[UPDATE: According to LA Weekly, Roger Stone has been dropped from the lineup of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition. Ever the class act, Stone is now threatening to sue the organizers.]
American essayist and author Charles Dudley Warner once said, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” This may be more true now than ever—it seems increasingly likely that one will find themselves working with someone they find horrific if it’s politically valuable to do so.
For decades, the cannabis industry existed entirely in an unregulated marketplace. It had no political voice or clout because everyone involved was breaking numerous city, state, and federal laws. (Banking mad stacks and having a great time, mind you, except for the incarceration thing.)
Thankfully, that has changed, and the industry now pays enough taxes—so, so many taxes—that it’s earned a seat at the political table, and has begun the process of navigating how a bill becomes a law. For many, this means swallowing hard and joining forces with some people whose beliefs are reprehensible. And while I want all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace, at what cost do we make moral compromises when dealing with conservatives?
Not to paint with too broad a brush, but the majority of people involved in cannabis are progressives. And while there’s been a fair share of Democrats who haven’t done cannabis any real favors (California senator Dianne Feinstein, I’m looking at you), most of the (drug) war crimes have come from the GOP. Not just impotent crapweasel trolls such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but human grease fires of hate like Ann Coulter, who said in late July, “Marijuana makes people retarded, especially when they’re young. We’ve got enough busboys. We’re bringing in busboys by the million through our immigration policy. We do not need a country of busboys. We’re destroying the country.” (On so many levels... just NO.)
Which brings me to an upcoming event taking place in Los Angeles and Boston—the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE)—which is experiencing a mass exodus of sponsors, speakers, and vendors due to its booking of Darth Sidious-like cyst Roger Stone as a keynote speaker.
If you don’t have your All-Stars of the GOP trading cards handy, Stone has a long career in politics that began with helping elect Richard Nixon (whose face he has tattooed on his back, and no, I’m not kidding). His morally dubious work continued through 2015, when Stone worked as Trump’s longest serving campaign advisor.
He also got himself banned—banned—from CNN and MSNBC after a series of tweets that attacked their correspondents and other members of the media, which included terms like “fat negro,” “stupid negro,” “tranny,” “disgusting lesbian dwarf,” “elitist cunt,” and literally more skin-crawling offerings than we have room in this column to reprint.
Then in 2013, Stone began working to legalize medical cannabis in Florida, and announced earlier this year that he’s forming a coalition to make sure Trump honors his campaign promise to let states decide their own policies for recreational and medical cannabis programs. (Is #goodfuckingluckwiththatdickwad a hashtag?)
When it was announced Stone would be speaking at the CWCBE, the Minority Cannabis Business Association was the first to announce they would be withdrawing in protest. This moved others to start a Change.org petition, and pressure began to build to have Stone dropped.
CWCBE Managing Partner Dan Humiston doubled down on his decision to book Stone, and responded to the withdrawals by saying, “I think he 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.”
There is a vast difference between being a conservative Republican who sees the prohibition of cannabis for what it is and wants to make things right, and a racist, misogynistic hatemonger who has spewed division for decades. We should embrace inclusiveness and bi-partisanship—much like Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer has with the Cannabis Caucus—but not at the cost of colluding with someone like Stone. Have a strong stomach? Check out Get Me Roger Stone on Netflix. There is nothing he does or says in that documentary that the cannabis industry should wish to be associated with.
Cannabis conservatives are always welcome, but fear-peddling horror shows like Stone are not. The industry doesn’t need anyone’s ear that much.