Biros' Blog

CWCBExpo: Cut Ties with Roger Stone

By Aaron G. Biros

We support the Minority Cannabis Business Association’s decision to withdraw its speakers after the conference booked Roger Stone, a notorious political lobbyist.

Update: According to a press release, the CWCBExpo removed Roger Stone as the scheduled keynote speaker for the Los Angeles and Boston shows. We applaud their decision. 

Earlier today, the Minority Cannabis Business Association published a Facebook post: “As a result of CWC choosing this guy as their keynote speaker, MCBA has decided to withdraw from attendance and speaking roles at this conference. CWC, you know better so there’s no excuse not to do better.” We at Cannabis Industry Journal would like to voice our support for the MCBA and join them in their withdrawal. We will no longer be a media partner of any CWCBExpo events, unless they remove Roger Stone from the keynote slot.

Roger Stone’s Shady Past

The Facebook post from MCBA

Stone is quite the polarizing figure with a mile-long political career rife with controversy and extraordinary clientele. He co-founded a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort in 1980. In the 1970’s, Stone helped Richard Nixon get elected, the man responsible for the War on Drugs, and proceeded to serve in his administration. In the 1980’s, he never strayed far from controversy. He helped bribe lawyers to help get Reagan elected, and even did lobbying work on behalf of two dictators.

Fast-forward to the 2016 presidential election and Stone’s racism starts to come to light. Although he left the Trump campaign in August of 2015, he remained a loyal supporter. In February of 2016, CNN banned Stone from their network for disgusting tweets about correspondents. He called one CNN commentator a “stupid negro” and another an “entitled diva bitch.” MSNBC subsequently banned him from their network two months later. While he said he “regrets” saying those, he never issued a formal apology. A majority of his tweets are too offensive to republish, but if you need more proof, click here.

Roger Stone
(Photo credit: Barbara Nitke, Netflix)

He accused Khizr Khan, a Pakistani-American whose son was a war hero in Iraq, of being a “Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary.” That is far from the only conspiracy theory he has circulated. He also said Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton at the time, was in the Muslim Brotherhood. He’s written a number of books with rampant, false allegations, like Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family, The Clintons’ War on Women and The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. His role in the Trump campaign is a part of the Russian election hacking congressional investigation. He’s credited with introducing Alex Jones, the falsehood-spreading, InfoWars conspiracy theorist, to Donald Trump. On the night of the election, he tweeted a racist photo that is not fit for republication.

Why is this relevant?

Because all of a sudden he is an advocate for cannabis legalization. In 2013, he started working in Florida to help legalize medical cannabis there. According to a CWCBExpo press release, when he keynoted their New York conference this year, he announced that he was starting a sort of bipartisan coalition to persuade President Trump to follow through with his campaign promises to respect states’ rights with regard to legal, medical cannabis. “I am going to be working with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, progressives and libertarians, liberals, and conservatives to persuade President Trump to keep his campaign pledge, and to remind the president that he took a strong and forthright position on this issue in the election,” says Stone at the New York show. Dan Humiston, managing partner of CWCBExpo, says, “We are thrilled to have Roger Stone keynote again during CWCBExpo Los Angeles & Boston.”

CIJ reached out to the CWCBExpo for comment and Dan Humiston, managing partner, stands by their decision to keep him booked as the keynote speaker:

“Our objective as a show producer in the cannabis industry is we are trying to do whatever we can to help grant access to this plant for anybody that needs it. And to do that we feel that we have to be as inclusionary as we can possibly be. It is nothing more than that. I think there are some real benefits to the cannabis movement that will be gained by getting as many people under our tent as we can. Its funny how this plant brings people together who aren’t together under any other topic; it creates the strangest of bedfellows. The more dialogue and more opportunities to speak with people we can’t agree on any other topic with, the better. I think he is an asset to this movement. He has raised a lot of money. He is pushing Jeff Sessions really hard and he’s got Donald Trump’s ear.”

CIJ also reached out to Reverend Al Sharpton, who is booked for a keynote presentation at the same conference, and he had this to say: “I was not aware that the minority cannabis business association pulled out from the conference,” says Rev. Sharpton. “I spoke at the conference in New York, and I am working with Senator Corey Booker on the legalization of cannabis. Our communities have been directly affected by the criminalization of the drug.” He said he was unaware of the MCBA’s statements and asked for them to get in touch with him as soon as possible.

There’s no place for racism in the cannabis industry.

Yes, it’s great to have an ally of cannabis legalization who might have Trump’s ear. But no, we don’t want Stone’s help. There is no place for someone like him in the cannabis industry.

The historical implications of racism in the cannabis legalization movement should speak for themselves, but allow me to try and quickly summarize why this is so important. The word marijuana is actually a dated racist epithet that Harry Anslinger used back in the 1930’s to promulgate myths that the drug was used by people of color and fostered violence. “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage,” said Anslinger, testifying before Congress. And so begins the era of “Reefer Madness” when the drug became illegal. Fast-forward half a century and the racism with cannabis continues. According to the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the War on Drugs is the main reason behind the huge incarceration numbers for people of color. “The U.S. ‘war on drugs’ — a decades-long policy of racial and class suppression hidden behind cannabis criminality — has resulted in the arrest, interdiction, and incarceration of a high percentage of Americans of color,” reads their agenda.

There are still a lot of racial problems the legalization movement is working to address. There are dozens of reasons why people of color have been wrongly persecuted due to the illegality of cannabis, but the point is this: The cannabis legalization movement needs to be a diverse, inclusive community that promotes equality and embraces all religions, races and ethnicities.

