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  • He is a trial lawyer with more than 20 years of experience.

  • He regularly appears on Fox News, CNBC, Al Jazeera, iHeart Radio and Yahoo! to discuss

  • breaking legal news stories.

  • He's recognized as one of the leading insurance litigation and sinkhole attorneys in Florida.

  • And when he's not battling large insurance companies on behalf of policy holders, Mr

  • Corless authors and presents lectures throughout the United States on a wide variety of topics,

  • including cannabis legalization, insurance coverage, complex expert testimony, criminal

  • law, sports and entertainment law and insurance bad faith.

  • As I noted, he's been working on a book, he can tell you a little bit more about when

  • he anticipates it coming out, but he's had it in the works for a couple of years now.

  • So please, help me welcome Mr. Ted Corless.

  • Thank you very much and as a lawyer of 20 years, talking to people who voluntarily spend

  • their days with lawyers, you have my sincerest apologies.

  • Marijuana is coming to mainstream.

  • Right now it's in 28 states.

  • I am right now violating the law in the State of Florida, depending on who you ask.

  • If you are carrying less than 20 grams of plant material in the State of Florida and

  • you're stopped by a police officer, you're probably going to get a $75 fine.

  • If you're stopped by a sheriff you're probably going to get a misdemeanor, it's going to

  • cost you around $400.

  • So I have $475 with me at all times whenever I travel.

  • And so far no one has asked me to give that to them.

  • Light-heartedly the issue is, is that let's begin by saying that what I want to do in

  • the next few minutes is to introduce you to this plant.

  • I want to tell you why this plant has been so relevant to me.

  • And then, I'm going to show you why it should be relevant to you.

  • And when we're done with that, I'm going to need your help.

  • Why am I talking about marijuana?

  • I have been practicing law, I was licensed in the state of Missouri in 1995 and I immediately

  • started working for the biggest, the nastiest law firms I ever could.

  • And I enjoyed that, I really did.

  • I spent several years working for companies that represented some of the largest oil producers

  • in the United States.

  • I represented large tobacco companies as a senior associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

  • And I represented some of the biggest insurance companies in the world when I was an attorney

  • at Carlton Fields.

  • But looking way back in my past, 1988 when I was 22 years old, I moderated a debate between

  • a member of the DEA, an agent in the DEA, who debated the Missouri President of the

  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

  • Very little publicity, and this was in 1988, and a thousand people showed up.

  • And I've pretty much been hooked on marijuana since then.

  • Now, if you, let's begin with what Dana was saying, we know this plant is a variety of

  • things and that the reason why it is presented on the board in this way is to show it's simplicity.

  • Lots of interesting things to know about this particular plant.

  • If we're going to be technically accurate, we call it cannabis sativa.

  • And then if any of you have been tinkering with cannabis over the last couple of years,

  • you would also hear another description of cannabis, indica, and if you really get into

  • it, you'd know it as cannabis ruderalis, which is the kind of cannabis that we use to make

  • rope.

  • Thomas Jefferson used all three forms of it to make rope and to smoke a little.

  • Now, marijuana is coming to mainstream because a lot of people were tired of the manner in

  • which the federal government was regulating this product.

  • Now I joked earlier about, it depends on who stops me, regarding what the charge would

  • be.

  • That's called arbitrary enforcement of the law.

  • Now what do we know, what happens when we arbitrarily enforce the law, who suffers when

  • that happens?

  • It's usually not lawyers like me.

  • It's usually not adults like me.

  • It's usually not white people like me.

  • You see, people ask me what is the most effective way I can protect myself about being arrested

  • if cannabis is somehow in the picture.

  • If I get caught with it or someone else does.

  • My suggestion to you, first thing: be white!

  • Because if you're black, you have a four times, four times the chances to be arrested for

  • possession of cannabis.

  • Even though the numbers reflect that white people smoke pot more than people of color.

  • Now why is this , why are we having these disagreements.

  • Well it's a real simple word that we just heard Jeff Sessions use recently, called the

  • Supremacy Clause.

  • Now see, Republicans like to talk about cannabis because they're going to protect us from it.

  • Now the reality is, is when you hear you're being protected by the federal government,

  • you should be very afraid.

  • Now, why are we having this problem?

  • Well, a lot of it has to do with the fact that this plant is pretty special.

