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Leafly Interview: Dirty Trickster Roger Stone Talks Cannabis Legalization & Trump

June 16, 2017
Roger Stone: Proving once again that cannabis legalization is a bipartisan issue. The man has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back. (Seth Wenig/AP)
Roger Stone, the notorious GOP political operative and longtime Donald Trump advisor, typically makes headlines for shadowy operations and unhinged outbursts. He’s been booted from Twitter for threatening journalists, once tweeting “DIE BITCH” at New York Times editor Jill Abramson. Racist, misogynist comments got him banned from CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News. Currently, he’s a figure of interest in the many investigations into the Trump campaign’s Russian connections. But this week he’s in the news for an unexpected and strangely welcome move: Stone has formed an organization to pressure President Trump to honor his states’ rights pledge regarding cannabis legalization.

Jeff Sessions is 'a Southern conservative hard-core right-wing drug warrior' who has 'probably seen the movie Reefer Madness a hundred times.'

Roger Stone, political operative

Stone filed paperwork earlier this week with the Internal Revenue Service to create the United States Cannabis Coalition, a nonprofit political organization with the same tax-exempt status as super-PACs that influence politicians and elections.

Stone is scheduled to detail the USCC’s plans in a keynote speech today at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in New York.

He spoke with Leafly on Thursday about his legalization advocacy and his new group.

“We have the ability legally to lobby, but [USCC is] really grassroots mobilization to remind the president to keep his pledge,” Stone told Leafly in a telephone interview from New York. “It’s a question of reaching people through every medium, whether it’s the Internet, cable TV, broadcast television, radio, blast emails or social media.”

Related

The Haymaker: Which Patients Will Sessions ‘Come After’ First?

For Trump, but Against Sessions

Stone said he’s troubled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent request to Congress to grant him authority to prosecute medical cannabis patients in states in which the botanical drug is legal — in direct opposition to a 2013 memo from President Barack Obama’s Attorney General upholding states’ rights. Stone called Sessions’ request “devastating.”

“The one good thing the Obama-Holder regime did was making a decision to stay the federal law regarding possession and distribution in the 29 states where the people have legalized marijuana,” Stone said. “Now Sessions threatens to reverse that.”

Related

Congress Set to Revive CARERS Act

Stone called Sessions “a Southern conservative hard-core right-wing drug warrior who has probably never smelled marijuana in his life and has probably seen the movie ‘Reefer Madness’ a hundred times.”

“He appears to be reflecting his own views rather than the views of the president,” Stone said. “I wish he would crack down on Barack Obama’s illegal surveillance of Americans through the NSA and stop worrying about re-criminalizing marijuana.”

Stand Down on the ‘Crackdown’ Talk

Joining Stone on the United States Cannabis Coalition advisory board are Tyler Nixon, a Denver cannabis attorney who is a great nephew of Richard Nixon; former Minnesota governor and former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura; Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, a former judge; and attorney John Morgan, an attorney who spearheaded medicinal cannabis legalization in Florida.

Jesse Ventura: On Stone's advisory board.

Jesse Ventura: On Stone’s advisory board.

Stone said he hopes to convince Trump to tell Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to stand down from “talking wistfully about a coming marijuana crackdown.”

“It’s important that the president realize that not only would that deny medical relief to millions of people but it would also deny states and counties hundreds of millions of dollars worth of revenue, revenue they’re already budgeting and counting on,” Stone said. “The state of Colorado has a surplus today because of their legalized cannabis industry. Take that away and they’re on the brink of bankruptcy, as are many states.”

Stone noted Trump could single-handedly remove cannabis from Schedule I, a status, on par with heroin, that classifies cannabis as having no known medical value despite state laws to the contrary.

“Trump can do it at a stroke of the pen or direct the Secretary of Health to do it,” Stone said. “One man can make this decision.”

Related

Jeff Sessions Asks Congress to End Medical Cannabis Protections

A Positive Move Would Be Politically Popular

For a president with record-low approval ratings and looming impeachment threats, re-scheduling cannabis would be a boon for Trump and for America, Stone said.

Trump could remove cannabis from Schedule I 'at the stroke of a pen.' It would be 'good policy, and good politics.'

