Fort Lauderdale attorney and medical marijuana advocate Nicole “Nikki” Fried won the Democratic nomination in the race to become Florida’s next agriculture commissioner, one of Florida’ most powerful Cabinet posts. The position entails much more than overseeing the agriculture industry. The commissioner is also responsible for fielding consumer complaints, managing gun permits, regulating gas stations and ensuring food safety.
Fried ran against fellow Democrats Jeffrey Porter and R. David Walker for the nomination. She received nearly 60 percent of the vote, compared to 25 percent for Walker, a South Florida environmental scientist and 15 percent for Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter.
In her campaign biography, Fried stated that she is running for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture because she witnessed firsthand how the state’s “politicians failed the people with medical marijuana. Despite 72% of Floridians voting to approve a medical marijuana law, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have obstructed its implementation and denied access to sick, injured and dying individuals.” She was referring to the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, that was approved by voters in the 2016 general election, yet still faces legal and regulatory challenges.
Fried, 40, was in the news less than two weeks ago when Wells Fargo ordered the closing of her campaign account because of contributions she had accepted from the medical marijuana industry.
The Miami native received her bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees at the University of Florida, where she served as student-body president. Before heading into private practice, Fried worked for the Alachua County Public Defender’s office, where she was the head of the Felony Division.
As a lobbyist during the 2018 legislative session, she represented the Florida’s Children First social-service advocacy agency; the Broward County School Board; and San Felasco Nurseries, one of Florida’s first medical-marijuana license-holders.
Fried will run against Republican Nominee Matt Caldwell in the November election.