TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Democratic candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana.
Synthetic Marijuana (Spice), Photo Date: 10/22/15 / Photo: DoD / (MGN)
“That has been my primary motivation for embarking on this campaign," said Fried.
Fried says that support resulted in her campaign's checking account with Wells Fargo being canceled.
“These actions by Wells Fargo are totally unprecedented and crystallize the reason why I chose to run for office," said Fried. "The failures of our laws, institutions, politicians to respect patients and doctors, the will of the voters.”
In an email exchange between a Wells Fargo representative and Fried’s team, the bank asked for Fried to clarify if she had or planned to receive any contributions from medical marijuana lobbyists.
Fried, a former lobbyist for the industry herself, confirmed and was notified her account would be closed.
Wells Fargo issued this statement regarding the closure of Fried’s account, “It is Wells Fargo's policy not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ. We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines."
While Fried says she was able to move her funds into a new account with BB&T, medical marijuana treatment centers and others who do business in the industry simply don’t have that option.
“Their accounts are no longer accepted. They're being put on notice and so a safe compliant banking system is needed," said Taylor Beihl with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.
A west coast bank called GRN Funds is looking to fill the vacancy.
Fried says if elected, she's interested in the possibility of helping the bank move in.
“I will certainly have a conversation with them and see what I can do to get them access here," said Fried.
Fried says while she can’t say for sure if Wells Fargo acted illegally, her team will be looking into the matter and may take legal action if they deem it necessary.