Ron DeSantis Questions Legitimacy Of Florida Medical Cannabis Users

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis cast doubt on the medical necessity of marijuana for at least some of the state’s 850,000 registered patients. While speaking to supporters this week in a lead-up to the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, the Republican presidential candidate suggested that some in Florida may be using the program as a “pretext” for recreational use. 

“Look there was, you know, how much of that is medicinal versus how much of it is, ‘That’s the pretext for it’? I don’t know, but it is in our constitution,” DeSantis said in Dubuque, reported FloridaPolitics.com. 

Change Of Heart

Ron DeSantis once criticized the strict regulations of his predecessor Rick Scott. One well-known advocate even said DeSantis “used to be one of the coolest Republicans when it came to weed.”

However, his recent comments suggest a hardening stance to recreational marijuana legalization, which is expected to be decided at the ballot box in 2024 in Florida.

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Responding to a question about vertical integration, DeSantis said he was opposed to it as a matter of principle, saying, “as a general matter with programs, you want there to be open field and competition that’s going to make it better for consumers and that will make it better for taxpayers,” noted the outlet.

The governor’s comments on competition align with his Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) who accused the state’s largest cannabis operator Trulieve Cannabis TCNNF of “entrenching their monopoly of the marijuana market.”  

During his first term, Ron DeSantis supported allowing patients to smoke cannabis, saying that those suffering from debilitating conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer should have access to the treatment they need.

In recent years, DeSantis has expressed concerns about the potency of cannabis strains and the potential for “bad things” in the product. In June 2023, he said that cannabis decriminalization was not on his agenda if elected president. 

FloridaPolitics.com noted that DeSantis’s flip-flopping has led some to speculate that his recent skepticism about medical marijuana may be driven by political calculations rather than genuine concerns about patient well-being and public safety.

“DeSantis has been all over the place rhetorically during not just this campaign but his political career when it comes to cannabis,” wrote A.G. Gancarski.

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