  • It's been around for over 3,000 years.

  • We have Egyptian hieroglyphics that show cannabis being consumed by pharaoh.

  • He had a really good grower.

  • And I, if you want to know the best places to grow marijuana, if you've ever been there

  • and you've enjoyed wine, that's where you want to grow marijuana.

  • You're in the, what's commonly referred to as the Emerald Triangle in California, which

  • prior to 1996, 80% of all cannabis grown in the United States was grown in 3 counties

  • in Northern California: Mendencino, Humboldt and Sonoma.

  • And if you've ever been to wine country, you'll know that it's everywhere.

  • Always ask the bar tenders.

  • Because right now, while California recently passed recreational marijuana, it has not

  • yet been rolled out yet.

  • Or rolled up!

  • Alright, so what happens is in 1996 there were a whole bunch of people in California

  • that decided they didn't really care what the Supremacy Clause said.

  • That Main Street was taking marijuana back from the federal government, who's held it

  • hostage since 1937.

  • Long time!

  • The original prohibitions on cannabis that were formulated in 1937 were by a gentleman

  • by the name of Henry Anslinger.

  • Mr Anslinger was a racist.

  • He hung out with people from the Klan and he loved to talk about jazz musicians.

  • Because he was concerned about the influence of jazz culture on America's youth.

  • Does that sound familiar to you?

  • Any of you ever listen to Elvis?

  • Ever hear stories about how Elvis was precluded from coming to places because they were threatened

  • by his hips?

  • Well Anslinger wanted to use cannabis, not necessarily to protect us from cannabis, but

  • what he wanted to do is, he saw all these immigrants coming from Mexico.

  • He also saw a lot of people of color moving to urban centers like Detroit, Chicago and

  • New York.

  • And they were bringing cannabis with them.

  • And they needed something to be able to surveil them and to be able to arrest them to control

  • their population.

  • Let me put it this way.

  • If people from Argentina had been coming through Mexico in 1937, yerba mate would be illegal.

  • It had nothing to do with the plant.

  • So when they passed the various laws that formed what would ultimately become the Controlled

  • Substances Act, cannabis got put on the same list with PCP, but not with opioids.

  • Why not?

  • Well, because the people in the state of Florida that are now slow rolling Amendment 2, they

  • don't want you to stop using opioids.

  • Because in 2012, 1500 people.

  • One thousand five hundred people just in the state of Florida, overdosed on legally prescribed

  • opioids.

  • The opioid epidemic in Chicago is the reason why El Chapo is able to sell Mexican heroin.

  • Because Big Pharma was producing so many opioids by the pound, that when they finally figured

  • out the epidemic they had created, they started restricting access to it.

  • Well here's the problem, if you are a junkie on oxycontin, it doesn't matter, you've got

  • to have heroin.

  • There really isn't a difference between heroin and the other opioids.

  • So marijuana in 1996 became a citizen's initiative in California, where the state of California

  • said, "We're going to create a not-for-profit organization that will allow individuals to

  • grow their own marijuana and even allow other people to grow it for them.

  • As long as it's being sold not-for-profit."

  • Now you can imagine, everyone in 1996 froze when that amendment passed.

  • Well, nothing happened for almost 5 years.

  • And a gentleman, who I met, walked into city hall on Market Street in San Francisco and

  • said, "Good morning!

  • I would like a permit to grow medical marijuana!"

  • The guy kinda scratched his head, says, "I don't think we have one of those!"

  • So those of you who know constitutional law would know, well, I'm going to file a writ

  • of mandamus.

  • I'm going to ask a court to order you to produce one.

  • He walked out.

  • An hour later he received a phone call.

  • A man had sat down at a typewriter and prepared a permit application to allow you to grow

  • medical marijuana.

  • He took that permit and he wen to the Emerald Triangle and ultimately he became the mayor

  • of Sebastapol, California.

  • He asked those growers to come out of the light.

  • And what I think I'm kind of asking you today, I want you to think about it.

  • I want you to come out of the light too.

  • I'm a pot smoker and I vote.

  • Now, where are we in the state of Florida?

  • Now in 2014, there was a citizen initiative that was placed on the ballot after they got

  • the required number of votes necessary, or the signatures necessary to get it on the

  • ballot as a constitutional initiative.

