Dr. Jason Pirozzolo is in the spotlight this week for his ties to Rep. Matt Gaetz. Pirozzolo is a Florida hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who has previously donated to the congressman’s campaigns.
Pirozzolo is co-founder of the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association, where he currently serves as chairman of the board. Gaetz spoke at AMMPA conferences in 2017 and 2018.
The surgeon made two $1,000 donations to Friends of Matt Gaetz, the campaign group for the Florida Republican, in March 2016 and May 2017.
Gaetz spoke to The Orlando Sentinel about Pirozzolo in 2019.
“Dr. Pirozzolo served on the health care transition team,” Gaetz told the newspaper.
“I asked him to make transition recommendations for the Department of Health and to interview for the position of surgeon general, which he did.”
The marijuana entrepreneur was not nominated to serve as Florida surgeon general, but Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Pirozzolo to the governing board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority on Gaetz’s recommendation. The GOAA oversees Orlando airport.
Pirozzolo told the Sentinel in a 2019 email: “Luckily, the DeSantis team made the decision easy for me and due to the fact that I was heavily involved with the medical marijuana industry and had multiple businesses in medical marijuana,” Pirozzolo told the Sentinel in a 2019 email.
“The [surgeon general] and [Department of Health] run the medical marijuana industry here in Florida, [so] even if I divested entirely that would be an insurmountable conflict of interest.”
Pirozzolo spoke to the Ganjapreneur.com podcast in July 2018 about Gaetz’s efforts to introduce federal legislation to increase research into medicinal uses of cannabis.
“In fact, Congressman Matt Gaetz is in the process of working on legislation up in Washington, D.C. that will help facilitate research on the nationwide level. And we should see a lot of good benefit from them,” he said.
“We’ve got congressmen that are actually dealing with this federal legislation right now,” he said.
Gaetz has twice introduced a medical cannabis research act, first in April 2018 and then in January 2019. The bill did not come up for a vote before the House of Representatives.
The congressman, who represents Florida’s 1st district, is facing an investigation into allegations of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. He denies the allegations and has said they are part of a $25 million extortion plot against him.
Newsweek has asked Jason Pirozzolo for comment on this article.