Stone

“I think it would not only be good public policy,” Stone said, “I think it would be good politics.”

Stone called America’s 45-year-old War on Drugs “an expensive, ignominious, racist failure.”

“I think it would be fair to say drug use is a public-health issue rather than a criminal issue,” said Stone, whose political mentor, Richard Nixon, launched the War on Drugs during his first term in office. “I’m not talking about drug kingpins who sell heroin to children. I’m talking about the non-violent act of small amounts of drugs for personal use should not send a person to prison for 15 years.”

Stone, who remained close to Nixon after the disgraced president resigned from office midway into his second term, said his former mentor eventually admitted the War on Drugs was wrong.

“Only long after his presidency did he acknowledge that the War on Drugs had probably been a mistake,” Stone said. “But he only acknowledge that when I showed him the statistics.”

Stone said his coalition will also call for the U.S. to ease banking restrictions and to fund cannabis research.

“These kind of studies have been done in Israel with adequate funding and they’re really quite promising,” Stone said. “But we should have our own research.”

Ed Murrieta's Bio Image

Ed Murrieta

Ed Murrieta is a veteran lifestyle journalist and multimedia producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Cannabist, Wired.com, Leafly, and broadcast on the syndicated public radio show The Splendid Table.

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  • Jimmy Dean

    Dancing with the devil. You know if this guy is allocating a significant amount of his time and money to this agenda, he stands to make millions if not billions, and he cares not about the medical community. Or human beings for that matter.

    • Gary Craig

      I disagree with Stone on virtually everything he stands for. That being said if he can have any influence over Trump on this issue that would be a plus. I also believe Steve Bannon’s hand is in this. Pretty sure he’s an anti cannabis zealot.

  • lovingc

    Everyone needs a hobby. Stone will undoubtedly be interrogated in the investigations in to Trump and company. It will give him something to do while he is waiting for the other shoe to hit the floor.

  • Highway 69

    Removing cannabis from Schedule 1 would receive a sincere thank-you from many of us, but a single issue (even as significant as this) wouldn’t change our opinion of his leadership.

    • HappySmoke Hancho

      I voted Trump but am beginning to regret it. As far as I see it he’s no leader at all until he does just that, take Cannabis off schedule COMPLETELY! After that he needs to fire that stinky skunk Sessions!! He does that and I might begin to develop some respect for him

      • Highway 69

        Trump removing cannabis from Schedule 1 and firing Sessions won’t change who he is. A leopard can’t change his spots.
        Like I said, I’m not a one-issue voter — so, as happy as those two things would make me, I could never support him.

      • familyguy

        If that happen who’s to say he will not appoint another a$$hole. Chris Christy, then the industry is back on it’s heels. The Sessions appointment was a clear sign that Trump would not keep the promises he made during the campaign on cannabis (marijuana as the old timer calls it). He knew fully well Session’s stand on the issue. I am 60 and have never in my life time seen a president so preoccupied with to destroying the last President’s legacy that he has completely forgot to create his own legacy, and also trashed the promise he during the campaign on cannabis because everyone thought he was at least neutral with this issue.

      • Turdy Gurdy

        i love how armchair generals love
        to complain about lack of leadership
        in those who attempt to jump in
        where NO ONE else would DARE
        to jump!
        why do you think it’s being
        referred to as a “SWAMP”?
        have you ever tried to
        “lead” a herd of cats
        through a swamp?
        what do you think lives in
        a swamp?….
        snips and snails and puppy dog tails ????!
        WTH?!?!

  • It’s good that you were able to use this article about a guy working for legalization to take potshots at him and virtue-signal for yourself. Breath of fresh air.

  • Randy Roy Wahl

    Jeff Sessions hasn’t a preyor in his fight against the legalization of cannabis now that the world has recognized the truth of its many benefits. Its now either do or die.
    PS… and he can die trying!

  • Raul Tsi

    well, this is very interesting. makes for strange bedfellows indeed. I have to admit that if he’s anti-Sessions, that’s good for me. I lost an eye waiting for my state to get its act in gear on medicinal cannabis, I don’t plan to lose the other one. Hearing that dang self-righteous fool asking Congress to take it back to the dark ages disheartened me greatly last week.

