Roger Stone is starting a group to change the Trump’s stance on …

Roger Stone

Roger Stone has a new
political mission: legalizing marijuana.
Hollis Johnson

Longtime Trump adviser and staunch conservative Roger Stone has a
new mission: legalizing marijuana nationwide.

Stone announced on Friday at the Cannabis World Congress and
Business Expo in New York the formation of the bipartisan United
States Cannabis Coalition, an advocacy group with the express
purpose of protecting state’s rights to legalize and regulate
marijuana.

The USCC is registered with the IRS as a section 527 nonprofit,
the same tax-exempt status that applies to political action
committees.

“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 his campaign
pledge,” Stone said in a talk on Friday, “and to remind the
president that he took a strong and forthright position on this
issue in the election.”  

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura will join Stone in the
advocacy group, as well as a host of both Republican and Democrat
political strategists.

Stone pointed to the decreased rates of incarceration for
low-level drug offenses and opioid-related overdoses in states
that have legalized marijuana, along with the boon in tax revenue
and job creation. 

During the campaign,
Trump told The Washington Post that legalizing marijuana

should be a “state issue,” and he expressed “100%” support for
medical marijuana in an interview with Bill O’Reilly in
2016. 

Marijuana is an illegal, Schedule 1 drug at the federal level,
though a number of states have voted to legalize the drug for
both medicinal and recreational use. 

Stone said the USCC’s mission — beyond outright legalization —
will be to reschedule marijuana to allow doctors to legally
prescribe it and open up avenues for research.

marijuana high times dispensary

Part
of the USCC’s mission will be to reform the federal tax code to
help cannabis businesses.
Richard
Vogel/AP

As well, the USCC will work to ensure that the federal government
won’t interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, and
advocate for a fair tax policy for cannabis businesses. The USCC
will also work for the “normalization,” of cannabis businesses
within the banking industry, Stone said.

Many
marijuana businesses are frozen out of traditional banks

because it’s too risky for banks to deal with an industry that’s
federally illegal. 

In Stone’s view, Trump’s pledge to support state’s rights to
legalize marijuana was “key factor” leading to a “slight edge”
for Trump in the the 2016 election. Stone, who said he’s known
Trump for “decades,” was an early adviser to Trump’s
campaign. 

It’s unclear how much clout Stone still has with Trump,
however. 

Trump hasn’t been friendly to marijuana since he took office.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is
a noted opponent of marijuana legalization
, and he asked
Congress in recent days to roll back federal protections for
medical marijuana.

The protections in question, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment,
directs the Department of Justice to refrain from spending money
to enforce federal medicinal marijuana laws. 

Sessions
has also called for a review
of a 2013 directive from the
Obama Administration, known as the Cole Memo,
which stipulates that the Justice Department place
“low priority” on enforcing marijuana laws against businesses and
organizations that comply with state law.

War on Drugs

Former
President Richard Nixon started the ‘War on Drugs’ in the
1970s.
REUTERS/Neil
Hall

“In all honesty it’s time for [President Trump] to tell Attorney
General Jeff Sessions to cut the shit,” Stone added.

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.

Though Nixon may be Stone’s hero, he admitted that Nixon’s
Administration ramped up criminal prosecution of drug users
in the 1970s, which many say was the start of the so-called ‘War
on Drugs.’

“That was the most egregious mistake of his presidency,” Stone
said, though Nixon resigned during the Watergate
scandal. 

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