Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried creates ‘Director of Cannabis’ position

On Friday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced the creation of a new position dubbed the “director of cannabis” under the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services department. 

“We will be naming a director of cannabis in the coming of weeks,” Fried told reporters during Friday’s Cabinet meeting, according to a report from the website Florida Politics. Fried is the only Democrat in the state Cabinet. “That individual will oversee all of the different parts of the medical marijuana program that the Department oversees currently.”  

Fried added that the new position will also contribute toward “a full movement forward on to instituting hemp here in our state and moving forward on a rule-making process in accordance with the Farm Bill that was passed and signed in 2018.” 

In Florida, cannabis is regulated through the state Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. However, the Agriculture Department has  

been enforcing the Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program – which, as you might have guessed, is a (bummer) program that supports law enforcement agencies in shutting down homegrown weed-growing operations – through its Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement. 

But as the department’s website says, its food experts are required to oversee “processing requirements” of marijuana for edible consumption. Earlier this month, Trulieve, Florida’s largest medical cannabis provider, inked a deal with the Colorado-based company Binske to sell high-end edible marijuana products such as fruit leather, honey and olive oil. However, though edible cannabis products are permitted under state law, the Department of Health has yet to finalize a single regulation pertaining to edible products in the two years following Amendment 2’s approval by almost 71 percent of the state’s electorate. 

Yet perhaps there’s a light at the end of the Sunshine State’s smokeless tunnel (an important note: You also can’t legally smoke medical cannabis in Florida), and perhaps that light is a former marijuana lobbyist turned elected official named Fried, with a pro-cannabis platform. 

After all, at the risk of speaking too soon, even key members of the Florida GOP have begun to slack in their challenge of the state’s medical cannabis laws. An example, albeit one based on a wing and a prayer for medical cannabis users: Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was sworn in earlier this week, has said of a lawsuit filed by Orlando lawyer John Morgan that claims a 2017 law is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow patients to smoke, “I think at the end of the day when people speak on these things, we want to implement their will. I don’t think that that’s been done fully.”