    I so sincerely hope that he can convince the president to take cannabis off schedule 1 and preferably off the schedule entirely.

    • Jayne Dhoe

      How did you lose your eye due to no cannabis? I am sorry to hear that.

      • Raul Tsi

        I was maxed out on pharmaceuticals and they were ruining my life, I was narcoleptic, chronically thirsty and dehydrated from diuretic side effects and electrolytic imbalances and I was allergic to sunshine, which is a pretty severe problem for someone who worked outdoors. My state passed medicinal cannabis but took years to finally implement it. Meanwhile my sight was getting worse and I finally acquiesced to trabeculectomy surgery (if you have a strong stomach, watch youtube videos, not safe for lunch) on my good eye. 90 minutes after surgery, my retina blew off the back of my eye in a choroidal hemorrhage. A year and a half later, the first dispensary finally opened. Cannabis is the only thing that is saving my eyesight in my remaining eye, my doctor even said so. I was his first medicinal cannabis patient.

  • Mark

    I think its a cool chance at cooperation in a divided country, just think if weed could be the great get together

  • we the people could grow the economy with private sector local Jobs small business, 50,000 different consumers products can be made from this plant and we need factory Jobs this is our key to start the economy.

    • E.L. Bl/Du

      I agree, but the local politicians here said we cannot grow anymore within county limits, and on farm land. ONLY b/c 3 of them NOW own dispensaries. You can buy THEIRS, but not grow your own, if you DO find a place, it’s an additional 200 to register the site on top of the 200fee, and now they are limiting the state allotment also! I would rather grow, smoke, eat, tincture, salve my own, but THEY all want in. $$Commercialization is not legalization. THey took away my medical when rec became legal, the rednecks all freaked! Been growin 10 yrs legally, but not now. I hope they DO re-schedule it, its been BS from the beginning. Allot of problems might disappear.

  • Steven

    Roger Stone is awesome. He is no “dirty trickster.” That is your leftist bias showing itself. Stone is open-minded, and a strict pursuer of truth.

    • Jayne Dhoe

      He is a dirty trickster but sometimes they can be on the right side of an issue. Learn how to think non-dichotomously. However i do suspect he is just part of the corporate takeover. You are clearly a low information person, low something else too.

      • Steven

        Do not give me any advice.

        • Jayne Dhoe

          Clearly you need it.

        • Jayne Dhoe

          Clearly you are pretty stupid, like most males. Clearly you have not read a thing about Stone but are talking out of your scrotum.

          • Kraig

            Spoken like a true religious leftist. You hate sexism, but you spout it. The left has become what they hate in the far right. Grow up, smoke a joint, relax and look at what you’re saying. I’m sure you are still fuming and crying because Hilary lost. Adults get over outcomes they don’t like and move on.

      • mrdavidpayne

        @Jayne: WTF is wrong with you? Your opinions are just that and your childish name calling speaks more about you than you think.

      • freewheelinfranklin543

        You think with Cognitive Dissonance. Too bad.

  • Jen R

    Leafly subscribers regardless of political affiliation will surely rejoice at this development!

  • randolini

    Jeff Sessions is stupid and you can’t fix stupid. 60% of states have some form of MMJ and this clown thinks he is smarter and knows more than that 60%. He is supposed to work for “We the people” and we the people are showing more every day that we are tired of wasting more money on a racist drug war. LEGALIZE, REGULATE, TAX. Get law enforcement out of a public health issue. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.

  • Savior of the Golden Goddesses

    Half the weed smokers out there voted for Trump and have a ton of respect for Roger Stone – so a big ‘F’ you to Leafly for alienating all of us. We didn’t have anything against you before – but we do now.

    • 3vilmonkey

      ‘half’ of weed smokers voted for Trump? What brain-dead a$$ did did you pull that statistic out of?!? If I were to venture a reasonably educated guess, I’d say no more than 20% of pot smokers voted for Trump. You think angry, uneducated old white guys and evangelical christian fanatics are proponents of marijuana? I know voting for Trump AND having to live with yourself makes for a lot of self-deception, but don’t think the rest of us are going to believe your delusional nonsense.

