George Papadopoulos, the first advisor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, has landed a new role on the board of advisors at a pro-Trump medical marijuana company.
Papadopoulos was released from a 12-day stint in federal prison in December as part of the plea deal he struck with Mueller after admitting he lied about his contacts during the 2016 election.
A month later, he joined the advisory board of C3 International, manufacturer of a "concentrated cannabis extract" that claims to offer an analgesic alternative to opiates and narcotics.
C3's website boasts that its pill, called Idrasil, is the "first standardized form of medical cannabis." A case of 24 bottles of Idrasil costs $12,000, or $500 apiece for a 30-day supply.
"I believe that having a prescription cannabis pill can be a big part of the solution because it is prescription-only, it is safe, and a non-addictive way for patients suffering from pain and other ailments," Papadopoulos said in a statement to CNBC. "It's revolutionary and I am honored to be on the Board of Advisors."
The California-based company's CEO, Steele Smith, said he started the company years after his own bout with an addiction to opioids that he was prescribed to treat a rare form of Crohn's disease. He said he first started a medical marijuana dispensary, but eventually developed the doseable, prescribable cannabis pill that he hopes will disrupt the pain medicine market.
Smith praised the Trump administration, and expressed a desire to contribute to it, in an interview.
"The president has established an opioid commission that has within it a group of folks studying cannabis so that the president can make learned policy decisions related to cannabis," Smith said. "And I want to be on that panel."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CEO said he first crossed paths with Papadopoulos through LinkedIn. The 31-year-old foreign policy aide, who was photographed sitting alongside Trump and other campaign officials at a March 2016 campaign meeting, brings the company "access, primarily," Smith said. "And he's a conservative Republican, like me."
Asked whether C3 has made contact with the Trump administration, Smith referred CNBC to Papadopoulos. The former Trump campaign advisor did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether he reached out to the administration.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts during the 2016 presidential election.
After joining the campaign in 2016, Papadopoulos met with a Russia-tied professor who told him the Kremlin had "dirt" on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, including "thousands of emails," according to the special counsel's court filings. But Papadopoulos falsely told investigators that he met with that professor before learning of his role in the campaign.
Mueller's team is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as possible Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin and an inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Papadopoulos was sentenced to be incarcerated for two weeks in prison, pay a $9,500 fine, serve 200 hours of community service and stay under supervised release for a year. But he was released from federal custody in Oxford, Wisconsin, after just 12 days because he received credit for two days he spent in jail earlier after his arrest in the case.
After flirting with a possible appeal of his sentence, Papadopoulos decided against the legal challenge in "hopes to move on with his life," his lawyer said in a statement at the time.
Smith said he "absolutely" was initially uneasy with Papadopoulos' highly publicized persona as a target of the Mueller probe who had just been released from custody. But Papadopoulos has "shown that he's not a shrinking violet or a weak individual. He's got morals and values and character," Smith said.
Marijuana, especially when used for recreational purposes, has long maintained an association with the liberal counterculture movements of the mid-20th century. Recent polls show that younger Americans and Democrats are more likely to say pot should be legal than older generations and Republicans, respectively.
Smith said that people are often surprised to find a conservative Trump supporter at the head of a medical marijuana company.
"I think that's kind of a cool thing in a way, because we get to define what the new conservative looks like," Smith said. "We understand that there's been a reefer madness that has been perpetrated upon us, and that needs to end. And I think we're the people to do that."