Conservative political operative Roger Stone has been publicly urging President Trump to legalize cannabis. Now, Stone is going even further by announcing a new non-profit organization to lobby for cannabis reform.
At the Cannabis World Congress and Expo (CWCB), Stone announced the launch of the bipartisan organization during a speech. “I am going to be working with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, progressives and libertarians, liberals, and conservatives to persuade the president to keep his campaign pledge, and to remind the president that he took a strong and forthright position on this issue in the election,” he said. The organization, called the United States Cannabis Coalition, has registered as a 527 nonprofit, a categorization that is also used by private political organizations who pursue their agendas at the federal level.
Stone has been identified as a friend and confidant of Trump, and their relationship reportedly spans decades. His involvement in the alleged hacking of the Democratic party is currently being investigated, and he has vehemently denied any affiliation with such activities. In all matters besides cannabis legalization and reform for how the federal government enforces illicit drugs, Stone is a staunch Libertarian by all accounts. But cannabis legalization advocates may be able to find an ally in Stone, as well as a partner in fighting the opioid crisis.
(Roger Stone photo)
“The facts are on our side—opioid addiction is down in the states that have legalized cannabis as are drug overdose deaths and all classes of petty non-violent crime. At the same time, we must increase public awareness of the millions in state revenues that state-approved cannabis is generating… and the thousands of jobs the multi-billion cannabis industry has created,” according to the USCC website. “Legalized cannabis has also crippled the drug cartels who extort those who are sick or dying.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump acknowledged multiple times his intention to make cannabis legalization a state issue, mimicking the Obama administration’s hands-off approach. While Stone previously chided President Obama for not rescheduling cannabis upon departing the White House, Obama had commented that legalization would require Congressional action, stating, “If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it.” Obama’s Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole went so far as to issue a memo that restricted the federal enforcement of cannabis in states that had already legalized. This was one of the largest steps any administration has taken to relax the federal prohibition of cannabis, even though no formal legislation was passed. In contrast, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly admonished medical cannabis patients and has plans to reignite the war on drugs.
But Sessions will find no support from Roger Stone, who took the opportunity to criticize Sessions during his comments at the CWCB. “In all honesty it’s time for [President Trump] to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut the shit,” he said.
Stone is one of the few political heavyweights who has seen the numbers regarding the support for cannabis legalization. Recent polling shows 89 percent of voters support the legalization of medical cannabis when prescribed by a physician, and 60 percent support fully legalizing cannabis. The data also shows that support is non-partisan. “It’s our intention to identify, reach, and mobilize millions of pro-cannabis voters to urge the President to keep his word,” said Stone. “It’s our intention to lobby the Trump Administration from the top down to recognize the medicinal value and economic potential of cannabis.”
Politically, supporting legalization appears to be a way to connect with voters, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” when asked about how the government will handle cannabis legalization in states who have already legalized.