      • Legalize420

        I hate to be real negative but I agree completely. There ARE more people running for office than just a “Democrat” or “Republican”. Anyone who voted trump or Hilary are hating life as nothing’s happening like they expected/wanted . If both choices are bad, there IS a third option. Personally I think everyone should have wrote in Sanders name, if the 2 top are equilly bad and theres a 3rd option u can go that route. Trump supporters are eating their words and hillary whining. Admit you screwed us and made a bad choice because you didnt think about the potential consequences and check all the facts before you made a life altering decision. Until people can see that their stubbornness is whatbcaused this mess, it will never end and we will go back and forth forever :-/

      • Savior of the Golden Goddesses

        Ha ha ha, yes we’re all just a bunch of uneducated sponges who somehow cleaned the toilet from one side of the country to the other with your face – Maybe you should just find a safe space for ‘Losers’ and have a group cry.

      • Kraig

        What an ignorant thing to say. “You think angry, uneducated old white guys and evangelical christian fanatics are proponents of marijuana?” I’m Libertarian and didn’t vote for Trump but I’d rather have him in than Hilary. I swear swear that politics has become a religion to people. Yes Trump does come off a rough around the edges and a bit of an arrogant moron but most politicians are. Most of my friends that enjoy cannabis are Libertarian or a little on the conservative side (not Religious right zellots). Some on the Left have become what they claim to hate; close minded, pretentious, divisive, intolerant of all positions they don’t agree with, and shutting down of conflicting ideas. If you disagree with the far left you are a bigot, racist, ignorant, ect. Cannabis is a personal liberty that adults should be able to make for themselves and more Republican’s than not believe this though all you see on any media is some religious ignorant person as a representative of “conservatives”. This isn’t a right or left issue this is a issue about our freedom to make life decisions without the government getting in our way.

  • John P Jordan

    Why don’t you use this information in the fight?

    https://www.medicaljane.com/2013/01/23/exposed-the-full-story-behind-why-marijuana-is-illegal-and-classified-as-a-schedule-1-drug/

    Cannabis was classified as a schedule 1 drug NOT BASED ON SCIENTIFIC STUDY OR MEDICAL RESURCH but solely based on a political and pharmaceutical fight for $$

    Read this article people! (The web link)

  • familyguy

    I think this is a move in the correct direction especially if Trump wants to better his approval rating. This would be a big boost. This would also be more inline with the promise Trump made in Nevada about letting states decide their future on cannabis legalization.

  • Jayne Dhoe

    This is still going to be one group of manthugs vs another. That is shit. Just shit, as usual. We need to start thinking of secession movements because we don’t need any of this wrangling shit. People can create an industry without any of these corporate politicians trying to take it over. This is how we lose power again and again. And moreover, they don’t want to do textiles here. They want to keep getting hemp from China. You can’t even get it from Canada. All from China so that we can continue to pay slaves instead of offering hemp here, which we should, AS textiles and not just Clif bars and shit like that. That’s what they will have us in. Fucking hempseed clif bars.

  • Chaddy Liquor Tits

    His last name is Stone .. ya gotta love that

  • Scott Adams

    “an expensive, ignominious, racist failure.” is what the Republicans thrive on.

  • calvet11

    WE the PEOPLE, have to stop putting up with this crap. Open defiance, get friends together and smoke where tobacco is allowed. Do the po-po want to arrest 10 people, 15 people, 20 people, being peaceful. NO THEY DO NOT! They will tell you to stop, “possibly” or move along, so move and spark up down the road a little. Cops still won’t want the hassle and leave you alone or get mad. If it’s mad, not MAD! say yes sir, no sir, I’ll stop right now sir, by the way I was just on my way to Bible Class. Have a super day officer. BA-BYE. If it’s “MAD”, or seriously” PISSED”, try NOT to have anything on you except nice normal people things, keys, wallet, change, please don’t have your favorite switch blade with you. DAAAAAAAAAA. Just one more thing——- Jeff Sessions and DEA head, Chuck Rosen…something, are both throw back, failed drug war campaigner’s, ASSHAT’S. Had to get that in.

  • Fester

    Even a giant a$$hole like Stone is right once in a while, just like Rohrabacher who’s wrong on almost everything but cannabis. In this war sometimes you have to dance with the devil.

