Ron DeSantis Used To Be 'Coolest Republican When It Came To Weed' Says Prominent Advocate In Marijuana Moment Op-Ed

Zinger Key Points
  • DeSantis has taken an 'extremist position' in his run for president, adopting a Reefer Madness approach to marijuana rhetoric and policy.
  • In 2015, DeSantis was one of only 45 Republicans who voted to not waste taxpayer dollars to enforce marijuana criminalization.

Justin Strekal, former political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) tells it like it is in a recent Op-Ed published by Marijuana Moment. Strekal is the founder of BOWL PAC, which advocates for cannabis legalization and the election of pro-reform politicians.

Strekal’s full op-ed:

Believe it or not, Ron DeSantis used to be one of the coolest Republicans when it came to weed.

Unfortunately, spineless Ron DeSantis has capitulated and fallen in line with the majority of his fellow career-politician Republican prohibitionists. The facts show he is now squarely opposed to the super-majority of Americans (including a majority of Republican voters) who support legalization. This is yet another reason why he must not be elected president.

To be fair, before I continue to trash him, here are the two receipts for why DeSantis used to be decent on cannabis—if only to underscore how pathetic he is for deciding to take a dramatically anti-cannabis turn:

In 2015, DeSantis was one of only 45 Republicans who voted to not waste taxpayer dollars to enforce marijuana criminalization against states that had legalized—when 198 of his Republican colleagues voted to maintain the status quo of oppression.

In critiquing the hyper-restrictive licensing structure of Florida’s medical cannabis program in 2019 after being elected governor of Florida, he said, “We need to have the people’s will represented in good law that is doing what they intended. I look at how some of this was created, where they [lawmakers] created a cartel, essentially.”

DeSantis’s previous positions serve as an example of what the ideal position for elected members of the Republican Party to take would be: a liberty-first, more free-market approach. While no ideology is perfect, from that position, conservative lawmakers would be able to have a reasonable, candid conversation about how to reform cannabis laws to protect the freedoms of their constituents and promote a competitive legal marketplace and reduce the illicit market.

Here Comes The Flip-Flop

But DeSantis has taken a far more extremist position in his run for president, adopting a full-tilt Reefer Madness approach to marijuana rhetoric and policy.

In June of 2023, DeSantis said he would not federally decriminalize marijuana if elected to the White House. Why? He argued somewhat incoherently that cannabis use hurts the workforce, inhibits productivity and leads to death if contaminated.

What provoked this bold, if not completely absurd, position? A veteran who spoke up on behalf of “broken veterans…with service-connected disease, illness, and injury,” asking DeSantis if he would decriminalize cannabis as president.

This position is to the right of even former President Donald Trump, who was always much more quick to pivot to his expressed support of medical marijuana (despite doing nothing to advance protections or access to medical cannabis while in the White House).

DeSantis’s anti-cannabis turn is further reflected in his recent actions as Florida’s governor to support and sign a new law in August of 2023 that makes it much harder for people with cannabis-related convictions to be able to gain employment in the restrictive Florida cannabis industry.

According to Marijuana Moment, the new law removes “exemptions from employment background screenings for people with felonies after three years have elapsed, misdemeanors after they’ve completed the terms of their sentence, felonies that have since become reduced to misdemeanors under statute and offenses that would have been felonies if they were committed by adults after three years have elapsed.”

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPoliticsOpinionMarketsGeneralcannabis legalizationGOPJustin StrekalRon DeSantis
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