It’s been a summer of anniversaries, large and small, for people and institutions across Northeast Florida, as you may have noticed. It’s the 200th anniversary of the city itself (which was founded on a Saturday, very on-brand), the 100th anniversary of the Garden Club, the 50th anniversary of WJCT, the 25th for iconic local DJ Wes Reed and so much else. The same is true for Folio, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. This past July 8 marked the 25th anniversary of my own debut in this illustrious local rag, some seven editors and maybe a million words ago. A big chunk of that consists of the column you’re reading right now. Aug. 18 marks exactly five years since the first installment was written.
What better way of celebrating the past than by looking ahead to the future, right? Sure, let’s go with that. This issue was published on Aug. 17, by which time early voting will have already begun in the state of Florida. The primary election transpires (and that seems like a perfect word for it) on Tuesday, Aug. 23; Democrats and Republicans will pick their nominees for a vast array of elected offices on the local and state levels. The general election happens on Nov. 6, and we’ll talk more about that in October, if you insist.
Today, let’s hone in and bone up (that sounds bad but it’s not) on the primary because that’s where the juiciest action takes place (that also sounds bad but it’s not). The implications are curious for cannabisseurs in Florida, for a variety of reasons. Nikki Fried has my full support, but to each their own. Personally, I think anyone who votes against her is a stone cold fool and a likely liability going forward, but as always, our system requires women to jump through extra hoops, but that’s a whole other discussion. (Also, vote for the millage rate increase!)
Assuming for a moment Fried runs the table, her ability to influence this matter is limited. Republicans are certain to retain control of the state legislature because Democrats essentially conceded that from the start. All 120 seats are up for grabs, but 30 seats feature candidates who are running unopposed, 25 of them being Republican. As governor, Fried would increase funding for the Office Of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), open up avenues to increase minority access to the industry, and maybe even torpedo the “vertical integration” model that has inhibited the growth of a market that, under Fried, would quickly enter the low ten figures, even if Congress and the White House maintain their current stance of abject cowardice on the issue.
The worst-case scenario, which I give about 50/50 odds to, is that DeSantis is reelected, and his party takes the commissioner of agriculture spot left behind by Fried. Given that medical marijuana has been her most noteworthy achievement and the base from which she’s challenging him now, DeSantis can serve his existential purpose of triggering liberals for sport, while also acting to preempt any challenge to his hand-picked successor (my money’s on Casey). That would cost Florida billions, but based on his treatment of Disney, he probably doesn’t care.
Instead, my vote goes to Ryan Morales, an activist and pro DJ who advocates for the full legalization of cannabis, but also proposes even further. He’s almost like a Libertarian, except he’s actually pleasant and not the least bit insufferable. Florida Dems have some of the most interesting candidates this year that I’ve seen anywhere—shout-out to folks like Angie Nixon, Val Demings and Aramis Ayala, all easy picks, in my view.
Probably my favorite Florida candidate of all, this year, is Rebekah Jones, who is not in my district but can still have my vote anyway. Not only is she whip-smart, fiercely charismatic and utterly, almost pathologically fearless, but she has the added advantage of running against, in my opinion, arguably the single-most despicable human being to ever hold political office in the state of Florida—Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01), the utter apogee of ass-clowns. If you know any of the 800,000-plus residents of Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa or Walton counties, please call them now and beg them, on my behalf, to give that trust-fund troglodyte the Ol’ Yeller treatment now, while his people still have some plausible deniability in court.