Quite a few folks in the cannabis community are surprised to hear that Henry Rollins will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC). It is shocking to some that someone that doesn’t partake in cannabis would want to be an advocate for the cannabis industry. However, if anything, Rollins’ drug-free bona fides are a plus for the burgeoning industry as it is important to seek out as many allies as possible and hear their perspective.

As we fight to end cannabis prohibition across the nation (and world) and implement sound policies that let small farmers and mom-and-pop businesses thrive, we need non-users as political allies. As Rollins told the Ashland Daily Tidings, cannabis legalization is a freedom issue for him, and he’s pulling for the little guys:

“The history of cannabis is a story of bigotry, elitism and corruption, so I push against that,” says Rollins, an actor, comedian, musician and activist who is the keynote speaker for the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference to be held in Ashland Nov. 18-19.

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To me, legalization and decriminalization is a civil rights matter,” Rollins says referring to the numbers of those sentenced to prison for possession of marijuana. “The people going to jail for this are primarily non-whites and poor people. Prisons make money when they’re full.”

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“These hopeful entrepreneurs are taking on big pharmaceutical and eventually Phillip Morris and Monsanto. My advice is to immerse yourself in your community, be the microbrew of cannabis because you have a better product,” Rollins says.

While it is great that the Oregon cannabis industry is creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars for the state, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the civil rights foundation for our movement. Yes, there are business opportunities to be had and the OMBC will walk you through the important licensing and regulatory issues of the day, but the event, with the help of Mr. Rollins, will help keep a strong focus on the need to keep people out of prison and support small craft businesses.