Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said Wednesday that she will legalize “weed” if elected the state’s governor.
“Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal,” Fried, a Democrat, posted to Twitter Wednesday, reports WEAR-TV.
Along with her advocacy for marijuana, the commissioner said she would be suing the federal government “because people’s right are being limited.” Fried takes issue with the fact that federal law still prohibits medical marijuana users from possessing and purchasing firearms. She hopes to change that with a lawsuit, reports WINK News.
Marijuana Users Prohibited From Having Guns
Guidance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prohibits an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.”
This, in a nutshell, means that Cannabis users are, by federal law, prohibited from having guns. The guidance goes even farther (in the wrong direction, of course), to leave absolutely no doubt on its intent.
It states “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medical purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”
“Everybody Has To Do What They Feel Is Important”
The commissioner believes federal guidance forces people to choose between their rights and medicine, reports Florida Politics.
Fried admits the timing of the suit is not the best, but believes that “everybody has to do what they feel is important”. “This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both,” the gubernatorial candidate posted to Twitter.
Fried describes this law as discrimination. “Discrimination unique to medical marijuana patients, and not any other patients who have legal prescriptions for other medications are all due to the federal government’s continued misguided cannabis prohibition,” she said.
According to Fried, the lawsuit is about people’s rights and freedoms to responsibly have both guns and marijuana.
Fried Has Made Cannabis Reform A Key Focus
The commissioner also wants to overhaul the regulations imposed on Florida medical marijuana companies. Fried is seeking, as well, to expunge the criminal records of those convicted with nonviolent weed offenses, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Since she entered the political fray in 2018, Fried has made Cannabis reform a key focus.
But Fried’s track record as the only statewide elected Democrat shows the limits of her own marijuana activism. Cannabis policy is largely left to the Florida Legislature. That body is likely to be controlled by conservative, marijuana-hating Republicans for years to come.
Hemp For Victory
But some of the things Fried has pushed for have since become state policy.
The Florida Legislature, with the backing of Fried’s office, allowed farmers to grow and sell hemp in 2019. Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan measure legalizing industrial hemp.
Fried’s office lobbied heavily for the hemp bill. She worked to convince skeptical legislators that there’s a difference between marijuana and hemp. Dozens of products, including cannabidiol (CBD), are hemp-derived. Hemp is also used to make rope, fabrics, food, fuel, plastic, and building materials.
Fried Made It Easier To Get Into The Hemp Business
“The hemp bill was a true bipartisan effort to make Florida a leader in that emerging space,” wrote former Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, in a text message. He was the bill’s sponsor.
It was up to Fried’s office to begin writing rules around the Florida hemp program. She quickly decided to make it easier to get into the hemp business than the state’s medical cannabis industry.
Florida requires medical Cannabis business owners to control every aspect of production from farming to sale. The business model known as vertical integration.
That strict regulatory environment has made it all but impossible for anyone but the wealthiest investors to get into medical marijuana. Florida has licensed just 22 firms as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. When the Florida Supreme Court upheld that system in 2021, Fried blasted the decision.
“I Did Exactly What I Promised”
As agriculture commissioner, Fried set up rules making the Florida hemp program accessible to essentially any business owner. The state doesn’t limit on the number of hemp permits. Growers simply have to pass a background check.
Florida’s hemp industry turns two years old next week. Fried says it created $370 million in economic impact during its first year. Florida gave 800 hemp cultivation licenses across Florida. All but three Florida counties have hemp growing in them, Fried’s department says.
“We are known across the entire country as the gold standard,” Fried said in an interview last week. ”I know people all in the hemp industry and I did exactly what I promised: created an open marketplace where everybody has equal opportunity to succeed. And it’s working.”