cannabis

Normally, a chief financial officer's job involves poring over balance sheets and bank statements. But in the pot business, the job still bears a lot of similarities to the illicit trade — transporting loads of cash under the watchful eye of big guys carrying lots of guns.

Just ask Tom DiGiovanni.

This chief financial officer and former Ernst & Young accountant leans into an unmarked armored van where there's a metal cage to protect the revenues for his company, Canndescent, from would-be thieves.

News Service Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis signed his first piece of legislation earlier this week: a bill allowing smokable medical marijuana in the state of Florida. It's been one of the top priorities of his administration.

With plenty of breathing room before a March 15 deadline set by Gov. Ron DeSantis, House and Senate leaders have neared completion of a measure that would do away with a state ban on smoking medical marijuana. 

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of half a dozen Democratic senators running for the White House, is reintroducing a bill on Thursday that would fundamentally end the federal government's prohibition on marijuana.

The deadline is nearing for the Florida Legislature to put a bill allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana on the Governor’s desk. Both chambers have been moving quickly to finish in time, but still are not in agreement with one another. Now both sides are expecting to file other bills to address the things they can’t come to agreement on before time runs out.

medical marijuana
Flick Creative Commons via Mark / WLRN

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried has been an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana her first two months in office.

Lawmakers Give Green Light To Smokable Marijuana

Feb 12, 2019
IStock

Patients could soon be allowed to smoke medical marijuana, but they’d have to purchase pre-rolled joints with filters, under a measure approved by a key House panel Tuesday.

Committees in the House and Senate advanced legislation to nix Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, following an ultimatum issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis shortly after the Republican took office last month.

Citing a “tremendous safety threat,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is asking President Donald Trump to use his executive power to allow banks to do business with state-authorized medical marijuana companies. 

New Cannabis Chief Sees Potential In Hemp

Feb 6, 2019

Saying hemp is poised to be a “multibillion-dollar industry in the state,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday appointed the state’s first cannabis czar.

Fried, a Democrat elected in November who made increasing access to medical marijuana one of the cornerstones of her campaign, tapped Holly Bell, a former banker, to serve as director of cannabis. Fried created the position after taking over the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services last month.

Eliminating Pot Smoking Ban Faces Questions

Jan 30, 2019

Whether Florida lawmakers will do away with the state’s prohibition against smoking medical marijuana remains up in the air, despite an ultimatum issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Saying they failed to heed the will of voters, DeSantis this month ordered lawmakers to eliminate a ban on smokable medical marijuana and, if they don’t comply, threatened to drop the state’s appeal of a court ruling that found the prohibition violated a 2016 constitutional amendment.

IStock

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that he has asked the Legislature to change Florida law to allow smokable medical marijuana. He also wants to reduce restrictions on who can grow and sell cannabis products. And the new Agriculture Commissioner has plans to create a Director of Cannabis position.

So far, it appears that newly sworn in Florida lawmakers are taking a sharp turn from former Gov. Rick Scott’s approach to try to limit access to medical cannabis in Florida.

Report Details Growth Of Medical Marijuana

Dec 28, 2018
FLICKR

Despite a bumpy rollout that has drawn lawsuits and criticism from legislators, a new report shows the number of Floridians using medical marijuana continues to grow.

In the first nine months of 2018, more than 136,000 patients across the state received certifications from 1,070 physicians to receive medical marijuana.

State Fights Ruling On Medical Marijuana Law

Dec 26, 2018
medical marijuana
Flick Creative Commons via Mark / WLRN

Defending a 2017 law that set regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry, Florida Department of Health attorneys have asked an appeals court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling that they say “injected confusion and uncertainty” into the licensing of marijuana firms.

In a closely watched case, an appeals court this week agreed to put on hold a circuit judge’s ruling that said Florida lawmakers and the state Department of Health have violated a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

STEVEN SENNE / AP

When Nikki Fried was elected commissioner of agriculture, proponents of marijuana cheered because she was their advocate. But what does her newly elected office mean for the future of the cannabis industry in Florida?

The agriculture commissioner historically doesn’t really have much influence. The responsibilities of the commissioner, Fried, and those who work in the department include the regulation of pesticides, edible medical marijuana and, more notably, hemp production.

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