By Roger Stone
I am used to CNN acting as a propagandist rather than a news organization, but the Cable News Network’s coverage of my keynote speech to the 2017 Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in New York City last week really underlines the extent to which CNN is fake news.
Speaking at the exposition, I announced that I would be working with Democratic Party activist, marijuana advocate, and Orlando Florida trial attorney John Morgan, in a bipartisan coalition called The United States Cannabis Coalition (USCC). We will persuade President Trump to honor the commitment he made during the Presidential campaign to support state’s rights to legalize cannabis and to protect the medicinal marijuana industry in the 29 states that have legalized it.
I also pointed out that Attorney General Sessions announced position that the DOJ should begin enforcing Federal law against possession and distribution in those states is inconsistent with the President’s position. Incredibly, CNN Reporter Aaron Smith fails to mention this conflict which was the entire crux of my remarks.
Specifically, Smith wrote “He (Stone) spent much of his speech bashing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes legalization. He called out Sessions for a recent request to Congress for approval to crack down on state-legal marijuana”, which is out of context without reference to the President’s stated position in the campaign. Fake news indeed.
CNN reported that the principle objective of the United States Cannabis Coalition is the legalization of cannabis at the federal level when in fact I made it clear that legalization by the US Congress, a long and difficult battle, was a last resort in the event that a runaway Justice Department reverses what President Trump outlined in the campaign.
I did make it clear that in addition to our efforts to urge the President to honor his pledge to support medicinal marijuana that we would advocate for the rescheduling of cannabis which is currently on the Schedule I list. With the rescheduling of cannabis, physicians could prescribe cannabis for their patients who could medicinally benefit. We also advocate new and adequate funding for unbiased research into the potential medicinal and commercial uses of cannabis and hemp. Well-funded and broadly conducted research in Israel has indicated that these plants have enormous potential for health benefits, healing and inexpensive industrial use.
CNN also tried to dispute my claim to having communicated with other pro-Cannabis organizations prior to the launch of the USCC. A spokeswoman for NORML initially denied that I had any contact with the group but then later admitted that I had spoken to a “board member”. In fact, my conversations with NORML were not with just a board member but with the chairman of the organization, who confirmed that he was fully supportive.
That I am undertaking this fight should be a surprise to no one. I have written in support of and marched for drug law reform for over 20 years. Leaving decisions to the individual about what they will ingest, smoke or who they will marry to me seems to be the essence of pro-liberty conservatism in the tradition of Barry Goldwater, who wanted government out of the bedroom and out of the boardroom. It’s big state liberalism that seeks to impose on us what the government will allow in terms of our personal habits and activities.
The response at the CWCB Expo was encouraging. I stress that the challenge ahead is daunting. Donald Trump has expressed skepticism about the war on drugs and posited legalization as a solution almost 15 years ago. More recently however the President was quoted as saying that Colorado’s highly successful legalization of Cannabis has been “a disaster”. In view of the multi-million-dollar revenue the legalization of Cannabis has brought Colorado and the drop in Opioid deaths, opioid addiction, drug overdose deaths and all petty crimes, it’s hard to understand where the President could have gotten this disinformation.
In my 40-year relationship with Donald Trump I have noted that when he has all of the information, he almost invariably makes the right decision. The President is not an ideologue but rather a pragmatist guided by common sense; he is interested in real results rather than philosophical purity. I am convinced he will see the correctness of the position he forthrightly took during the Presidential campaign to support the people’s decision to legalize medicinal marijuana.
The principal purpose of the United States Cannabis Coalition is to persuade the President to honor that commitment. Additionally, we plan to urge the President to reclassify Cannabis and take it off the Schedule I list, so that physicians nationwide could prescribe it for patients who they believe it would benefit.