On Tuesday, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried released a 30-page federal partnership plan called “Keeping America and Florida Growing.”
The plan includes a number of priorities, from strengthening rural communities and promoting the state’s farmers to expanding voting rights and equity. Among them, too: cannabis legalization, which has been a focus for Fried since her 2018 campaign.
It was unsurprising, then, that as Fried took questions from reporters Tuesday, she stood next to a sign that displayed key points from the plan, with “marijuana legalization” at the very top. While Fried didn’t share specifics, she said has discussed the plan with President Joe Biden’s administration, that her team has been in touch with the administration for weeks, and that they have “a great relationship.”
“Many of these ideas are ambitious,” Fried said. “But if there was ever a time that required bold action, this is it. Because, as the [President Biden] said, this is no time to just build back to the way things were before. We have to build America, and Florida, back better.”
“On behalf of the state of Florida,” she continued, addressing Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, “we support you.”
An adult use legalization bill has already been introduced in Florida, by the same lawmaker who proposed it last year. As one of the most populous states in the country, Florida’s cannabis market is expected to boom with adult use legalization. Medical cannabis is already legal, and the state’s business license holders include some of the highest-valued multistate operators in the US, like Trulieve and Curaleaf. But, as Fried noted Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis has said that legalization wouldn’t happen on his watch, and the legislature poses a major hurdle.
Fried, therefore, expects more action at the federal level when it comes to cannabis legalization. In the plan, a section on “Marijuana Legalization” reads: “We ask your Administration to work with Congress to federally legalize marijuana for adult use, following nearly a century of unnecessary prohibition.”
At the federal level, as Cannabis Wire recently reported, an unprecedented window has opened for reform. Already, this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, announced that they are working on a cannabis reform bill that focuses on criminal justice. “The Senate,” they said, “will make consideration of these reforms a priority.”
In response to a reporter’s question on Tuesday regarding what she expects on cannabis from the new administration, Fried said she was optimistic.
“During the campaign, we saw movement in where President Biden was on issues like medical marijuana,” Fried said. And when it comes to “marijuana policies,” she continued, there will be “opportunities” and “more of an appetite” than in any previous administration.