Tim James, a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, has expressed opposition to the state’s medical cannabis program, claiming that state officials want to create a “drug cartel,” according to an AL.com report.

“This is nothing but a bait and switch to desensitize and get recreational use started,” James said during a recent town hall forum, according to the news outlet. “Their dream is recreational pot and that is where they are going.”

James went on to also criticize the state’s medical cannabis program for not requiring stringent enough training for the doctors who will ultimately be able to recommend cannabis to their patients, AL.com reported.

James, a businessman and the son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James, is currently polling second behind incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey, according to the news outlet.

Ivey signed Alabama’s medical cannabis legislation into law in May 2021, and John McMillan, director of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, and Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), who championed the state’s legalization bill, told AL.com that James’ claims are inaccurate.

All the state’s Republican gubernatorial candidates oppose the adult-use cannabis legalization, according to the news outlet, except Springville Mayor Dave Thomas, who has expressed his support on the issue.

Alabama plans to open the application process for businesses seeking medical cannabis cultivation and distribution licenses on Sept. 1.

In the meantime, the Republican primary is set for May 24.