Minority entrepreneurs, women in cannabis and the mighty Drug Policy Alliance got notorious Trump booster Roger Stone kicked out of this week's Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE) at the L.A. Convention Center.
But that doesn't mean the controversial political operative, who helped elect Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, isn't coming to town to talk about marijuana legalization anyway. Stone says he plans to hold a noontime rally today only "steps" from the expo. Or maybe it's tomorrow.
It's not clear exactly when Stone will appear, or if he'll be welcome. Stone emailed us late yesterday to say the event was Friday at noon. He originally sent us a statement indicating he planned to be at a venue near the Convention Center at noon on "Friday, Sept. 14." Friday is Sept. 15. His latest online missive on the controversy says he'll be appearing at noon on the 14th, with no day of the week specified.
A statement from Stone's camp describes the event as a "free" rally from noon to 1 p.m. at Alchemy Lounge downtown. The venue's managing partner, Mskindness B, says no one from Stone's camp has booked the space or even been in contact with her.
"He can have his rally on the street if he wants," she says. "We released a public statement letting him know, 'If you plan to hold a rally outside our space, we welcome you inside but only as part of an inclusive panel of diverse industry leaders'."
Indeed, the other wrinkle in Stone's plans is that tonight at 7 p.m., cannabis entrepreneur Bonita "Bo" Money and the group she founded, Women Abuv Ground, are hosting a "#DisownStone" CWCBE "afterparty" at ... Alchemy Lounge. Organizers plan to celebrate Stone's ouster from the convention.
"We are appalled but not shocked by Roger Stone's constant threats and retaliatory behavior since his removal from the CWCBE," Money said via email. "Now he is threatening to rally at the same venue Women Abuv Ground and other colleagues will be hosting our #DisownStone CWCBE afterparty. We feel the decision to cancel Roger Stone as a keynote speaker was a wise and sound decision made by CWCBE. It was definitely worth the fight. In order to maintain an inclusive environment, we cannot tolerate speakers that represent racism and sexism at any conference. Hopefully this experience will create change toward diversity and inclusion at all conferences moving forward."
Stone, who says he has libertarian, pro-legalization views on marijuana, recently helped to form a pro-pot group called the United States Cannabis Coalition. The expo boycott, led by groups including Women Abuv Ground and the Minority Cannabis Business Alliance, inspired the mighty Drug Policy Alliance to drop out of the CWCBE. Critics were concerned about past racist remarks made by Stone — for which he recently apologized — and about his investment in a Nixon administration that practically invented the war on drugs.
"We welcome Mr. Stone to exercise his First Amendment right and speak for this cause," Jesce Horton, chair of the minority alliance, said via email. "However, MCBA will not be a part of elevating his position."
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After Stone was dropped as a keynote speaker, the DPA announced to L.A. Weekly that it's back on board.
"The CWCBE did the right thing by disinviting Roger Stone as a keynote speaker at their conference," Ellen Flenniken, the DPA's managing director for development, said via email. "The Drug Policy Alliance stood in solidarity with our allies and community partners who made it clear that Stone’s starring role was not welcome. Now that our voices have been heard, we are happy to rejoin as a sponsor."
Stone, meanwhile, continues to lash out against critics in L.A.
"I will not be silenced by a small group of people who have accomplished nothing in the current struggle to preserve the states’ rights to legalize marijuana," he said in a statement. "I have the ear of the president. Do they?"