TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida now has a director of cannabis.
- Holly Bell named state's director of cannabis
- Will be part of making rules for hemp production
- Tasked with expanding medical marijuana access
- RELATED: Florida Government Guide
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Wednesday that Holly Bell would take on the newly-created position.
Fried says the new office will be used to expand patient access to medical marijuana across the state.
"We can grow all we want," Fried said. "But if we've got no way to divide it and to actually process it, then we have a lot of missed profits back on the field.
Much of the medical marijuana apparatus in Florida is currently housed under the Florida Department of Health, which falls under Gov. Ron DeSantis' purview.
But Fried said last month that if DeSantis' and the Florida Legislature do not follow through on conciliatory gestures meant to help expand patient access, such as removing Florida's smokeable medical marijuana ban, Bell, as cannabis czar, would be empowered to get involved.
"After eight years of slow progress, we can finally begin putting cannabis to work for farmers, consumers, patients here in Florida," Bell said at a news conference Wednesday.
Bell would also be in charge of the rulemaking process for growing hemp in the state. Last year's Farm Bill legalized regulated hemp production.
Bell is a Nashville-based business consultant for the hemp and cannabis industry, along with the entertainment and finance industries. Most recently, she worked with a company in Colorado that connected cannabis businesses with financial groups.
"Holly has developed, from her time in Tennessee and in the industry, business relationships, and so we will be doing a lot of traveling to these areas and trying to lure in those corporate people here so there's more job development," Fried explained.
Fried herself is a former medical marijuana lobbyist.