Al Sharpton to Keynote Cannabis World Congress Conference

Rev. Al Sharpton / Getty Images


Civil rights activist and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton will be keynoting the Cannabis World Congress Conference, organizers announced.

The New York City conference is billed as "the leading trade show and conference for the legalized cannabis, medical marijuana, and industrial hemp industries." Organizers touted Sharpton's civil rights record, and his keynote address will focus on decriminalization and diversity in the cannabis industry, not his own opinions on the drug.

"Just because I don't use marijuana as a minister, does not mean I have the right to impose my moral values on others," Sharpton said. "However, I will challenge the cannabis industry and its distributors in states where it is legal to support civil rights movements and ensure that we are not disproportionately excluded from business opportunities."

The event's managing director, Scott Giannotti, said that Sharpton's appearance is an "extreme honor" and "a turning point for the industry."

"Decriminalization and diversity are hot buttons for this industry, and there is a low percentage of canna-businesses owned by people of color," Giannotti said.

President Donald Trump's campaign adviser Roger Stone will also be a keynote speaker. The Cannabis World Congress website describes Stone as "active in libertarian circles" and "a longtime advocate for legal marijuana and reform of New York's draconian drug laws."

Unlike Sharpton, Stone has an extensive record supporting marijuana legalization. In March, he shared a marijuana cake with Bill Maher on the latter's HBO show "Real Time."

The conference will be the first time that Sharpton speaks publicly about marijuana decriminalization, according to the announcement. His 40-minute address will be Friday, the last day of the conference.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is the deputy war room director at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at

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