Medical Marijuana And The Florida Agriculture Commissioner Race

September 12, 2018

Florida democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is making medical marijuana a key part of her platform. The South Florida lobbyist is calling for federal legislation and vowing to expand the state’s medical marijuana industry.

Fried sprung onto the national stage after Wells Fargo closed her campaign account for receiving donations from medical marijuana activists. Since then, she has turned the issue into a key campaign topic.

“The people have spoken – and we keep speaking – but Tallahassee politicians are not listening,” says Fried.

It’s been nearly two years since Floridians overwhelmingly passed the medical marijuana initiative. But state officials have been slow to develop and implement the new laws. Fried vows to change that.

Among her proposals: removing state licensing barriers in place for growers and retailers, not penalizing financial institutions for working with marijuana retailers, and maybe even starting a state bank.

“Something that I have been proposing as well is a state bank that is controlled by the cabinet that we can take dollars from the companies, from patients, and it can be housed in one location,” argues Fried.

She believes a state-chartered bank would force the cabinet to fight against federal regulations and protect the interests of the marijuana industry.

Fried’s opponent, state Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-North Fort Meyers), also supports expanding medical marijuana. He advocates for licensing more dispensaries and bringing oversight of the industry under the Department of Agriculture from the Department of Health.

A Democratic candidate in the race for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture says she’s been “targeted” after her campaign account was closed by Wells Fargo. Nikki Fried claims it’s because of her advocacy for medical marijuana in Florida.

Fried is raising questions as to why her account was shuttered after she received donations from lobbyists supporting medicinal marijuana.

“I wonder, how many other accounts they are not looking at? We know across the country that there are candidates out there supporting advocacy for medical purposes and they haven’t shut down their accounts,” Fried said. “Or any of the law firms, or any of the other lobbying shops that have clients for medical marijuana. I was specifically targeted.”

Fried addressed reporters at the Capitol Monday, claiming her campaign being singled out is indicative of the scrutiny medical pot operations face every day.

“At a time when 30 states including Washington D.C. has legalized medical marijuana, and licensed businesses to practice and distribute marijuana to patients and caregivers, access to basic financial stability is virtually impossible to these legal businesses,” Fried said.

Fried says she supports medical marijuana because it’s the will of the voters.

“I am not touching the plant, I am not selling the plant, I am not producing the plant,” Fried said. “I am simply advocating for the expansion of medical marijuana, and that was the reason for closing me down.”

In a statement, Wells Fargo says its policy is “not to bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses.”

The Department of Agriculture oversees some aspects of the medical marijuana industry in Florida, including those related to pesticides, food safety, marijuana doctors in Orlando Florida and more.

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