British-born, pro-pot conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan is among the stellar cast of speakers scheduled toi appear at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on Feb. 13-14. In advance of his keynote, we asked him the following questions:
What was the reaction to your appearance at the ICBC in Portland in 2014?
It was really positive. I just gave a speech about why prohibition is a preposterous public policy when it comes to cannabis on purely scientific grounds, and how individual liberty should trump all of the lame arguments for maintaining the illegality of a largely harmless – indeed beneficial – plant. I really believe that marking a plant that grows on God's green earth as illegal is close to insane.
Since you started speaking out on cannabis, many states have changed their laws. Do you feel you've had an impact on these changes?
No. My role on The Dish was to campaign on this for years, rather like my campaign for marriage equality. But i'm just one voice, and the broader, wider chorus is what's getting the job done. Perhaps by making the conservative case for cannabis legalization, I can help jog some lazy thinking out there on the right.
Bernie Sanders is the best presidential candidate on marijuana issues (Rand Paul is second). Would you consider voting for Sanders?
This will be the first election I can vote in, and all I can say is that I won't vote for Clinton, Trump or Cruz. The man who could really shift this debate is the current president, regarding the absurd federal classification of the drug. I suspect his super-stoner past inhibits him from saying this. But we should push more aggressively.
What's your take on Trump? Will he win the Republican nomination?
It's perfectly possible he wins the nomination. I couldn't vote for him in a million years. He's a neo-fascist. He's the American version of Putin. He could ignite a global religious war. He knows next to nothing about politics or policy. His candidacy should be treated as a farce.
What should we expect from your presentation at the ICBC in February?
Some sanity and passion, I hope. I believe cannabis is not just permissible in the modern world. I think it's actively beneficial for the individual and the society as a whole. What we need to do is make the argument that cannabis is good. We need to stop being defensive and start being proudly positive about the benefits of legal cannabis for everyone, including those who choose not to smoke it. I'm working on an essay on those grounds, and I hope to learn from the conference as much as speak there.
The ICBC lineup also includes Tommy Chong (he'll beinterviewed by yours truly), former Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders, Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, the Green House's Arjan Roskam from Amsterdam, Dale Sky Jones, Debby Goldsberry, Philippe Lucas and Ngaio Bealum. The event at the Hyatt Regency includes a VIP party and a special performance by Bay ARea hip-hop legend Del tha Funky Homosapien. Buy tickets here