Florida Governor's Anti-Pot Stance Clashes with Campaign's Pro-Marijuana Ties


Florida, USA —Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' vehement opposition to recreational marijuana is at odds with a significant facet of his own political apparatus. Axiom Strategies and Vanguard Field Strategies, firms led by prominent Republican strategist Jeff Roe, have received nearly $29 million from an organization advocating for a 2024 ballot initiative that seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida.

While DeSantis has vociferously condemned recreational pot, referring to it as a "real problem" and decrying its "stench," he finds himself indirectly linked to the pro-pot movement through these influential consulting firms.

The initiative, funded primarily by marijuana giant Trulieve, represents a potential resurgence for Florida Democrats and has seen substantial support in signature-gathering efforts. However, its path to the ballot is contested. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, an ally of DeSantis who has endorsed his White House campaign, has urged the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court to strike it down.

Axiom Strategies, known as one of the Republican Party's largest consulting firms, often manages a diverse clientele, sometimes leading to engagements with clients holding conflicting ideologies. Axiom's involvement with Florida's pro-marijuana initiative commenced in 2022, predating its association with Never Back Down, an entity closely aligned with DeSantis.

While DeSantis has shown some openness to medical marijuana use, he staunchly opposes recreational legalization. He has signed legislation tightening restrictions on recreational marijuana advertising and maintained a firm stance against its decriminalization.

The juxtaposition of DeSantis' anti-pot stance and the campaign's association with pro-marijuana forces highlights a significant challenge within the governor's political framework, sparking internal discussions about its strategic coherence.

DeSantis' campaign and the super PAC are legally barred from coordinating, a constraint that places the governor's political future in the hands of an entity whose objectives occasionally diverge from his own. This rift has led to growing tensions and disagreements between the DeSantis campaign and Never Back Down in recent weeks, particularly regarding strategies to boost the governor's standing in a primary where he faces formidable competition.

DeSantis' allies express frustration over the super PAC's publicizing of strategic advice for the governor's debate performance, perceiving it as a limiting factor. Additionally, a recording from a Never Back Down donor briefing suggested a specific time frame for DeSantis to surpass former President Donald Trump in the polls, further exacerbating tensions.

Despite these challenges, DeSantis remains resolute in his stance against recreational marijuana, emphasizing concerns over its potency and potential dangers, particularly for young users.

The juxtaposition of these conflicting positions may pose a political quandary for DeSantis, potentially causing dissonance with his constituents on a high-profile cultural issue. As the pro-marijuana initiative navigates legal hurdles, the governor's anti-pot platform may face increased scrutiny in the run-up to the 2024 presidential race.