One-on-one with Ryan Morales: His take on recreational marijuana, gun policies

Florida Democrats hold one statewide office – the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Now, Commissioner Nikki Fried is leaving that office to run for governor.

Fried’s decision to not seek re-election sets up an open seat, with two Republicans and three Democrats all vying for the job.

FOX 13's interview with Democratic candidate Ryan Morales, began with the issue of recreational marijuana. 

Recreational Marijuana and Magic Mushrooms

Morales favors legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Florida, as well as psychedelic medicine commonly known as magic mushrooms. 

"Really, the mushroom fight is a new fight," Morales said. "It's something that has been brought to my attention by veterans themselves, because they see the fact that we're able to cure people with opioid addictions much faster than with anything else."

Clean Water

Morales advocates for conversion of residential lawns to gardens. When asked if he would support additional restrictions or a ban on residential use of fertilizer on lawns to prevent the nutrient runoff, Morales said that’s not his focus. 

"We're looking at actually helping educate people on how to actually properly fertilize because it's not about removing fertilization, it's about using the right amount because anything more than that is basically money down the drain," he said.  

Campaign Challenges

Morales has incurred audit letters for submitting incomplete campaign finance records to the state. He said that was due to mostly running the campaign himself, that he has taken corrective action. 

His fundraising is in line with other Democratic candidates in the race, but significantly trails Republican front-runner Simpson. Morales said he will receive the support he needs in November if he secures the Democratic nomination. 

"Well, sadly in politics at the primaries, what holds up a lot of the fundraising, because people are not sure where to put their money yet," Morales said. "We know that once we get past this primary, we will see the money that we need… We're basically just moving along, chugging along, making sure that we get past this primary. So that way we can actually get the help that we need because we know it's there."

Gun Policy

Morales calls for an expansion of gun background checks and other restrictions and said he would press for improved education for Florida gun owners. 

"It's not really about restrictions, but more about educating," Morales said. "I want to further educate people and make sure that people are responsible gun owners. I asked for the addition of social media checks and the next of kin and spousal approval, which is done in many other states, including places like Maine and Utah"

Citrus Greening and Invasive Snails

Morales did not second-guess Florida’s approach to identifying and removing invasive species. He said if elected, he would focus on implementing new technologies to address the current threats. 

"There is technology available now to help us with this," he noted. "Dogs are really good at helping sniff out some of these animals, so look forward to actually using more things like that… You've got so many people flying in on a daily basis, you can't catch everything. And you know what? You've got to commend the people that do work at the airports because they do a really good job of doing the best that they can. We have the top gear over there to scan for this stuff, but you're going to get something that's going to slip through once in a blue moon."