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Medical Marijuana A Key Issue In FL Agriculture Commissioner Race

Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, says her campaign account with Wells Fargo was closed by the bank because of her advocacy for medical marijuana. She is shown here speaking in Florida's Capitol on Aug. 20, 2018
Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, says her campaign account with Wells Fargo was closed by the bank because of her advocacy for medical marijuana. She is shown here speaking in Florida's Capitol on Aug. 20, 2018
Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, says her campaign account with Wells Fargo was closed by the bank because of her advocacy for medical marijuana. She is shown here speaking in Florida's Capitol on Aug. 20, 2018
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSUNews
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Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

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.

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Shawn Mulcahy is a junior at Florida State University pursuing a degree in public relations and political science. Before WFSU, he worked as an Account Coordinator at RB Oppenheim Associates and a contributing indie writer for the music blog EARMILK. After graduation, he plans to work in journalism or government communications. He enjoys coffee, reading and music.