Lee’s note: This just in from my good friend, senior reporter Billy Cox. It’s important to note that Agriculture Commissioner Fried oversees Florida’s popular concealed weapon licensing program.
Cox: Will the feds bust Nikki Fried?
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried flaunts federal law with a concealed carry permit and a marijuana card
by Billy Cox
SARASOTA — Could Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried get busted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents for violating federal law? According to the Schedule 1 regulation that governs America’s marijuana policy, the answer would appear to be yes.
Fried, the only Democrat in the Florida Cabinet, devoted much of her 2018 campaign to advocating for greater access to medical marijuana in Florida. Problem: she has also made no secret of her licenses to buy medical marijuana and to carry a concealed weapon.
“I have both,” Fried said on a Trulieve-sponsored Marijuana Solution podcast shortly before taking office in January. “So I want to make that very clear, that I will not be taking anybody’s concealed weapons permit … or not renewing them. I see no conflict between the two.”
But the federal government does. Classified by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as a Schedule 1 drug,
marijuana by definition has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Federal law would seem to trump state concealed-carry laws, meaning, in some experts opinions, Fried cannot legally have both her cards.
Although science has, for many people, long since demolished that assertion and more three million Americans are estimated to be registered medical cannabis users, the federal definition hasn’t budged an inch since Richard Nixon signed it into law nearly 50 years ago. And as the ATF made clear when it updated in 2016 its Form 4473 — the background check that gun buyers must complete before making a purchase from licensed dealers — what state legislatures do is irrelevant.
“Warning,” it begins in boldface type. “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.”
Nearly one out of three Floridians are estimated to own guns, and as medical cannabis gains in popularity, so do commensurate anxieties about the law.
“We deal with people who already have guns, and it’s one of the most common questions we get about medical marijuana,” says certified financial planner Cindy Clark who, along with fellow Sarasota attorney Jeff Young, conducts “Ask The Gun Lawyer” Q&A sessions with local gun dealers.
“A lot of medical marijuana distributors will tell them, ‘Oh, no problem, if you’ve got a medical card, don’t worry, you’re golden,’ and that’s just not true,” says Clark. “But all we do is tell people the law. And if you want to break it, well, that’s up to you.”
Young recalls an angry medical marijuana distributor from Miami telling Young to stop giving out bad information about guns and weed. The dispensary owner maintained that Floridians could legally indulge both because he saw Fried “standing on the courthouse steps and hold up a marijuana card in one hand and a concealed carry card in the other.”
When Young tried to correct him, the distributor said you could lie about marijuana use on your gun permit
application and the law would never find out if you had a medical card because “under HIPPA (medical privacy) laws, there’s no cross-checking of those things.”
In fact, according to a Washington Post review of 112,000 federal gun-purchase denials in 2017 because of
applicants identified in “forbidden categories,” the ATF investigated 12,700 and prosecuted just 12.
But, Young told the dispenser, if your gun is involved in a shooting incident and “the cops go through your wallet and find both cards, they can pull your 4473, and if you marked ‘no’ at the same time you had a medical marijuana card, they can charge you with falsifying your 4473, which is a felony.”
When the Herald-Tribune contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for
clarification, press secretary Max Flugrath stated: “The issue is pretty clear” in an email.
“Florida Statute 790.06 provides a limited list of factors (such as felony arrests, whether the instructor deems the applicant capable, etc.) upon which our Department must approve or deny a concealed weapons license. Therefore, the Department is prohibited from asking questions outside that scope, which would include medical marijuana card possession.”
However, a deeper dive into that statute — specifically 790.06(2)(n) — sets a list of conditions concealed carry applicants must meet, so long as they’re not in violation of “any other provision of Florida or federal law.” Those words again. Federal law.
Click here to read the entire story.