Dr. Oz again took aim at his U.S. Senate opponent over his support for marijuana legalization—but, after being pressed on his past comments on the issue, he conceded that, yes, he’s personally in favor of medical cannabis, saying that it’s a “safer solution” compared to certain prescription drugs like opioids.
Mehmet Oz, a former TV health personality, claimed during an interview with Fox News on Thursday that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) wants to “legalize all drugs” and “doesn’t want to talk about” issues that he says are more important to Pennsylvanians.
The host pressed GOP candidate Oz on marijuana policy, asking for his reaction to the Democratic Senate nominee’s recent call for President Joe Biden to use executive authority to decriminalize marijuana ahead of his visit to Pittsburgh on Monday for a Labor Day parade, where Fetterman plans to speak with the president about cannabis reform.
Oz was also asked what he made of the newly announced initiative from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Fetterman to expedite pardons for people with low-level marijuana convictions on their records through the month of September.
Fetterman, who chairs the state Board of Pardons, previously said that he wants to process cannabis clemency for as many people as possible before leaving office.
“Listen, my issue is that he wants to legalize all drugs,” Oz said, misleadingly. “He even supports heroin injection sites, and we have the largest open-air drug market in the country here in Philadelphia. It is destroying the city.”
While Fetterman does back harm reduction approaches to substance misuse, including authorizing safe drug consumption sites, he’s campaigned on legalizing marijuana and says he would support decriminalizing possession of other currently illicit substances.
Polls show that, nationally, most Americans favor allowing overdose prevention sites. And 58 percent of Pennsylvanians back adult-use cannabis legalization. But Oz nonetheless argued that his opponent’s drug policy reform platform shows that he’s “out of touch with what’s going on in Pennsylvania” and is “completely missing the target.”
The interview then turned to the GOP nominee’s own cannabis record, with the host pointing out that it was just two years ago Oz called marijuana “one of the most underused tools in America,” saying that the plant is safer than alcohol.
“Oh no, I’m supportive of medical marijuana,” Oz clarified. “I think, with the doctor’s involvement—especially for seniors who have end of life issues, suffering from pain—I think it’s a safer solution than, for example, narcotics in many cases. But it has to be studied, and we have to understand it and, therefore, physicians should be involved.”
“I don’t want to give marijuana to every young person in America who’s struggling with getting through their day,” he added, seeming to imply that would occur under the broader legalization plan Fetterman backs. “We already have a problem with getting folks mobilized to enter the workforce. I think that’s a slippery slope.”
Oz and other Fetterman critics, including far-right provocateur Ann Coulter and former U.S. House Speaker New Gingrich, have also taken issue with a cannabis-themed flag that the lieutenant governor hung over his office balcony in Harrisburg. (Coulter falsely suggested that Fetterman deleted a tweet showing him holding the flag in a recent blog post.)
Prior to Wolf endorsing marijuana legalization, Fetterman also led a statewide listening tour to hear what residents had to say about the policy proposal. He touted his role in that tour on his Senate campaign website.
He also talked about his work to “legalize weed for jobs, justice, veterans, farmers and revenue” in a fundraising email early this year.
Fetterman previously said that farmers in his state could grow better marijuana than people in New Jersey—and that was one reason why Pennsylvania should expeditiously reform its cannabis laws.
In 2020, he hosted a virtual forum where he got advice on how to effectively implement a cannabis system from the lieutenant governors of Illinois and Michigan, which have enacted legalization.
The race for Pennsylvania governor has also put cannabis policy in the spotlight, with the pro-reform Democratic nominee Attorney General Josh Shapiro competing against the aggressively anti-legalization Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano.