Ron DeSantis has long followed Donald Trump’s footsteps in his political career. For masks and weed, it’s more of the same.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made no secret about his alliance to President Donald Trump. Throughout his time in Congress, DeSantis voted in line with Trump’s position 94% of the time. When running for the governor’s office, he endlessly touted his ties to Trump.
These are the three characteristics DeSantis promoted on his campaign website: Iraq Veteran…#1 Conservative in FL…Endorsed by President Trump.
And so it is little surprise DeSantis ignored the voice of the people and followed in Trump’s footsteps on two key issues: wearing face masks and marijuana. According to a new Quinnipiac University Poll, 79% of registered Florida voters believe wearing a face mask in public should be required. Almost one-third of Florida counties instituted mandatory face mask policies in public, due to surging coronavirus cases in the state. But DeSantis refuses to implement such an order because he believes it will “backfire.”
“We left it to the locals to make decisions about coercive measures or impose any kind of criminal penalties,” DeSantis said at the end of June. “We’re not going to do that statewide.”
More than 400,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Florida. Only New York and California have had more. According to New York Times data, Florida has had the highest number of cases in the past seven days (74,093). The state requires serious action combatting the coronavirus and, should we trust the Quinnipiac data, residents have essentially given DeSantis their permission to require face masks.
And yet he does nothing.
A similar theme emerges when you examine recreational marijuana in Florida. A different 2019 Quinnipiac poll reported 65% of registered Florida voters approved recreational marijuana. The South Florida Sun Sentinel polled its readers as well and found that 91% want legal cannabis.
What the people want, DeSantis won’t give them. The governor said he adamantly opposes recreational marijuana.
“Not while I’m Governor,” DeSantis said last year. “I mean look, when that is introduced with teenagers and young people I think it has a really detrimental effect to their well-being and their maturity.”
Multiple studies have found the opposite. In recreational legal cannabis states, teen use actually declined following legalization. But DeSantis did sign a law that makes it harder to pass ballot initiatives, a mechanism Floridians used to pass medical marijuana in the state. The law also requires the Florida Supreme Court to review whether a proposed amendments is “facially invalid under the United States Constitution.” Cannabis advocates worry this would block all the initiative before it reaches the ballot, as marijuana remains definitively illegal under the U.S. Constitution.
In reviewing the data, DeSantis falls much closer in line with Donald Trump than Floridians on this use. Throughout the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump established he was anti-mask. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” Trump said about wearing a mask back in April. Following mounting pressure, Trump finally relented this month and said “I’m all for masks” and “would have no problem” wearing a mask in public.
Despite support marijuana reform during his 2016 campaign, an anti-marijuana sentiment has slowly been brewing in the White House during the Trump Presidency. A Trump 2020 campaign spokesman stated that Trump would not come out in favor of cannabis this time around. Attorney General William Barr, hand-picked by Trump, was accused of inappropriately using Justice Department funds to target the legal marijuana industry earlier this year. All of which has given the appearance the Trump Administration is doubling down on its anti-marijuana stance in the 2020 Election.
So who does Gov. Ron DeSantis support more: Donald Trump or the Florida people he’s supposed to represent? On face masks and marijuana, the answer is obvious.