One of the largest cannabis business expos on the planet is facing backlash over its selection of a controversial Donald Trump ally as its keynote speaker for its September 13-15 event in Los Angeles, sparking a boycott movement and the social media hashtag #DisownStone.
Roger Stone is a self-described political dirty trickster whose earliest shenanigans were telling fellow schoolchildren a lie that Richard M. Nixon would institute school on Saturdays if he was elected in 1960.
Stone then converted to conservatism during Barry Goldwater’s doomed 1964 run and later became a member of Nixon’s infamous CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President), and at age 19 was the youngest person to testify in the hearings over Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
By the 1980s, Stone had been mentored by Lee Atwater, the architect of the “Southern Strategy” that used rhetorical code to appeal to white racist voters. Atwater had successfully deployed Reagan/Bush-era talking points about “Cadillac-driving welfare queens,” a “crack-baby epidemic” and the scaremongering “Willie Horton ad.” Atwater explained his tactics in a 1981 interview:
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. So, you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.'”
In 2000, Stone was instrumental in assuring the Supreme Court’s selection of George W. Bush as president, thanks to his incitement of the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot,” where pro-Bush protestors stormed election offices and halted the Miami-Dade presidential vote recount.
Now, Atwater’s protégé Roger Stone has formed a non-profit called the U.S. Cannabis Coalition with the goal of finding bipartisan solutions to ending marijuana prohibition, touting his closeness to Donald Trump as a potential means of generating positive cannabis support from the White House. It’s for that reason that the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE), which holds events across the country, has invited him to give the keynote speech.
It’s not just that Stone is a conservative disciple of Nixon, Atwater, Reagan, Bush, or even that he supports Donald Trump that has some activists boycotting CWCBE.
It’s Stone’s own racism and misogyny that he routinely employs in service of the conservative agenda that makes him unfit for a speaking role.
Media Matters for America has documented some of Stone’s more offensive comments, where he’s fallen somewhat short of Atwater’s admonition to speak in subtle racist code:
2008: Stone pushes a rumor that there is a tape on which Michelle Obama can be heard criticizing “whitey.” No such tape or quote has ever been proven to exist.
2011: Stone explains how former presidential candidate Herman Cain is “definitely blacker” than MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton.
2016: Stone tweets that CNN commentator Roland Martin is a “stupid negro” and a “fat negro.”
2016: Stone tweets that MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton is a “professional negro” who likes fried chicken.
2016: Stone tweets that Herman Cain is “a Mandingo.”
2016: Stone tweets that Roland Martin is a “token.”
2016: Stone says he convinced Donald Trump “There’s A Lot Of Questions” about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Roger Stone is even less subtle when it comes to denigrating women:
2011: Stone alleges that commentator “Arianna Huffington has the hots for Herman Cain and wants to do him,” referring to Huffington as “#hotgreek” and Cain as “#hungamerican.“
2014: Stone tweets that Florida politician Barbara Stern is a “self-important, nasty cunt.”
2015: Stone forms anti-Hillary Clinton PAC called Citizens United Not Timid (C.U.N.T.), after he admits he spent “hours trying to come up with words for B.I.T.C.H. and just couldn’t do it.”
2016: Stone tweets that journalist Jill Abramson should “DIE BITCH!”
2016: Stone tweets that New York Times columnist Gail Collins is an “elitist cunt.”
2016: Stone tweets that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly has a “nice set of cans.”
Stone is also an equal-opportunity bigot, who is easily able to denigrate the Latinx, LGBT, disabled and Muslim communities, too:
2015: Stone tweets that CNN’s Roland Martin and Ana Navarro are “quota hires.”
2016: Stone tweets that “black beans and rice didn’t miss” CNN’s Ana Navarro.
2016: Stone’s tweet calls MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow “Rachel the muff-diver.”
2016: Stone mocks paralyzed conservative Charles Krauthammer by telling him to “stand the fuck up.”
2016: Stone alleges that Gold Star father Khizr Khan wants to “initiate Sharia Law” in America.
Stone also isn’t shy about inciting violence against his political enemies:
2012: Stone twice offers a “$1000 bounty… to anyone who punches out [MSNBC’s] Chris Matthews.”
2014: Stone tweets (since deleted) that Hillary Clinton should be “executed for murder.”
2014: Stone tweets that Sen. Bernie Sanders is a “Soviet Agent” who “should be arrested for treason and shot.”
2016: Stone argues in his book that Bill & Hillary Clinton are “plausibly responsible for the deaths” of roughly 40 people.
This #DisownStone boycott was started when Jesce Horton, the African-American man who heads the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), withdrew from his speaking spot at the CWCBE, citing Stone’s legacy of hatred.
In response, CWCBE’s Scott Giannotti told Horton, “how dumb you people are” and alleged Horton was only withdrawing because of allegiance to competitors’ “ALL WHITE CONFERENCES.”
But while MCBA, the Cannabis Industry Journal and established activism heavyweights like Dr. Amanda Reiman are rejecting CWCBE and supporting the boycott, not everyone in the cannabis community agrees.
John Morgan, the wealthy trial lawyer who helped bankroll Florida’s medical marijuana amendment, told POLITICO by email, “It’s a mistake. Roger has the president’s ear. Politics is not pretty. Sometimes politics makes strange bedfellows. This is such a time. With the stroke of a pen, Trump could make MJ schedule 2. And it would be right and his ratings would soar.”
Marc Emery, the Canadian seed impresario and activist, told me via Twitter: “Disagree with you on that @RadicalRuss Belville. Morgan’s pragmatism on working with White House advisor the effective strategy.”
Dan Humiston, the head of CWCBE, told Cannabis Industry Journal, “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.”
Look, “strange bedfellows” is one thing; I have cannabis activist allies who disagree with me vehemently on gun policy, abortion rights, military spending, immigration enforcement, socialized medicine, Middle East negotiations, gay rights and many more issues.
None of my allies so casually call people “negroes,” “cunts,” “Mandingoes,” “bitches,” “tokens,” “muff-divers” or “quota hires.” None of my allies would be comfortable leveraging the hatred of people who think like that to justify progress on marijuana reform.
One of the biggest issues we are facing as we move into legalization is the phenomenon of “blacks did time/whites make dimes”—how people of color were disproportionately targeted and punished for marijuana sales during prohibition and now they’re shut out of profiting from marijuana sales under legalization.
In that context, placing Roger Stone on a pedestal at one of the largest cannabis industry conferences is the apotheosis of Caucasian cannabis community color blindness and tone deafness. #DisownStone