What They’re Saying: Florida’s First Cannabis Director


Feb 8, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla On Wednesday, Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried announced her appointment of Holly Bell as Florida’s first ever Cannabis Director. Bell’s selection comes after a national search and interviews with multiple finalists for the position. Following her selection, here are some of the reactions:

CBS4 Miami Agriculture Comm. Fried Appoints Holly Bell To Be New Cannabis Director

“Bell will handle both medical marijuana policies and those for hemp. Bell comes to Florida from Nashville, Tennessee where she helped start up their industrial hemp program. She has a degree in agricultural economics and years of experience in the finance and marijuana industries.”

News Service of Florida:  Florida’s 1st ‘director of cannabis’ named

“Fried, a Democrat elected in November who made increasing access to medical marijuana one of the cornerstones of her campaign, tapped Holly Bell, a former banker, to serve as director of cannabis…Fried said Bell will work with farmers and scientists to help develop Florida’s nascent hemp industry following the passage of a federal farm bill that broadly legalized hemp, a cannabis plant that does not contain euphoria-inducing THC. Also, Bell will monitor other state agencies’ activities regarding medical marijuana.”

WFSU:  New Cannabis Director To Regulate Hemp, CBD

“Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is tapping Nashville hemp consultant Holly Bell for the department’s cannabis director. Bell was instrumental in getting Tennessee’s hemp industry off the ground, and Fried hopes Bell can do the same in Florida.”

Click Orlando: Florida now officially has a director of cannabis

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

John Morgan, Founder Morgan & Morgan and Cannabis Advocate: “Appointment of Florida’s first Director of Cannabis @bell_hollybell3 is a big deal for patient access & expanding the #hemp industry.”

Eric Stevens, Director of Florida For Care: “Holly is uniquely qualified to help Florida build a united vision for hemp and move forward with the crop of the future which will be a large focus of this department. Holly’s 25-year career in banking and financial services allowed her to understand the business challenges faced by the cannabis and hemp industries.”

Joe Kirkpatrick, President, Tennessee Hemp Industries Association: “Tennessee farmers were suffering and looking for an alternative and we thought hemp could be an incredible opportunity to revitalize the agriculture industry, and be an overall economic boon to our state. Holly was pivotal to helping us build, organize, and implement our vision to make hemp a reality in Tennessee — her expertise in the financial aspects of cannabis, years of project management experience, and national ties to industry investors really made the difference.”

Michelle Weiner DO MPH, Pain Management Physician, Spine and Wellness Centers of America: “Commissioner Fried made the right choice with Holly Bell for Cannabis Director. Bell understands that cannabis is life-changing medicine for patients and that doctors must have the ability to recommend treatment in a manner that fits their needs. I’m thrilled to begin working together to ensure Florida is a leader in medical marijuana and our system increases patient access and cost-effectiveness, and respects the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.”

Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana: “Commissioner @NikkiFried’s choice of Holly Bell as Cannabis Director was bold! Holly helped make Tennessee’s #cannabis vision a reality she brought stakeholders together 2 build infrastructure ready for hemp FLORIDA has talent. We are ready to see activation.”

Jeffrey Sharkey, Managing Partner, Capitol Alliance Group: “Great Leadership on making sure Floridians have access to safe and affordable Cannabis. We support your appointment and look forward to working with Ms Bell and your team.”

The Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida: “We commend Commissioner Fried on her appointment!”

David Kotler, Cannabis Attorney: “As a former government employee and attorney working nationally in the cannabis industry, I have  an understanding of the long-term view necessary to get the industry up and running. Holly’s work history, multi-state experience, financial background, and relationships with industry stakeholders from markets that have been through the process before, make her a great choice to work with our experts and advocates here in Florida to craft a meaningful and efficient direction for Florida’s Cannabis Program.”

Robert Roundtree, Cannabis Entrepreneur and Advocate: “Robert Roundtree, a cannabis entrepreneur and founder of a medical marijuana educational website, said Fried made the right choice in picking a director who has a background in financial services and banking.”

Michael Bronstein, President, American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp: “We are proud of the steps that Agriculture Commissioner Niki Fried has taken to ensure that compassionate, patient-focused medical marijuana policies will help Floridians in need. We congratulate Cannabis Director Holly Bell on today’s appointment and value the leadership and expertise that Director Bell will bring to Florida’s medical marijuana and hemp program.”

Erik Knutson, CEO of Cancore Concepts, founder of Keef Cola and ATACH Board Member: “Florida has taken a large step forward today in upholding the will of the people, pushing to expand patient access, and ensuring Florida is a national leader on hemp.”