Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone this week issued an apology to those offended by his past racist remarks. The mea culpa came as minorities and major marijuana groups are boycotting his scheduled appearance at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE), scheduled for Sept. 13-15 at the L.A. Convention Center.
Stone's opponents were unfazed and now plan to protest outside the event, according to Bonita "Bo" Money, a cannabis entrepreneur helping to organize demonstrators. Stone's keynote address has inspired the Drug Policy Alliance and several speakers and sponsorship partners to drop out of the expo. They've cited Stone's past remarks, his support of Trump — whose administration appears to be renewing the war on drugs — and his past support of drug war architect Richard Nixon.
Stone, who advised the campaigns of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, apologized for years-old, racist remarks made about several prominent African-Americans, whom he described using the world "Negro." "I am many things but I am not a racist," Stone said in a statement sent yesterday to the Weekly and other outlets.
"There is no doubt that some of my tweets are too pungent and politically incorrect for my critics," Stone said. "I did use a word used by the U.S. Census until 2011 that some construed to be a racial epitaph in tweets regarding Herman Cain, Dr. Ben Carson, Alan West and Roland Martin. In retrospect, I see that this attempt at sarcasm can be seen as a slur, therefore I heartfully apologize to all this [sic] gentleman."
Last week Stone told L.A. Weekly exclusively he believed the left-leaning website Media Matters for America and its founder, David Brock, had surreptitiously organized the boycott. It was an argument organizers of the protest, including Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), said they found almost laughable. "The idea that cannabis business owners and activists can't assess for ourselves his deplorable rhetoric and his camp's self-serving intentions in the cannabis industry is sad," Jesce Horton, co-founder and chairman of MCBA, said via email last week.
Money, who helps minorities learn about the business through her group Women Abuv Ground, said the apology would have no effect. "He wants to act like we don't exist," she says. "He has real opposition from people in the industry."
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Stone notes that he's been pro-pot for some time, regardless of the Trump administration's latest stance. In fact, he said in his email to us last week, "We launched the United States Cannabis Coalition, a bipartisan ad hoc organization, to urge President Trump to keep his historic pledge to let the states decide on the legalization of the sale of marijuana and to urge the president to remove cannabis from the Schedule I drug classification so that doctors can prescribe it for their patients who could benefit."
In his latest salvo, Stone said that while he supported Nixon, he also has a "libertarian streak," has long been critical of the war on drugs and has supported pot legalization campaigns in Florida. "You don’t need to agree with me or my politics nor do I need to agree with yours to work together in this vital effort," he said yesterday.
The expo is also subject of a Change.org petition that urges Stone's removal from the lineup. "Inviting Mr. Stone to speak to the crowd, especially as we see the rise of overt racism and anti-Semitism, is an affront to the very movement you purport to promote," according to the petition.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was expected to speak, but protesters have been privately urging him to pull out.