Although organizers with the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo) initially said that they had no intention of eliminating Roger Stone, “an asset to the movement,” as its keynote speaker, it seems the mounting threat of an industry boycott has forced a change of heart.
A report from L.A. Weekly indicates that the CWCBExpo has officially dropped political strategist Roger Stone from the event scheduled to take place next week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The decision to remove Stone from the rooster of speakers was made "following collaborative discussions with numerous partners, participants, and interested parties who support the legalization of cannabis in an inclusive manner,” according to a press release.
Stone, who launched the United States Cannabis Coalition (with Florida celebrity attorney and potential gubernatorial candidate John Morgan) over the summer with the intention of lobbying President Trump to change the nation’s marijuana laws, now plans to file a hefty lawsuit against event organizers.
"Sad day for the First Amendment," he said in an emailed statement. "The expo is in breach of contract. I will be suing them for $1 million. I will not be deterred from my efforts to persuade the president to preserve access to legal medicinal marijuana consistent with his pledge to the American people."
All of the controversy surrounding this issue came to light after members of the cannabis community complained that Stone’s “racist” and “misogynistic” comments were not something they felt should be associated with the marijuana movement.
A number of speakers and exhibitors scheduled to appear at the CWCBExpo recently pulled out of the event, saying that they no longer wished to participate since Stone was given the keynote.
Yet, event organizers originally said they had no plans to eliminate Stone from his speaking role.
Dan Humiston, the man in charge of executing the LA event, told the Cannabis Industry Journal that, “we have to be as inclusionary as we can possibly be. It is nothing more than that.”
“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 said. “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.”
Just last week, Stoned issued a halfhearted apology for being, according to him, too politically incorrect for the majority of his critics.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to persuade of the legal cannabis trade community.