Ron DeSantis Pledges To Respect States’ Rights On Cannabis Legalization If Elected President

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has criticized recreational cannabis legalization, seems to be walking a tightrope on the issue as he campaigns to become the 2024 GOP presidential candidate.

While reiterating his concerns, and there are many, he said he would respect state-level decisions if elected president, reported Florida Politics.

“We’ll respect the decisions that the states make on that,” DeSantis said in Dubuque, Iowa over the weekend, apparently acknowledging a growing national trend towards legalization.

DeSantis did not hold back on what he doesn’t like, and that list is also long. He pointed to states like California and Colorado, about which he insisted that legalized weed “definitely caused a negative impact on their workforce but also on medical freedom.” He further cautioned against “problems in the cities,” all familiar critiques for those who have been monitoring his stance.

He got more specific on Saturday when he said that legal weed in Colorado, now in its 10th year, was responsible for the increase in the black market – a comment that was roundly criticized and disproven by Colorado officials.

DeSantis’ cannabis dance, or flip-flopping, reflects the political landscape surrounding marijuana’s growing societal acceptance among the U.S. mainstream.

Back home in Florida, voters are likely to decide on recreational marijuana legalization this year via an initiative at the ballot box. Although, anticipating its passage, a GOP-led state proposal last week sought to limit THC potency. In June 2023, DeSantis said that cannabis decriminalization was not on his agenda if elected president. 

Among pronouncements ranging from concerns about workplace impacts to the pungent “stench,” DeSantis even questioned the integrity of Florida’s medical marijuana program, suggesting some patients are using medical conditions as a “pretext” for recreational consumption. 

Justin Strekal, former political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) once wrote that DeSantis used to be “one of the coolest Republicans when it came to weed.”

DeSantis, according to Florida Politics, “has been all over the place rhetorically during not just this campaign but his political career when it comes to cannabis.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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