This article is published in collaboration with Scutify, where you can find real-time markets and stock commentary from Robert Marcin, Cody Willard and others. Download the Scutify iOS App, the Scutify Android App or visit Scutify.com.
Derek Thomas – Political Analyst
All this time we've been wondering who the pro marijuana voice of reason in the Trump's circle would be. With so many in Trump's campaign that are clearly prohibitionist, the chances of any real supporters seemed slimmer than ever.
Then, six months into Trump's presidency, an incredibly stunning development has breathed new life into the hopes of marijuana supporters around the country.
Roger Stone, a staunch conservative and controversial figure, has been a longtime adviser to President Trump. On Friday at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in New York Stone announced the formation of the bipartisan United States Cannabis Coalition, an advocacy group with the goal of protecting state's rights to legalize and regulate marijuana.
The USCC is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit section 527, which is the same tax-exempt status that applies to political action committees.
In the announcement at the CWCB Expo, Stone said "I am going to be working with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, progressives and libertarians, liberals, and conservatives to persuade the president to keep him campaign pledge, and to remind the president that he took a strong and forthright position on this issue in the election."
Among the notable list of both Republican and Democrat political strategists joining the group is former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura. Stone and Ventura plan to hold Trump accountable to his stance expressed on The O'Reilly Factor in 2016 where he stated marijuana should be a state issue and he expressed "100% support for medical marijuana." Additionally, they will look to ensure protection for recreational marijuana in states that have legalized it.
Beyond outright legalization, Stone said another of USCC's missions will be to reschedule marijuana nationally to allow doctors to legally prescribe it and open up avenues of research. Other missions include ensuring the federal government won't interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, advocating for a fair tax policy for cannabis businesses, and fair and equal access within to banking industry.
Roger Stone expressed the view that it was Trump's pledge to support state's rights to legalize marijuana that was a key factor leading to a "slight edge" in the 2016 election. He took it a step further, throwing a jab at Attorney General Jeff Sessions by saying "In all honesty, it's time for President Trump to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut the shit."
Stone also called out Homeland Secretary John Kelly, who has called for a federal crackdown on legal marijuana. Stone - who has been active in Republican politics since the Nixon Administration - hinted that he believes there are enough votes in the House to pass an outright legalization bill, though the Senate "would be much more difficult."
"It's our intention to identify, reach, and mobilize millions of pro-cannabis voters to urge the President to keep his word," Stone said. "It's our intention to lobby the Trump Administration from the top down to recognize the medicinal value and economic potential of cannabis."
He also said that he's getting into the business himself. He's growing a new strain of marijuana in California - noting that he has all the requisite permits - called "Tricky Dick" after his favorite president, Richard Nixon.
We hope Stone is able to leverage his influence with Trump to protect and further legal access to marijuana. Stay tuned.