DeSantis’s Pot Position: Game-Changer Or Political Play?

( – Ron DeSantis’ 2024 campaign for the United States presidency has been by all objective measures underwhelming to say the least. One issue that seems to come up frequently are issues between the official campaign and the “Never Back Down” political action committee (PAC). The two are often at odds and seem to have different agendas which may be confusing voters as to what the candidate’s message truly is. One such example seems to be marijuana; DeSantis has spoken on several occasions about his opposition to the drug. He’s called it a “real problem” and points to the drug as a contributor in the overwhelming narcotics problem that he believes is “killing” the country. 

However, his PAC’s two primarily vendors Vanguard Field Strategies and Axiom Strategies both run by a Republican strategist named Jeff Roe have been paid upwards of $29 million by an organization whose main agenda is a 2024 ballot initiative that would see recreational marijuana legalized in Florida. DeSantis as governor has appointed an attorney general who is fighting the measure. The apparent conflict between DeSantis’ government and his presidential PAC have raised many eyebrows about what DeSantis’ true position on the matter is. 

The Never Back Down PAC has paid Vanguard and Axiom more than $25 million in the first half of 2023. The PAC and the candidate cannot directly coordinate with each other but the PAC handles the DeSantis’ vote drive initiatives, hosting DeSantis events and arranging for his transportation. The vendors advocating for clients who seem to be in direct policy conflict with DeSantis has reportedly led to in-fighting between the PAC and the campaign with each blaming the other for DeSantis’ ever-sagging poll numbers in the GOP primary. 

Recently, Axiom posted a debate strategy they proposed for DeSantis on their website. This action is believed to have angered DeSantis as it put him at a disadvantage going into what was viewed as a crucial debate performance. After this incident another leak emerged with the release of a recording which appeared to position Roe telling DeSantis he had 60 days to turn around his campaign woes or lose his financial support. DeSantis is apparently steadfast in his anti-marijuana position and time will tell what position his PAC factors into the matter.  

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