Florida now officially has a director of cannabis

Holly Bell appointed to new role

Holly Bell, center, next to Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time ever, Florida has a director of cannabis who will oversee the state's rules and vision for medical marijuana.

On Wednesday, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried appointed Holly Bell to the role. Fried said this appointment is just part of a new chapter for the state. 

“Cannabis is an incredible opportunity for our state, which is why I’ve appointed a cannabis director to oversee this top priority going forward. Holly was instrumental in helping start up Tennessee’s industrial hemp program, where she heard from farmers who needed an alternative for the future," Fried said. "She brought people together to make that vision a reality, and she’ll do the same here in Florida. Holly’s experience in finance and knowledge of managing programs make her a bold choice – and the right choice – to help build the future of cannabis in Florida.”

As the director of cannabis, Bell will help develop new rules for medical marijuana use and sale, work with scientific experts and team up with the Division of Plant Industry to develop Florida's hemp industry, which includes developing methods for producing, processing, inspecting and manufacturing industrial hemp.

Part of her job will be to monitor the Florida Department of Health's medical marijuana actions and implement edible rules with the Division of Food Safety.

Bell has consulted on cannabis business issues in several states and helped build the infrastructure for the cannabis industry in Tennessee.

“I’m grateful to Commissioner Fried for the opportunity to help literally grow Florida’s future,” Bell said. “After 80 years of stalled progress, we can finally begin putting cannabis to work, and realize its full potential for farmers, consumers and patients here in Florida. That’s exactly what I did in Tennessee – bringing together farmers, investors and government to help build an infrastructure to prepare for that state’s hemp bill and cannabis industry, and drive their economy.”

Fried said the medical marijuana industry is expected to have a $1.6 billion economic impact on Florida and create more jobs that manufacturing by 2020.