Florida Dem Gets Out of the Weeds

Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried relinquishes marijuana holdings after Free Beacon report

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried / Twitter
July 14, 2022

A Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate who has fought throughout her career to legalize marijuana is liquidating her marijuana dispensary stake of almost $200,000 following a Washington Free Beacon report.

Florida commissioner of agriculture Nikki Fried, who promises to legalize recreational marijuana if elected governor, holds a stake of roughly $183,000 in Trulieve, the state's most profitable medical marijuana provider, according to her most recent financial disclosure. But Fried on Wednesday told the Orlando Sentinel she is in the "process of liquidating" her Trulieve shares.

"There is no conflict," she said. "I made it very clear to the people of the state in 2018 that I came from the industry. That is what got me into my activism, my desire to not only expand the medical marijuana program, but also get to legalization."

Fried's financial holdings have drawn scrutiny in the past. The Florida Commission on Ethics in 2021 found probable cause that Fried violated state law for failing to disclose around $400,000 in lobbying income, a charge that Fried's team said it wants to appeal.

"It is a matter of public record that Commissioner Fried filed her financial disclosures months after the deadline and amended her 2018 disclosure, which revealed that her income that year was about five times higher than what she had earlier reported," Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R.), said in a statement. "Those facts are not in dispute."

Fried also told the Sentinel she is no longer engaged to medical marijuana entrepreneur Jake Bergmann, who holds interests in around a dozen cannabis companies, at least one of which received a hemp permit from Fried's agency. The commissioner denied involvement with the permit.

Fried will face former Florida governor Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary on Aug. 23.  She is trailing Crist by a large margin, according to a St. Pete Polls survey. Neither Democrat is likely to unseat DeSantis, a RealClearPolitics average of polls suggests. Fried's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.