In choosing Roger Stone to keynote, the CWCBExpo is making a Faustian bargain and we don’t believe this is right. We need to stand by our morals; the ends don’t justify the means. The cannabis industry is no place for racism and we would like to see Roger Stone removed from the keynote position at CWCBExpo.


  1. Steven Langer

    Of course Stone’s not a racist, just a guy who is willing to help change federal policy, someone who doesn’t just pretend he has access – he has proven access.

    But by all means, follow the lead of industry players with zero capacity to help the situation and a blog with zero impact. Let’s pretend Stone is a bigot – one of he GOP’s first leaders to endorse gay marriage and legal weed. Sure. Let’s just follow the progs who just want to drag our movement into the national mess they’re making.

    Yeah, let’s follow these losers. See how being completely irrelevant helps the industry.

    1. Aaron Biros Post author

      Hey Steven, thanks for your input.

      Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you. I think I have presented more than enough evidence to suggest the contrary to what you are saying. A man’s words speak for his character. Not to mention, proven access to Donald Trump means nothing to me. Time and again, those closest to Trump have failed to persuade him on the most basic of issues.

      And thanks for reading our “blog with zero impact.”

      1. jim

        Why do we care what he believes. I drink at bars, with white supremacists everyday. What do we do, say they can’t drink there. No one segment of our populace will legalize anything. Are you saying a white supremacist shouldn’t be allowed to lobby for pot legalization ?? You folks let your religions and your politics get in the middle of right & wrong. And the worst think they are better than anyone else !! I have no religion & I stand ready to vote for either party. And both parties are corrupt, George Washington was corrupt, so was all our founders. And I will believe nothing you say Donald, till you show us your tax returns, but you will resign before you do , because me and many more believe it will expose your Russian connection. Pot legalization is now about big $$, not prohibition. I certainly hope the right & the left can find a way to coexist. Me, I’ll just take another toke, and watch the planet spin !! And thanks for your opinion Steven, I do read a lot of your posts.

  2. Andrea Skolnik

    If Roger Stone is in any way involved it is to further one of his political dirty tricks or cause simple division or crate media drama .
    This sounds like when he and his ex wife Ann started Republicans For Choice to divide the Republican base over the issue of Abortion .
    They collected massive amounts of money and never ran a pro choice candidate , The money mysteriously went unaccounted for .
    An archive on Roger can be accessed on Facebook here along with datadump archives of his life work .

  3. Chet Billingsley

    We are all still fighting a huge residual anti-pot bias in the USA. You don’t build your church by converting the true believers, you convert the heathens. The MCBA is in the unique position of being able to call out Republicans and suggest that much of the historic marijuana prohibition origins and disparate impact are race based. Republicans (who are in power) could be pressured to join the fight to help fix this so that Republicans may report and take this one particular step away from racism. When one of the heathens agrees to help promote cannabis and in that way reduce the grip of some of the race based underpinnings still attached to marijuana, his conversion should be supported by any organization that is primarily supporting cannabis. This is similar to the old strategy, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” However, organizations primarily supporting minorities may have a different set of priorities and may reach a different conclusion. My philosophy is I don’t see color, I see hearts.

  4. John Holmstrom

    Let’s see now… Roger Stone has close ties with Donald Trump… Donald Trump is now the president of the United States… As president, he could legislate medical marijuana with a stroke of the pen… Roger Stone has announced plans to meet with Donald Trump to have him do this… Yes, this is the person you want to boycott if you are the Cannabis Industry Journal. CRAZY!!!

  5. Chris Davis

    I dont stand with people who stand with Nazis. Stone stands with and literally depends on Nazis and White Nationals for his base and his clients base. Why this man was even suggested to join your group is mind blowing.

  6. Adam Koh

    Thanks for your strong and well-reasoned stand on this issue, Aaron. I too support the MCBA’s decision to pull out of the CWC. The racist views of Stone – and Trump – should be unacceptable in a civilized society. It is a shame how much people are willing to compromise basic decency for the possibility of ingratiating themselves with people such as Stone and Trump that are known to lie, engage in unethical behavior, and screw over people that work with them, in addition to their bigoted views. You can’t dance with the devil and not expect to get burned.

  7. Dave

    “All of a sudden” he is an advocate for cannabis legalization? He’s been pro-legalization for a long time. In any event, with so many minorities whose lives have been needlessly ruined by prohibition, not accepting Stone’s help is a terrible mistake. The war on drugs is a lot more harmful to people of color than what Trump says (or doesn’t say) about a handful of “Nazi” wannabes. Do some research on the devastation wrought on black men (and their families) by being incarcerated simply for marijuana possession before patting yourself too hard on the back for being too pure for actual change.

  8. . .

    Retail cannabis consumers have their lips near the cannabis industry’s tail pipe, and it is GOOD.
    We should all remember. Truth unites. Falsehood divides. God and God alone created and blessed
    seed bearing herbs, with intent to distribute.

  9. EnactA2

    Umm…did anyone forgot Roger Stone collaborated with Russian government hacker(s), Guccifer 2.0, who attacked our nation? Not only is Roger Stone a disgusting human, he’s a racist, bigot, liar, and is willing to collaborate with foreign enemies if he thinks he can score political points.

    This is so wrong. Roger Stone belongs in jail, not at a lectern.

    I have been working with MMJ for far longer than most, 4 decades, and I am an expert in plant science wrt Cannabis spp. physiology, production, and processing. It is sad to see where some people in our community are willing to go, and who their willing work with. Shame is all I can say…

  10. Chris

    The problem is he doesn’t care about the movement. He is and always will be a devil with ulterior motives. Don’t let your desire to see this issue corrected to allow you to be fleeced by con-artists and manipulators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *