In a fashion now familiar to those following the current administration, longtime Trump backer Roger Stone lashed out at critics who are boycotting an upcoming marijuana convention that features him as a headlining speaker. "I will not be silenced," Stone said via email.
Multiple exhibitors and speakers have pulled out of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE), scheduled for Sept. 13-15 in Los Angeles, as a result of Stone's presence. The longtime political consultant, who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, was targeted mostly as a result of his support of the 45th president.
Seventeen speakers and seven sponsorship partners, including the Drug Policy Alliance, have pulled out of the event, boycott organizers say. The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) initiated the boycott last week after learning of Stone's appearance. A Change.org petition with more than 500 endorsements also is urging the expo to drop Stone. "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.
Boycott participants cited denigrating and racist remarks made by Stone, including that fellow expo speaker Rev. Al Sharpton is a "professional Negro," and argued that the timing, after the deadly white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, was bad. They also noted that Stone helped elect Nixon, an architect of the so-called "war on drugs" that's now being revived by Trump administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Stone suggested that the left-leaning website Media Matters for America and its founder, David Brock, were behind the boycott, which he described as a move inspired by a "recycled" and "phony charge that I am a racist."
The boycott, he said, is happening "despite my longtime activism in opposition to New York's draconian, racist Rockefeller Drug Laws dating to a speech I made at the Countdown to Justice Rally in New York City in 2003. Other speakers included Russell Simmons and Rev. Al Sharpton. My critics propose censorship."
"To be clear this manufactured 'boycott' is agitprop astro-turf, with all the usual trolls and bots featured in a heavy-handed but obvious smear campaign waged by David Brock and his minions," Stone wrote. "I will not be silenced in the fight for states' right to legalize a medicinally beneficial plant that helps millions of Americans."
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Boycott organizers scoffed at Stone's claim that a liberal conspiracy was behind the action.
"Mr. Stone's assertion that this is a smear campaign waged by his enemies is exactly the type of dismissive behavior he has displayed toward communities of color and women for years," Jesce Horton, co-founder and chairman of MCBA, said via email. "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."
Marijuana entrepreneur Bonita "Bo" Money, a co-signer to the Change.org petition's preamble, says, "All the women involved are veterans of the industry. We are pushing for legalization, not hate."