Weed-Growing Attorney General Candidate Spells Out N-Word During Debate, Storms Off-Stage

Alan Gordon, Compassion Party candidate for Rhode Island attorney general. Anne Armstrong

A Rhode Island attorney general candidate loudly spelled out the n-word before storming off stage during a debate earlier this week.

Compassion Party candidate Alan Gordon exploded when his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, said "marijuana."

"That's like saying 'n-*-*-*-*-r,'" Gordon can be heard saying in video of the incident. He adds that the term is "a curse to my people."

Gordon is a canon of The Healing Church, which uses weed in its services, according to The Providence Journal. The church considers cannabis to be a healing drug.

"The term is super-offensive to our Hebrew Catholic sect, for whom the Biblical anointing oil ingredient 'Kaneh Bosim' ('hemp balsam' or hashish) is important. The word, "mari-uana" is a curse, a backwards pronunciation of an ancient Hebrew blessing 'Chaneh' (hemp) + 'Hiram' (Solomon's Temple architect) written over the narrow gate by which women entered the Temple," Gordon wrote to Newsweek. "Greek invaders who descrated the Temple read it left to right (backwards). Yiddish women to this day say a dialect variant of the blessing (Kaneh Hara, Kanah Haram) to ward off curses, so saying "mari-uana" is a curse upon our people."

Gordon told Newsweek that his opponent used the word to be deliberately offensive despite requests to refrain from doing so and that a woman and child from The Healing Church were in the audience.

He also said because he had requested the word not be spoken and given its derogatory meaning, the context rendered continued use of "marijuana" more offensive than the n-word. "If my more-respectful reference to derogatory language (not said aloud) was wrong, then his use of a word NOT for the sake of discussing its appropriacy, and said aloud, was worse," he wrote. "Had it not been a matter of the Church, I would have punched him out for so grave an insult. On the other hand, had he not cursed our faith, it would not have been so grave an insult."

"We respectfully decline to comment," the Neronha campaign told Newsweek.

Alan Gordon, Compassion Party candidate for Rhode Island attorney general. Anne Armstrong

The Guardian reported earlier this year that, despite its common use today, the term "marijuana" has racist roots.

"For the prohibitionists of nearly a century ago, the exotic-sounding word emphasized the drug's foreignness to white Americans and appealed to the xenophobia of the time. As with other racist memes, a common refrain was that marijuana would lead to miscegenation," the outlet reported in January.

Earlier this month Gordon and Compassion Party gubernatorial candidate Anne Armstrong were arrested with 48 pounds of cannabis.

Law enforcement authorities raided the couple's house and found the weed. Rhode Island permits medical marijuana growing, but police said that neither Armstrong nor Gordon possesses a state growing license.

Both Armstrong and Gordon were charged with possession of marijuana in excess of five kilograms and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

The couple was arrested on marijuana charges in 2016, according to The Providence Journal. Days before, they had filed a federal lawsuit that sought to prevent law enforcement officials from taking their weed plants. The court filing said that enforcement of marijuana laws against them constituted religious discrimination.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article said Gordon and Armstrong were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which police reported at the time of the candidates' arrest. These charges have not been brought.