While controversial political strategist Roger Stone has vowed to repair the broken system keeping marijuana from being made legal in the United States, a small group of cannabis advocates, some of which believe his ties to President Trump make him a racist, want to see him banned from participating in events connected to the cannabis community.
It was recently revealed that Stone, a man who has been one of Trump’s most loyal advisors for the past several decades, launched a bipartisan advocacy group called the United States Cannabis Coalition. The goal of the organization, which has since attracted the support of Florida attorney John Morgan, is to try and persuade President Trump to remove marijuana from the confines of the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act and effectively overturn federal marijuana prohibition, once and for all.
“It is our intention to press the Trump Administration from the top down to recognize the medicinal value and economic potential of cannabis,” Stone said last week in a statement. “We have an innovative, outside the box strategy to win this important fight and I am confident that with our support, the president will ultimately keep his word and do the right thing.”
Nevertheless, a number of speakers and sponsors slated to take part in the upcoming Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition, where Stone is scheduled to deliver the keynote, are threatening to boycott the event if organizers allow Stone to take the stage.
The boycott was instigated last week by Minority Cannabis Business Association, which said in a Facebook post that it has “decided to withdraw from attendance and speaking roles at this conference” as a result of Stone being selected to give the keynote.
Since then, the Cannabis Industry Journal has chimed in to provide its two cents on the matter.
“In choosing Roger Stone to keynote, the CWCBExpo is making a Faustian bargain and we don’t believe this is right,” wrote the editors for the Cannabis Industry Journal. “We need to stand by our morals; the ends don’t justify the means. The cannabis industry is no place for racism and we would like to see Roger Stone removed from the keynote position at CWCBExpo.”
Other cannabis publications have also came forward with opinions suggesting that a man like Roger Stone has no business being a poster child for the issue of marijuana reform.
“Maybe Roger Stone isn’t a racist, but you know what’s just as bad as being a racist? Using other people’s racism as a means to achieve your own political ends,” Kaliko Castille wrote for Weed News. "There are plenty of well-intentioned conservatives that are coming around on our issue who don’t flirt with racism to make their point. … I don’t care how connected Stone is to Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump, if our industry decides to buddy up to people who have blood on their hands, there is no way for us to come out clean.”
Nevertheless, organizers of the CWCBExpo say they have no intention of removing Stone from the bill.
“We have to be as inclusionary as we can possibly be. It is nothing more than that,” said Dan Humiston, who is overseeing the expo.
“I think there are some real benefits to the cannabis movement that will be gained by getting as many people under our tent as we can. … The more dialogue and more opportunities to speak with people we can’t agree on any other topic with, the better,” Humiston continued. “I think he [Stone] is an asset to this movement. He has raised a lot of money. He is pushing Jeff Sessions really hard and he’s got Donald Trump’s ear.”
Attorney John Morgan, who had a heavy hand in getting medical marijuana legalized in Florida, recently told Politico that the cannabis community was being counterproductive by trying to push Stone out of the legalization movement. Morgan says that Stones direct connection to President Trump is exactly what the situation needs right now to remedy all of the threats of crackdowns that could potentially rear their ugly heads without the presence of an influential voice.
“It's a mistake. Roger has the president's ear. Politics is not pretty. Sometimes politics makes strange bedfellows. This is such a time,” Morgan told the news source by email. “With the stroke of a pen Trump could make MJ schedule 2. And it would be right and his ratings would soar.”