Ron DeSantis is running for the 2024 Presidential election as a prominent opponent to cannabis
legalization and decriminalization. DeSantis is the current Governor of Florida and served in the
House of Representatives as Florida’s 6th congressional district representative from 2013 to 2018. His background in politics has been lined with anti-drug sentiments that remain unchanged even when faced with contradictory popular opinion.
The growing debate over cannabis legalization has been a common angle for politicians to bolster support for the coming election. DeSantis has been criticized for his strict views on cannabis by his opponents on several occasions. Among them is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who denounced DeSantis for his opposition to decriminalization.
DeSantis has been in opposition to decriminalization and legalization throughout his political career. Will he maintain his position for the coming election?
While DeSantis may not be in favor of legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, he has shown his support for legislation that protected state medical and recreational programs. He has shown a tendency to favor less federal government involvement in state law during his time as a House Representative.
On the other hand, he voted against allowing U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) doctors to
recommend cannabis to their patients, and against legislation that would prevent federal funding from penalizing banks that work with cannabis companies.
He then continued this mixed policy into his time as Governor of Florida, taking a strict stance against recreational use of marijuana.
DeSantis: Policy as Governor
DeSantis has made many public statements about his views on cannabis, but sometimes his policy takes an unexpected turn. In 2019 he supported the erasure of the Florida ban on smoking medical cannabis.
During one interview in 2019 with WJHG News, DeSantis was questioned about what he would do after seeing a Quinnipiac University poll that claimed 65% of Floridians support recreational cannabis.
He responded with, “Not while I’m governor, I mean look I think that when that is introduced with teenagers and young people. I think it has a really detrimental effect to their well-being and their maturity.”
He went on to cite his reasons for opposing recreational legalization, including its impact on the youth and the presence of fentanyl in street drugs. His claim that fentanyl is present in cannabis has been criticized and is contradictory to his opposition to legalization.
Where Does DeSantis Stand Now?
DeSantis has been open about his opinion on cannabis but he has not mentioned anything about psychedelics. He did however state, “Drugs are killing this country.” And this is the sentiment he will be bringing into the 2024 Presidential Election.
In a streamed meet and greet in August DeSantis stated that he understood the argument that states like California and Colorado have,
“Look, we know people are going to use marijuana, it is a drug, if you can legalize it you can tax
it, regulate it, and it’s going to end up being safer for people.”
Then to support his opposition he says that the illicit market in states like Colorado have grown with legalization. Actually, the opposite effect has been shown to be true with Colorado. According to Marijana Moment, 99% of recreational cannabis sales occurred at legal dispensaries as of July 2022.
It is unlikely that DeSantis will be coming after states for their legalization policies, but he has said time and time again that he will not decriminalize or legalize cannabis. His lack of regard for public opinion surveys and research support the idea that his opinion will not change with the growing support for cannabis legalization.
About the Author
Michael has a background in cannabis education and grew up in a family with roots in the industry. When he was Director of Events at Cannaclub UCLA he had the chance to learn from the industry and educate the student body on various aspects of the industry and the plant’s medical benefits.
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