by Lee Williams
SAF Investigative Journalism Project
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Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has always been a bit of an enigma in the Sunshine State. She’s the only Democrat elected to statewide office. She’s running for governor against popular Republican incumbent, Gov. Ron DeSantis, if she can make it through a tight Democratic primary. Her office oversees Florida’s Concealed Weapon and Firearm Licensing program, and she’s a former lobbyist for the cannabis industry and a vocal cannabis advocate.
Fried has said publicly she possesses both a Florida CWFL and a state medical marijuana card – Florida is one of 37 states that have legalized medicinal cannabis. This has raised questions about how Fried purchases firearms, because of the cannabis prohibition on the 4473. The form asks would-be gun purchasers if they are an unlawful drug user, and it explains that cannabis is still considered an illegal drug under federal law:
“Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
Lying on a 4473 is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
Now, according to NBC News, Fried is suing the Biden-Harris administration, the ATF and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland over the cannabis prohibition on the 4473, claiming that it violates the Second Amendment rights of lawful cannabis users. She brought the lawsuit officially as the state’s Agriculture Commissioner, on behalf of three Floridians who she claims were barred from purchasing firearms based upon their use of medical cannabis. The suit has yet to be formally filed – NBC says they were given a draft copy, which Fried’s staff said they hoped to file today, on 4/20.
“Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is all about people’s rights,” Fried told NBC News. “And I don’t care who I have to sue to fight for their freedom.”
Recently, Fried’s campaign for governor has been flailing. She has changed-up her communication staff but has yet to make significant headway against her primary opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist, who was recently endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her 4/20 lawsuit could likely become a campaign issue, since a majority of Floridians support both medical and recreational cannabis use, and millions have obtained CWFLs.
Fried has repeatedly stressed she is a “gun owner,” but her stewardship of the CWFL program has been plagued with problems and lawsuits. Fried has also supported a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Florida’s powerful preemption statute, which allows only the state legislature to regulate firearms. Any local government official who violates the preemption statute can face civil fines of up to $5,000 – which they must pay personally – in addition to removal from office.
“Once again, Florida Republicans are attempting to punish local governments for taking actions to protect their communities. The penalties imposed by this law are draconian and unconstitutional. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: no one knows their communities better than those who are closest to the people. Republicans in Tallahassee need to stop punishing local officials for doing what their communities are electing them to do,” Fried said of the preemption statute in a statement last year.
The preemption statute is the bedrock for all of Florida’s pro-gun laws. If it is repealed, any county or city government could establish their own gun laws and gun-free zones. The lawsuit against the statue coincided with attacks on preemption statutes in other states, which were organized and funded by anti-gun groups.
The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project wouldn’t be possible without you. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support pro-gun stories like this.