- 17 Oct 2019
Can an Inclusive Cannabis Industry Include Roger Stone?
It was high noon when I arrived at the Alchemy Lounge, a “members-only social club” with a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bud) policy when it comes to on-site vaping. The lounge is located directly across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was convenient for me since I’d just come from the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBE)—a marijuana industry trade show with a LYBAH (Leave Your Bud at Home) policy that was really harshing my mellow.
I didn’t leave the convention center (just) to get blazed, however.
I made my way over to the Alchemy to hear a speech by longtime political dirty trickster Roger Stone, who was originally booked to give that day’s keynote address at the CWCBE, but got dumped by Expo organizers after a #DisownStone movement sprung up on social media. CWCBE higher-ups at first pushed back against this online pressure campaign, then—facing bad press and a snowballing boycott from sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and attendees—they waved the white flag and put out a press release disinviting their main attraction, without ever saying why.
The closest they came to an explanation was a single sentence that mixed a smug humble brag with a bit of virtue-signaling and just a dash of snowflaking.
“The forums created by CWCBE are crucial to the growth and legalization of the cannabis industry and they supersede the distractions that have surrounded the event.”
Well, at least that prepared statement struck a more diplomatic tone than CWCBE managing partner Scott Giannotti, who earlier made the claim (without evidence) on Facebook that the expo has the most “politically and culturally diverse conference program in the cannabis industry,” before offering to show critics like the Minority Cannabis Business Association “how dumb you people are.”
Perhaps Giannotti was simply following the sage advice of Roger Stone, who includes among his Stone’s Rule’s for political combat the following:
Attack, attack, attack… never defend.
Never Apologize…for Getting the Date Wrong
And speaking of Roger Stone—where the hell was he?
After being dumped by the CWCBE organizers, Stone had alerted friends, foes, and of course the media that he’d give his keynote speech at the Alchemy Lounge instead.
It was well past noon when I overheard a huddle among the ostensible organizers of this renegade speaking engagement. He’s not coming. At least not today. Maybe tomorrow.
Turns out the initial official announcement of the speech got the day wrong. And I wasn’t the only one left hanging. About twenty people showed up, including Omar Navarro, a Republican Congressional candidate for California’s 43rd District, and a member of Roger Stone’s newly formed United States Cannabis Coalition. Navarro departed quickly after discovering the headliner’s a no-show. I stuck around to share a little cannabis with members of the gathering and work through the ethical conundrum that is Roger Stone.
My first foray did not go well. I sidled up on some young wannabe Roger Stone YouTubers and looked for a way to join their conversation. But they were here for the spectacle, uninterested in anything beyond the impending pie fight. They were like the most evil/banal comments section on the internet come to life. I listened as they spewed out a long list of offenses committed by their perceived enemies, immediately followed by a meta-lamentation about how easily offended everyone is these days.
Feeling discouraged and displaced, I found an empty couch in the back of the room where I could get high in peace and collect my thoughts about Roger Stone.