  • You see, we have the pleasure of that ability.

  • We have the ability to put a constitutional amendment on our ballot.

  • We take that for granted, though.

  • Because not every state in the United States has that.

  • It's easy to find the states that don't have it.

  • Did they ever have slavery?

  • Yes!

  • No citizens initiative there.

  • There's no citizens initiative in Alabama.

  • There's no citizens initiative right in Mississippi.

  • Why?

  • Because they don't want the population getting together and deciding what the constitution

  • says.

  • Instead, they're going to let the people who are in the legislature decide who, as of right

  • now are in direct opposition to the will of the people.

  • Now in Florida, Initiative...

  • Amendment 2 failed in 2014, by only 3 percenage points.

  • 57% of the people who voted, voted for it.

  • It also happens to be right around the time period when one of the leading advocates for

  • cannabis in the state of Florida was seen intoxicated on a YouTube video.

  • Maybe you heard that story.

  • So why am I talking to you about this?

  • Well, I generally avoid talking to lawyers.

  • Unless someone's paying me of course.

  • But a lot of lawyers see themselves in different ways.

  • I'm here today primarily, not as a lawyer, but as a public... private citizen exercising

  • his First Amendment rights.

  • Now, if you think this is a sensitive topic, since we published that we were going to be

  • coming in here and I was going to be speaking on this topic, I received multiple e-mails

  • from people who are here now, with questions about cannabis.

  • Now we, we call it cannabis, not marijuana, because marijuana is a Mexican slang term

  • and technically if you're talking about marijuana, you're not supposed to be talking about marijuana

  • that would have come from the Hindu Kush Mountains.

  • So I ask people to use the word cannabis.But my editor keeps changing that word.

  • He doesn't like it.

  • Alright, but it's relevant to you for a lot of reasons.

  • And what I have been doing over the last several months is gathering a list of areas where

  • we as people in the legal profession will be addressing cannabis on Main Street.

  • And here's our list.

  • Now I'm going to go through this list quickly and if, I'm going to think that probably all

  • of you are going to find yourself somewhere on this list.

  • But if you haven't found yourself on the list, I can even tell you the one thing that's not

  • on there, because I'm being pretty honest about where we will see cannabis moving forward.

  • But the one that's not on there is medical malpractice.

  • You're really going to deal with medical... when would we deal with medical malpractice

  • in the context of marijuana?

  • Well so far I've not heard any issues associated with doctors performing procedures without

  • fully understanding the cannabis history of the patient.

  • I haven't seen that yet.

  • That's the only reason it's not on the list.

  • But everything else you see here, and I'm going to read through this quickly, are areas

  • where you, as members of the professional, of the legal profession, will see cannabis

  • on Main Street.

  • Administrative Law.

  • It's a highly regulated area and when Republicans regulate products that are sold to consumers,

  • there's a lot of regulation!

  • Because a lot of legislators don't like to talk about regulation unless it's cutting

  • them, except when it comes to cannabis.

  • I am now a card holder for medical marijuana in the state of Florida.

  • In order to gain access to that, I had to file with an administrative agency my identity

  • with copies of my birth certificate, my driver's license and I have to provide specific information

  • from my doctor before the state will issue me permission to use it.

  • My doctor told me if I would have preferred not to go through that, he would be happy

  • to provide me with unlimited access to oxycontin.

  • And in that context, he can write me a script as big as a blue ribbon hog and I can shovel

  • in opioids as much as I want.

  • And in all likelihood, if I consume them for more than 10 days, when I stopped taking them

  • I will suffer from withdrawal.

  • Okay, I'm getting a little distracted.

  • Opioids distract me.

  • Alright.

  • Anti-Trust Law.

  • Of course.

  • We don't want our pot growers getting together an deciding what the price will be.

  • I'll tell you right now that cannabis is selling in a variety of costs.

  • But costs are coming down, because there are so many people producing it.

  • Business Law.

  • Of course.

  • How do you put together a transaction between two people where one agrees to provide 10

  • pounds of cannabis while the other agrees to pay for it.

  • If there's a breach of contract.

  • Can you sue them?

  • Now when I interviewed a lawyer in Colorado who spends his entire day dealing with these

  • issues.

  • He told me that as a law firm, they agreed that under no circumstances would they ever

  • assert illegality of contract as a defense.