Roger Stone was considered a major force behind President Trump's campaign in 2016, but he is now at odds with some in the administration over marijuana legalization -- a fight that has led him to join forces with his political rivals.
Stone, who considers himself a libertarian conservative, is a major supporter of marijuana legalization. He told Circa that Trump, while not a user or supporter of weed, is a big believer in each state's right to legalize it should they so desire. Stone recalled seeing the benefits of medicinal marijuana firsthand after procuring some for his father, who was enduring radiation treatments during a bout with cancer.
"I don't like the idea that the government should tell you where you can live, who you can marry, what you can eat, what you can smoke," said Stone. "So from that comes a strong belief in medicinal marijuana."
But some in the Trump administration do not see eye-to-eye with Stone on legalization, most notably White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly claimed marijuana was "a potentially dangerous gateway drug," though he admitted it is not a major factor in the drug war. Sessions is on the record for claiming "good people don't smoke marijuana," and he has issued letters to governors of states that have legalized it, warning them of the adverse effects involved.
"Here's what I would say to Jeff Sessions: you can't be for state's rights when it comes to abortion, and for state's rights when it comes to transgender bathrooms, and now suddenly not be for state's rights when it comes to the legalization of cannabis. The intellectual inconsistency there is glaring," said Stone.
While Stone and other marijuana supporters are concerned that some in the administration may attempt to crack down on legalization, the federal government has done little to nothing to interfere with state legalization thus far.
Regardless, Stone is keeping up the fight, even if that means making some strange bedfellows. Stone pulled no punches against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and even some Republicans, while working on the Trump campaign, but he is willing to collaborate with his adversaries when it comes to weed.
"I'll work with any Democrat, any liberal, any progressive, if we agree on that issue," said Stone. "This is what coalition building is about."
As far as Stone is concerned, the the campaign was one thing, while policy advocacy is another.
"Well, I've injected partisan politics into political campaigns, yes, that is what they are about. I'd like to look beyond partisanship in the fight for legalized cannabis. I don't think Republicans or Democrats working alone can achieve what we can achieve working together," said Stone.
A few notables on the left agree with Stone on weed, including comedian Bill Maher. Stone was able to sign on Florida lawyer John Morgan, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, as his co-chair on the United States Cannabis Coalition.
Stone believes that states should be left alone on legalization, which he says will eventually lead to marijuana being removed from the government's schedule 1 list of drugs, which includes heroin and LSD. Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous and are believed to have no currently accepted medical use.
But others -- including Scott Shipman, the southern California chairman for Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana -- believe that marijuana is still dangerous and should remain on schedule 1.
"It's weakening us," Shipman told me in an interview. He expressed some skepticism regarding the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and noted that the arguments in favor of legalization are sending a horrible message to children.
Stone feels like he has the upper hand. He claimed that Trump won over a number of millennial voters due to his softer position on marijuana, and that the president won't forget it going forward.
"Marijuana will be legalized on a federal basis, certainly within my lifetime. Perhaps in President Trump's second term," said Stone, with a grin.