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Republican Mehmet Oz, currently awaiting results of a razor-thin U.S. Senate primary race against former hedge fund CEO David McCormick in Pennsylvania, went on a marijuana rant while stumping before voting day. In essence, he said that people who smoke weed won’t want to work, which will aggravate an already high unemployment rate in The Keystone State.
Of course, that’s a correlation he can’t prove, but others can. Newsweek was just one outlet to break down his false claims and fact check them. The result: He’s incorrect. Here’s why.
What he said
Discussing marijuana with Newsmax in May, Oz made several rather absurd claims, like that “giving” Pennsylvanians pot so “they stay home” isn’t “an ideal move.” He said he didn’t want to “breed addiction to marijuana,” which isn’t a physical attachment, but an emotional one. He added that he doesn’t want people operating heavy machinery around him, “driving by me when they’re taking their fourth joint of the day.”
But the whopper was the most profound: “I don’t want young people to think they have to smoke a joint to get out of the house in the morning. We need to get Pennsylvanians back at work, got to give them their mojo, and I don’t want marijuana to be a hindrance to that…”
Why that’s a red herring
As Leafly and others have pointed out, this is a ridiculous claim based more on assumption than fact.
Pennsylvania has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, higher than many other states with legalized recreational-use marijuana. Some legal-use states do have high unemployment rates, like California, New Mexico, and Nevada, but many where it’s not legal — Delaware and Texas, in addition to Pennsylvania — also have above average unemployment.
And if he really wanted to talk facts, Oz would know that a pro-cannabis economy (medical or recreational) creates jobs — even in Pennsylvania. Not to mention tax revenue collected from legal sales going towards social programs that could, in theory, help alleviate joblessness and go towards more mental health and substance abuse initiatives.
His correlation that weed will raise unemployment simply doesn’t apply here because clearly there are other factors at play, all of which have nothing to do with cannabis at all. And don’t even get us started on the fallacy that cannabis makes people lazy.
Should he win the Republican primary, Oz will run against Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D) for a U.S. Senate seat in November. Fetterman, who won May’s majority vote for the Democratic ticket, is a known cannabis advocate, a pro-weed politician pushing for legalization at the state and federal level.
Often seen in laid-back, non-politician clothing — shorts, T-shirts with marijuana leaves, and (gasp!) hoodies — the man knows who he is and hasn’t waffled on his platform. Oz is vehemently against cannabis legalization at the state or federal level, which goes against what the voters want: Support for reform has been at an all-time high since 2021.
With 19 states now legal — Rhode Island is the latest — along with Washington D.C., the country is moving towards, not away from, cannabis.