, okay.

This idea that you’re to blame for my or this or that it’s like, you know, each person represents their respective district to the best of their respective ability, and they must have some validity, to carry that flag if they were democratically elected. And I’m not going to be in the business of saying, Well, if you do this, or you do that, or it’s your fault, or it’s not whatever, it’s like, no, it’s like, I trust you to articulate your district or whatever that is a vision for its citizens the way I would hope you would do for me, too, you know, like, do you do me, and I think there are universal themes. But at the end of the day, I’m not in the advice-giving business, I’m in the, you know, pillock The way I see it.

Big John Isner  36:55

But I think that’s probably why you’re one of the more respected politicians, especially out there, we like that, that’s what we want to see.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  37:04

And that’s the point in it, like, the truth ultimately wins. whether you do or not, I, I’m not going to run on something that I fundamentally know or believe is, is a lie, or it’s not true. And and if, if, if one of my positions is enough to keep you from voting for me, then I’d rather have you know, where I stand in to try to pretend that I’m something that I’m not or, you know, pay you the compliment of being very honest with with what I am?

Big John Isner  37:36

Well, we we certainly admire that we wish more politicians were like that. And, you know, we really do thank you for your time. I know that you’re a busy guy. And we are very lucky to have interviewed you today and gotten your you know, your perspective on cannabis and all things politics. So we really do appreciate it.

The importance of saying “weed” instead of cannabis

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  37:55

Yeah. And also, I let me just say this, I mean, I have to finish the thing, I don’t give advice, but I will say that It seems you are conscientiously referring it to cannabis over and over again. And, and I am just and will continue to always refer to it as a weed. You know, because I people that there are a lot of people that don’t know what cannabis is, or they are unsure. I mean, I’m aware of the racist, original origin story of marijuana. And it’s like, I call it what most everybody I know, and ever calls it we, and it keeps it simple for people.

I think that’s the most important part of messaging is just keeping things as simple and impactful as they can. So you know, anyone that says, well, it’s cannabis-like, yeah, you know, and, and a Kleenex is also a paper-based facial tissue, and you don’t call it a paper-based facial tissue, you know, you say, like, I need a Kleenex. And that’s how I feel about winning. And that’s, you know, that rankles somebody then so be it, but, but people need to understand this is what we’re talking about, and, and make it in the most accessible and popular term that people use it to it. I don’t know anyone that would call up their dealer and say, I’d like to purchase Canada from you today.

Charles Corra  39:13

fairpoint.

Big John Isner  39:15

Yeah, trust me, I’m, I’m with you. I wish people in the industry spoke like that, because I think it’d be more appealing to a lot more people and I’m going

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  39:23

to be that guy. Yeah, like yours.

Big John Isner  39:26

think that’s awesome.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  39:27

You know, I sometimes I’ll get the cut. It’s okay. So then you need to start referring to it as a paper-based facial tissue, not, you know, right. It’s like, you want this to be universal and accepted and like, let, you know, like, you don’t call a beer, a fermented malt beverage, you know, like, it’s, it’s a beer or a brew, you know, and, and, and I think it demystifies it, it doesn’t sound Like if you’re a 68-year-old retired dude in, you know Clarion County, Pennsylvania cannabis, what the hell is cannabis, you know, like a whore or like that sounds, you know, fancy or that sound, it’s like now, we, you know.

So that’s that, you know, running headfirst into this debate, I think it’s important that we use accessible language that is authentic, and that is really universally used by anyone in that space.

Chuck Corra  40:33

So I think you make a great point. And and I think that that’s a very fair point. And I think it’s safe to say that from now on, we are going to be referring to it as weed 100%

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  40:47

of us, I understand that, technically cannabis, but for me, it’s going to be weed because we need legal weed in PA, you know, it would be weird, it would be strange for me to say, I’d like to legalize, you know, Cannabis, I mean, you know, like, it just it like I said, you know, we as humans linguistically use things like Kleenex, or whatever, or grub up or whatever, when something becomes, you know, like, we use something that it just becomes shorthand for what it is, instead of trying to articulate it down to the minutia. for some weird reason. I don’t know. So, and again, I want to be clear, I wasn’t critical of your use of cannabis. I’m just saying that, that some people in or like tech, don’t use it. It’s like, no, it’s, you know, it’s not cannabis. Mmm

Chuck Corra  41:38

hmm. No, I appreciate that. And I think it’s helpful to us, because what are one of our goals with this is to help people understand this issue better and get on board with it, like how we are right now. So I really appreciate that a lot.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  41:54

Yeah. And, and, and supporting legal weed doesn’t mean that you’re going to smoke legal weed, it doesn’t mean you love legal. You know, I, you know, I don’t consume jack daniels, really at all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the right to do it safely. I mean, so this idea that we that supporting something doesn’t mean that you love it, or you’re going to name your, your, your next born after it, it’s like, no, it just means that we are all adults, and we should be able to use these substances in a safe, legal, tax regulated manner in the comfort safety of our homes. Thank you guys for having me on.

Big John Isner  42:32

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks for I know, you’re not in the advice giving business, but thank you for the advice there, because we will take that to heart. It was just an

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  42:40

observation, that that’s fair. It’s not about saying, you know, refer to it any way you want, I guess, you know, saying that, you know, for me, it’s about broadening its, its acceptance and its terminology. And I you know, like legal brew, you know, versus legal, multi fermented, fermented multi beverage. I mean, it’s just like, let’s just call it what it is, and and make it universal. So then it doesn’t matter what we call it. It’ll just be legal. It’ll just be one more thing. No different than our six pack, you know, yeah, that’s what, yeah, I would like to go to the store, a six pack of fermented malt beverage. I mean, like, no, like,

Big John Isner  43:25

I’m going to try and ask for that today. I’m going to try and ask for that and see if anybody knows what I’m talking about. It’s it’s a fair point. I really do like it. I wish more people said it. And lieutenant governor, we really do appreciate the time. It means a lot to us to have you on. Yeah, it’s a really big deal for us. So we really do appreciate it.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman  43:43

You’re to kind of say that I don’t agree with that. Thank you. Thank you for Thank you. Awesome. Thanks

Charles Corra  43:50

so much. See ya. All right. Bye. Bye.

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