Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is competing with Republican celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the state's 2022 U.S. Senate race, has made no secret of his view that marijuana should be fully legalized nationwide for consenting adults. When Republican strategist and former Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News on Monday night, September 26, she attacked Fetterman's pro-marijuana views while emphasizing that Pennsylvania has a severe opioid crisis. And following that interview, Conway has been brutally mocked on Twitter for conflating marijuana use with fentanyl.
Conway said of Fetterman, "He put the marijuana flag up. He thought that was funny. He's trolling his opponent. He thinks that's funny. Here's what's not funny: that there's been a doubling of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania while he's been in office from 2015 to 2021. Fentanyl is rankling every corner of this state."
Pennsylvania does have a drug crisis, but it has nothing to do with marijuana. The troubled Kensington section of Philadelphia is infamous for attracting countless addicts, many of them homeless; however, the tragedy in Kensington, Fetterman's Philly-based supporters have pointed out, isn't because of marijuana, but because of fentanyl, crack, heroin and other hard drugs.
One of the people who slammed Conway on Twitter for conflating marijuana and fentanyl is former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, a Never Trump conservative who has been a key player in the anti-MAGA Lincoln Project. On September 27, Schmidt tweeted, "I thought @JohnFetterman put it up to protest the abject stupidity of the US Govt spending $50 billion in taxpayer money on a marijuana crusade that is riddled with hypocrisy. Who gets locked up? Black people. Marijuana and Fentanyl have as much to do with each other as Coors."
Schmidt also posted, "It's all nonsense. Cannabis is legal in many states and has never killed anyone. @KellyannePolls has less credibility than Trump and may be the only American who stands as a true peer of his when it comes to lying. She sold out America for fame and power. Not credible."
Schmidt, ironically, is on very friendly terms with Conway's husband, conservative attorney George Conway —another Never Trumper who has been active in The Lincoln Project. While Kellyanne Conway was a staunch defender of Donald Trump during his four years in the White House, her husband has been one of Trump's most scathing critics on the right.
Another conservative Never Trumper, Cheri Jacobus, also lambasted Kellyanne Conway on Twitter, writing, "If marijuana deaths were doubled, the number would still be zero, you gaslighting cartoon."
Twitter user Lori Sirianni, @4AnimalLife, "If weed caused overdoses, Canadians would be dropping like flies bc it was legalized nationwide in 2018. There's cannabis stores everywhere plus provincial govts sell it online, like Ontario's."
In Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, Oz has claimed that Fetterman, as lieutenant governor, hasn't been doing enough to combat Pennsylvania's drug crisis. But Oz has drawn vehement criticism from Philadelphia residents for his wildly misleading comments about the city's drug crisis.
Oz, on August 29, told a crowd in Monroeville, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, "Go down to Downtown Philadelphia — I see a little bit in Pittsburgh now too, but more in Philadelphia — there are whole blocks, multiple blocks and areas you can't go. There are addicts walking like zombies into the street with needles sticking out of their necks."
But Philly residents were quick to point out that Oz obviously wasn't describing Center City, Philly's very gentrified and pricy downtown area, but rather, Kensington — which is several miles away. In Center City, there are no "whole blocks, multiple blocks" that have been overtaken by drug addicts. Fetterman's allies have said that Oz's comments in Monroeville show how little he knows about the largest city in the state that he wants to represent.