Florida medical marijuana patients outraged over unsolicited email praising Gov. DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s Department of Health recently sent an email to its nearly 700,000 medical marijuana patient list praising Governor Ron DeSantis, who is opposing a proposal for recreational marijuana use, for his achievements.


This message, which praised initiatives like a cancer research program promoted by First Lady Casey DeSantis and highlighted spending on health issues such as HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis, did not mention medical marijuana.

Patients and advocates are outraged, claiming the DeSantis administration misused their contact information for political promotion.

“That is revolting. That is really such a misuse of power and information,” said State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, the ranking Democrat on the House Health Policy Committee. “I guarantee you nobody checked the box that said, ‘Yes, it’s OK to send me information on Gov. DeSantis’ agenda.’”

The Department of Health defended the email, stating it was sent to all individuals in its databases, totaling over two million members of the public, healthcare professionals, licensees, and media.

Spokeswoman Weesam Khoury criticized the media’s focus on the email, arguing, “It is unfortunate that [The Associated Press] has decided to write a story about the inconvenience of an email, rather than covering the key investments that will save countless lives.”

Advocates argue that email is more than an inconvenience; it’s a privacy violation. Florida’s broad public records laws could allow someone to deduce who is a medical marijuana patient, as they make up about 35% of the recipients. This exposure could lead to unwanted marketing, political messages, or worse—employment discrimination.

Jodi James, president of the nonprofit Florida Cannabis Action Network, stated, “My information should not be part of their general email blast list by any stretch of the imagination.”

Ironically, Gov. DeSantis has been vocal against “Big Tech,” accusing companies of misusing personal information.

State Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried, a former agriculture commissioner, called the action irresponsible: “I would have been scorched alive if I had done anything with that database to either release their information to another part of my agency or to have used that database for pushing the rest of the news or activities from the Department of Agriculture.”

A Pensacola medical marijuana patient plans to file a formal complaint, stressing the seriousness of the issue: “If it was a doctor that put out your private patient information for some other agenda, I feel like somebody should be held accountable.”

Personal injury lawyer John Morgan, who led the state’s 2016 medical marijuana effort, questioned whether the email violated federal laws on the release of medical information. He also pointed out the potential for political misuse of the email list, especially in the context of promoting recreational marijuana in the upcoming November election.

“That would be the greatest list they could ever have for this election,” Morgan said.

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