Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried addressed the widely reported federal investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz on Tuesday, expressing qualms that the lurid details could leave a “bad taint” on the medical marijuana industry.
“I hope it’s not true,” Fried told reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee. “And I hope it’s not true for the marijuana industry.”
“We have been spending so much time, effort, and energy to expand access for patients across the entire country. And it is a mission of mine to make sure that there is affordable access. And the last thing that any of us would want is a bad taint on the marijuana industry because of alleged actions from [people involved in the industry].”
Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, said the allegations against Gaetz were alarming and disturbing, but she seemed to wonder if the wall-to-wall reporting would ever be substantiated with formal charges.
Federal investigators should either “make some decisions one way or another” or “move on,” Fried noted.
“The stories that are coming out, obviously, what we’re hearing and what I’m reading from you all is alarming, disturbing. I certainly hope that they’re not true,” Fried said. “I certainly hope that the FBI and the DOJ either come to a decision and make further findings or it’s time for the people of our country and our state to move on and get back to the business of governing.”
“Again, I hope that DOJ and the FBI do their job, make some decisions one way or another,” Fried affirmed. “We have a lot of work still ahead of us.”
Democrat Fried and Republican Gaetz are both proponents of the expansion of the medical marijuana space, as the commissioner noted.
But Gaetz’s advocacy for cannabis has come into question amid allegations of potential political corruption related to the sector’s expansion.
Reportedly, federal investigators are probing a 2018 trip Gaetz took with Dr. Jason Pirozzolo and Halsey Beshears to the Bahamas. Prosecutors with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are examining whether Gaetz took gifts, including travel and paid escorts, in exchange for political favors, according to CNN.