On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would not legalize adult-use cannabis if elected president, confirming what he said in June, and warned about the danger of fentanyl-laced pot at the Never Back Down Super PAC in Iowa.
Florida Politics reports that the presidential hopeful is gearing up for the 2024 presidential election, and taking a harder stance against adult-use cannabis.
“Yeah, I would not legalize,” DeSantis said at Never Back Down. “I think what’s happened is this stuff is very potent now. I think it’s a real, real problem and I think it’s a lot different than stuff that people were using 30 or 40 years ago. And I think when kids get on that, I think it causes a lot of problems. And then, of course, you know, they can throw fentanyl in any of this stuff now.”
DeSantis launched a bus tour scheduled last month to hit Chariton, Osceola, and Oskaloosa in Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports that it’s part of his plan to “barnstorm” small towns in Iowa, an early voting state, as he ramps up his campaign to tackle GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Polling averages by FiveThirtyEight show DeSantis with about 18% of Republican voter support while Trump carries over 50%.
“The drugs are killing this country,” DeSantis added, though cannabis itself cannot cause a fatal overdose. “While a fatal overdose caused solely by marijuana is unlikely, marijuana is not harmless,” the CDC says cautiously. Fentanyl, of course, is another story: drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids—primarily fentanyl—continued to rise with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021.
“We have medical in our Constitution, we have medical marijuana, we enforce that, you know, we abide by it, but to take action now to make it even more available, I would not do that,” DeSantis said, adding that Colorado adult use just led to black market sales. DeSantis, however, supported smokable medical cannabis early in his first term, citing people with Lou Gehrig’s disease and other conditions, when it’s unknown which delivery method works best.
But in 2022 he went hard against cannabis: “What I don’t like about it is if you go to some of these places that have done it, the stench when you’re out there, I mean, it smells so putrid,” he said. “I could not believe the pungent odor that you would see in some of these places. I don’t want to see that here. I want people to be able to breathe freely.”
On the campaign trail in North Augusta, South Carolina in June, DeSantis was asked by a man claiming to be speaking on behalf of military veterans living with sickness and injury after serving their country, whether he would decriminalize cannabis if elected president.
DeSantis said he would not, saying that it would impact employee performance. “I think that we have too many people using drugs in this country right now,” the Florida governor said. “I think it hurts our workforce readiness. I think it hurts people’s ability to prosper and, just in my experience in growing up in the Tampa Bay area in Florida, the kids in high school who got involved in that that I went with, you know, all suffered. All their activities, all their grades, and everything like that.”
By Sunday, DeSantis was back in Tallahassee.
Fentanyl and Cannabis Are Very Different
Headlines about fentanyl-laced pot cause alarm, yet frequently fall apart: The Brattleboro Police Department (BPD) in Vermont told the media they revived a patient using CPR and several doses of Narcan after cannabis the person smoked reportedly tested positive for fentanyl, and found more in a second incident. Then they had to retract their statement:
“The seized marijuana in both incidents was submitted to a forensic laboratory where testing was conducted,” the Brattleboro Police Department said in a statement. “BPD was notified no fentanyl was found in the marijuana in either case.”
The same thing happened in 2020 in New York when officials said they found the drug in cannabis, and then a week or so later determined it wasn’t. “Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl has not been found mixed into cannabis in New York City,” the city health department clarified. The New York State Department of Health also clarified “it is unlikely to be in weed.”
But is smoking fentanyl-laced pot even feasible considering how it burns? It’s a topic High Times has explored many times. “It’s unclear if you can consume fentanyl in that way—by smoking,” Peter Grinspoon, M.D., an Internist and medical cannabis specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School told High Times in 2021. “Some drugs you can smoke, like cocaine, freebased as crack. But fentanyl tends to disintegrate starting at about 500 degrees [F], and it fully disintegrates at about 1000 degrees. When you smoke—you’re talking about 2,000 degrees.”
While it could have happened some place, it would make little sense for drug dealers to lace pot with fentanyl if it’s smoked considering how much could be wasted.
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