Nikki Fried, fellow Democratic candidates call for a state-run bank to manage medical cannabis funds

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried, Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith joined forces to call for a state-run bank to handle medical cannabis finances Tuesday.

Their argument: A Florida-run bank would serve as a depository for growers, license holders, patients and doctors, and it would protect banks that are handling money linked to the marijuana industry in the process. It would also allow the cannabis industry to grow and open the market. 

In August, Wells Fargo closed Fried's campaign account, citing the bank's policy against serving marijuana-related businesses. (Fried has received campaign contributions from cannabis businesses.)  Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug alongside substances such as heroin, LSD, mescaline and MDMA, among others.

Fried, a Fort Lauderdale attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist, is facing off against Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the Nov. 6 election. The winner will replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. 

In November 2016, 71 percent of Sunshine State voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Amendment 2, which provided patients with a qualified medical condition the right to use medical marijuana. However, in the ensuing years since voters spoke on the issue, the state has dragged its bureaucratic feet on implementing it.

Fried has reportedly said legalization of marijuana in Florida is "inevitable."

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