The highest ranking Democrat in Florida is taking on the leader of her party—and the country—over weed and guns.
Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner and a Democratic candidate for governor, “plans to sue the Biden administration Wednesday to try to block a federal rule that prohibits medical marijuana users from buying guns or maintaining concealed-carry permits,” according to NBC News, which obtained a copy of Fried’s lawsuit.
“I’m suing the Biden Administration because people’s rights are being limited. Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal,” Fried said in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both.”
(The 4/20 announcement of Fried’s lawsuit against the Biden administration was not a coincidence, by the way.)
NBC reported that the “lawsuit targets a federal form that asks whether the gun buyer is an unlawful user of drugs and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law.”
Prospective customers who check “yes” are denied and those who lie “[run] the risk of a five-year prison sentence for making a false statement,” according to NBC News.
The lawsuit from Fried, who is currently the only Florida Democrat holding a statewide office, will have a major bearing on her own jurisdiction, where medical cannabis has been legal since voters there passed an initiative in 2016 and where gun ownership is ubiquitous.
But it could also set a precedent for the dozens of other states where medical cannabis is legal.
Fried is a longtime champion of cannabis reform. “I’ve always been pro-cannabis but didn’t really understand the movement [early on],” she told High Times in an interview last year, saying that her passion was sparked as a student at the University of Florida.
She won her race for agriculture commissioner in 2018 on a platform dedicated to changing Florida’s cannabis laws.
“At the time, we weren’t talking legalization, we were trying to still get medical, but they knew that I was in favor of legalization when the time was right for Florida,” Fried told High Times.
Fried has ramped up her legalization push in her gubernatorial campaign, which she launched last year.
She is running for the Democratic nomination against Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor turned Democratic congressman. Both candidates have pledged to legalize cannabis for adults if elected, but Fried has called out Crist on his GOP past, saying in October that people have been imprisoned, and Crist and other Republicans “supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills.”
Fried and Crist are vying for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate who has said that recreational cannabis will not be legalized while he’s in office.
“Not while I’m governor,” DeSantis said in 2019. “I mean look, when that is introduced with teenagers and young people, I think it has a really detrimental effect to their well being and their maturity.”
Polls show that both Democrats are longshots against the incumbent.
“Ron DeSantis is motivated by money,” Fried told High Times last year in explaining the governor’s opposition to cannabis reform. “I think his motivation is more his ability to raise money.”
As NBC News explained, the lawsuit “is laden with political opportunity for Fried, who became the only Democrat elected statewide in 2018 when she ran on an unabashedly pro-cannabis platform,” with polls repeatedly showing that a majority of Floridians—like the rest of the country—support legalizing pot.
According to NBC, Fried “is bringing the suit with three citizens who have been affected by the federal rules,” and the suit “names the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants.”