Nikki Fried


Founder of her lobbying firm, Igniting Florida; former attorney.

Nikki Fried is an unexpected candidate for commissioner of agriculture. This is her first run for public office, after serving for years as a lobbyist, particularly for the medical marijuana industry. That’s become a major focus of her campaign.

She’s a South Florida native and was an attorney before becoming a full-time lobbyist at her own firm, Igniting Florida. Her support fpr expanding medical marijuana use after approval in 2016 has caused her some trouble; Wells Fargo and BB&T both closed her campaign accounts because of her support from the medical marijuana industry (because marijuana use is still not legal on the federal level).

Her campaign could break ground in a few ways, if she wins.  She’ll be the first Democrat to hold the position since Robert Crawford lead the department from 1991-2001. She would also be the first woman to hold the position on a full-time basis. 

Here’s where she stands on a few key issues:

Marijuana regulation

As you might expect, Fried is supportive of expanding the use of medical marijuana across the state. But she told the Miami Herald that she wants marijuana regulation to be moved from the state’s health department to agriculture because she also sees an opportunity through the crop itself. She wants to see more attention given to the growth of cannabis and industrial hemp crops in Florida: “The fact that they have not allowed our farmers to start pursuing those avenues has really hurt the environment, our workforce.”

The Everglades and the environment

Like her opponent, Fried has said that the state’s Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan needs to be properly funded.

She said understanding the issue of what truly caused the spread of the toxic red tide and blue-green algae blooms across Florida’s coasts will be a priority for her as commissioner. She told the Miami Herald that on a trip to Fort Myers she talked to locals about the impacts of the algae blooms and said she wants to figure out, “What caused this? And how do we prevent it?”

Guns and concealed weapons permits

Fried has made it clear that she’s not opposed to gun ownership and owns a gun and a concealed weapons permit. She didn’t receive a rating from the NRA given her lack of political experience.

She told the Miami Herald that conducting an audit of the background check process will be a priority for her considering the department’s recent issues with background checks for concealed weapons, under Adam Putnam’s leadership.