MIAMI — A group of marijuana activists is calling for a boycott of a major cannabis exposition because its keynote speaker next month will be Roger Stone, a longtime President Donald Trump adviser, infamous political trickster and longtime drug-decriminalization advocate.
Stone recently won praise from cannabis activists after announcing he would help lead a bipartisan group — with the help of Florida medical-marijuana godfather John Morgan — that’s dedicated to persuading the Trump administration to not penalize medical marijuana states and to consider rescheduling the drug at the federal level to recognize the therapeutic properties of cannabis.
But after Trump’s incendiary comments about the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia — coupled with Stone’s history of making inflammatory remarks — four speakers and one sponsor of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition say they’ll boycott if Stone speaks Sept. 13-15 in Los Angeles and at another expo event in Boston from Oct. 4-6.
“Totally a Media Matters for America hit campaign … funded by George Soros,” Stone told POLITICO Florida, blaming the liberal advocacy group that has hounded him and made him a feature on its website.
The boycott call began last week when the Minority Cannabis Business Association blasted Stone in a Facebook post and said it wouldn’t participate.
The Cannabis Industry Journal and Weed News weighed in against Stone as the boycott call caught fire.
“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,” Weed News wrote. “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.”
The head of the expo, Dan Humiston, told the Cannabis Industry Journal that Stone will still speak and that he believed “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. 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.”
The journal, however, said that while “it’s great to have an ally of cannabis legalization who might have Trump’s ear … we don’t want Stone’s help. There is no place for someone like him in the cannabis industry.”
For Morgan, a major Democratic donor and possible gubernatorial candidate who underwrote Florida’s successful medical marijuana initiative in 2016, the boycott is counterproductive.
“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 wrote by email. “With the stroke of a pen Trump could make MJ schedule 2. And it would be right and his ratings would soar.”