    • calvet11

      All politicians are shit heel-assholes, that’s just the way it is. The trick is to get the shit heel- asshole politician to be on your side, and have him talk to one of his swamp creature buddies, get him to change his mind and so on and so forth. Before you know it the herd of politicians will slowly drift into the right direction. Or head for the hills and grow your own.

  • farmerlion

    Jeff Sessions is a major problem. Trump will be the first single term president since George Bush. Donald Trump needs to be a leader and stop acting like a hall monitor with pride issues. The Country needs many more small business owners not a few huge grow operations. Mom and pop grow operations have always provided the best cannabis and always will. Free the home growers and watch the quality explode along with our economy. Peace

  • Robert Wayne

    If Trump wants or cares about about another term, he should keep his campaign promise to see medical marijuana legalized.

  • jontomas

    So Nixon has to win the Emily Litella award for the century!

    >>>”Stone, who remained close to Nixon after the disgraced president resigned from office midway into his second term, said his former mentor eventually admitted the War on Drugs was wrong. — “Only long after his presidency did he acknowledge that the War on Drugs had probably been a mistake,” Stone said. “But he only acknowledged that when I showed him the statistics.”

    ‘Oh. – Never mind.’

    [Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!!!!!]

  • Gary Craig

    While it’s true Trump could legalize with “the stroke of a pen” he won’t. Trump, like those before him, has fallen in line. He will undo Obama’s cannabis policy and because more Democrats want legalization he’ll make it a partisan issue. I don’t think Stone has much sway with Trump.

  • blank

    ok i see alot of fighting and name calling. bottom line is the government was created to speak for the people. it clearly states this in the constitution and other documentations. the problem is the government of time has decided we the people do not matter. they take laws and other matters in their own hands instead of listing to what the people want. honestly all bills should be decided by the people not a group of rich people that ignore what they dont agree with. i fully agree that cannabis should be legalized and taxed like smokes and alcohol. it is a health choice and should not be prosecuted any more than alcohol or cigarettes. if the government wants to make a decision on facts then they need to actually do research.An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually,alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths annually on average, you would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times your average dose in order for marijuana to kill you. That would be about 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes. if they should ban any thing it should be alcohol.

  • Jen Evans Colville

    i completely agree with what Roger Stone has said. i don’t think people understand that President Trump isn’t like an evil GOP/republican. he is so moderate when it comes to this and so is Stone. the Russian rhetoric has to stop especially if want Trump to decriminalize marijuana and many agree. i agree. i think it’s a mistake to place marijuana same schedule as heroin just like saying opioids are same as heroin. this war has to end. especially when there is obviously medical value with marijuana especially with no side effects like so many medications. it’s time to start putting Trump in a more correct and accurate light as well as Stone. there is no proof with “several russian investigations “. if you and your readers want this than really think and understand that it makes it look like marijuana and drugs are actually inciting violence. you can be in the middle of this. you don’t have to choose sides but understand Trump and Stone are not like the republican party was even a decade ago. trump isn’t bush. I really think this is how to win the war on heroin and many harmful drugs. allowing marijuana to be grown here vs Mexico. stop giving Mexico and drug cartels power. but be fair. if you want this than stop writing about Russian investigations because unfortunately your great articles will be overlooked. give Trump a reason to see the good in medical marijuana and the good of decriminalizing it and go after the real criminals.

  • Tom R

    He supports us and your stupid ass insults him. You brilliant dumbass.

  • DR Rot

    jeff reefer madness sessions neEds to be kicked to the curb or shut his piehole about cannabis .. it never should have been scheduled at any rate an this man is out his mind,, think hes on bath salts .. the boy aint there .. the old goat needs to step back on the legit pain patient community an the drs that help THEM … this is not a prescribed medication epidemic its the fentanyl heroin crisis that is droppin peeps like flies.. stop that shit from getting in n on the streets and focus on that .. you do more good an if you get your way you’ll end up killing people off that have done nothing wrong but be in a severe debilitating pain an cannot have a normal semblance of life without these meds … back the f off sessions… an cdc fda big gv needs to stay out of personal mATTERS ..