GOP Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz said President Biden’s decision to pardon people convicted federally for simple marijuana possession was a “rational move,” just weeks ahead of the election.
Oz’s comments mirror the stance held by his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. A Fox News poll conducted last month has Fetterman leading 45% to 41%.
“Going to jail for marijuana is not a wise move for the country. I think folks who have used marijuana, and that’s the only reason they’re in jail, should not have those criminal — those rulings held against them,” Oz said in a TV interview on Thursday.
Biden announced last week he would pardon people in federal prison for simple marijuana possession and called on governors to pardon those convicted of the same at the state level. The move by Biden clears the records of roughly 6,500 people convicted in federal court of simple marijuana possession.
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Oz also said in the interview that he opposes federal mandatory minimum prison sentences, a contrast to Fetterman’s remarks from earlier this month in which the Democrat expressed support for applying the mandatory minimums when it comes to fentanyl dealers. Oz has criticized his opponent for being too soft on crime.
“I really think judges should be empowered to make the difficult decisions, and they generally do it well,” Oz said. “When we tie their hands by making laws at the federal level, it hinders their ability to do what needs to be done.”
The Trump-endorsed Republican was also asked about his stance on the death penalty for drug dealers, which the former president has pushed for.
“I think an appropriate — potentially death penalty, but an appropriate harsh penalty for people especially bringing fentanyl into this country — it might be the death penalty,” Oz said.
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Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May and has since struggled with auditory processing issues and speaking clearly, has used closed captioning during interviews to be able to understand a reporter’s questions.
Oz has repeatedly called out Fetterman for not being transparent about his health and has pressured his opponent to release his medical records. Oz, a former heart surgeon and talk show host, recently released his medical records in which Dr. Rebecca Kurth in New York City wrote a four-page letter saying he is in “excellent health.”
The Republican said he has “tremendous compassion” for what Fetterman has experienced and that he believes people with disabilities can and should serve.
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“The issue for me is the voters of Pennsylvania deserve transparency,” Oz said. “When you were asking questions of John Fetterman about his medical records, I was watching his responses and thinking he probably does want to release his records. But he’s not. So why not?”
Fetterman said earlier this month when pressed on why he has failed to release his medical records that he is not aware of any undisclosed symptoms and that he has been open with the public about his health and recovery.
The two candidates are scheduled to participate in their one and only debate on Oct. 25. Oz has requested for more than one debate.