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How did the Gaetz trial turn from sex trafficking into a medical cauldron?

ORLANDO, Fllaria (AP) – When Rep. Matt Gaetz took a vacation in the Bahamas in 2018, joined by a doctor who dedicated his campaign նախկին a former partner of the state legislature in the state of Florida.

Republican Congressman Dr. Ason Eason Pirozzolo և Halcy Beshiers were united in enjoying politics, luxury travel, and the company of beautiful women. They also had another mutual interest. Florida’s $ 1.2 billion medical marijuana industry.

The direction of the Bahamas is a central element of the federal investigation into Gaat, which has suddenly jeopardized his political career. According to those familiar with the investigation, what began as an investigation into sex trafficking, whether Gaetz paid for sex with a minor woman, has turned into a larger review of social corruption.

Investigators are looking into whether Gaetz և and his associates tried to provide women with jobs for some women. They are examining in detail Gaetz’s links to the medical marijuana sector, including whether Pirozzolo and others have tried to influence Gaetz-sponsored legislation. The investigation includes legislation from 2018, when Gaets was in Congress, և previously worked in the state legislature, according to one of the people.

Pressure on the congressman may increase in the coming weeks as Gaetz’s co-founder Joel Greenberg, who is accused of trafficking in minors, faces a May 15 deadline to file a lawsuit with prosecutors. If it does, Greenberg could press for cooperation with federal investigators to bring harmful information to Gaet.

None of the people traveling to the Bahamas has been charged with the crime. Gaetz categorically denies any wrongdoing և retaining high-powered lawyers. The congressman and his representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Beshers և Pirozzolo’s lawyer declined to comment on the story.

The Associated Press spoke with more than 10 people who are familiar with the dynamics of Gaetz, Pirozzolo և Beshears. Three of the people knew about the investigation. They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the ongoing investigation in public.

Gaet’s interest in medical marijuana dates back almost a decade when he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. To support Donald Trump firmly before he gained national attention, Gaets established an unusual reputation in Tallahassee as a Republican who wanted to liberalize marijuana laws.

In February 2014, Gaets co-sponsored the first state effort to authorize marijuana for medical use. His offer to allow the use of a non-hallucinogenic marijuana extract was limited to cancer or severe epilepsy;

Gaetz presented his proposal as a proportionally chosen alternative to a nationwide voting measure that widely legalized medical marijuana. The Gaetz bill was approved with broad bipartisan support; it was signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in June 2014, while nationwide measurements failed at the ballot box in November.

On the day Gaetz was sized to vote in the Florida House of Representatives for the final debate, Pirozzolo and Beshirs were on the floor.

Beshirs was a GOP member of the legislature that joined Gaetz to support legislation. Orlando’s hand doctor և pilot Pirozzolo served there for legislators as a doctor of the day. A role he would often take on his flight to Thalassas.

Once the legislation was passed, it created lucrative new opportunities for the Beshers family իր Pirozzolo.

The Beshers family-owned nursery has been awarded one of five highly coveted licenses to develop and distribute medical marijuana.

Legislation has been written to specify և to limit who can obtain such a license. A correction added by another legislature in the Florida House limits the number of applicants to kindergartens who have worked for 30 years with և 400,000 or more plants.

The Beshers family nursery, joining two other growers, met that standard.

In 2014, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Beshers had failed to submit a conflict of interest report when he voted on the bill, ող the lawmaker sponsoring the amendment wants to “make a mistake in limiting who can now qualify.” , when it starts. new industry. Since then, more patents have been issued, but the industry is still tightly controlled.

Another amendment to the 2014 legislation, the day Pirozzolo visited the Chamber, required outpatient applicants to work as a medical director.

Eight days later, Pirozzolo set up a consulting firm that linked the marijuana business to medical directors, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He later founded a group called the American Medical Marijuana Doctors Association, which advocates for doctors who offer medical cannabis.

Gaetz has spoken at least twice at the association’s annual conferences, including a meeting with Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone, according to the group սոցիալական’s member’s social media accounts.

In 2018, at the suggestion of Gaetz և Beshears, Pirozzo was appointed by current Florida Gov. Ron Desantis to serve on the board of directors of Orlando International Airport. In 2019, he was standing next to DeSantis at the airport intersection, greeting Trump as he arrived in Orlando to begin his re-election campaign, according to an online video posted by an Orlando Sentinel reporter.

Two years after Gaetz’s first medical marijuana law, he sponsored another measure by the Florida Legislature to spread the word, allowing dying patients to use all-volume, non-smoking marijuana.

On the day of the vote in the House of Florida, the Beshers voted for it, and Pirozzolo witnessed it again as a doctor of the day.

While Gaetz was in Congress in 2018, he enacted legislation that would increase the number of cannabis researchers. The legislation included provisions similar to those of Pirozzolo, which required him to expand his research.

Almost five months later, the men would meet in the Bahamas.

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Balsamo reports from Washington. Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Texas, Florida, and Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, participated in this report.

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Follow Wine on Twitter at twitter.com/michellelprice և Balsamo at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.

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