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The fastest growing sector in the United States job market isn’t technology or real estate. It’s marijuana.Christian Bax, former director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, sits down with SalterMitchell PR President Heidi Otway. In their conversation, they discuss the growth of Florida’s medical cannabis industry from zero patients to over 250,000 in two years, the takeaways that Florida can learn from other states and the future of the industry in the state.
If you enjoyed this interview, you might enjoy our episode with Devoted Health Market President Dariel Quintana.
Chris Cate: Welcome to the Fluent in Floridian podcast featuring the Sunshine State’s brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida and its millions of weekly visitors. In this episode created by SalterMitchell PR. Our executive producer Heidi Otway, the president of SalterMitchell PR, talks to Christian Bax, the former director of Florida’s office of medical marijuana use.
Heidi Otway: Christian Bax served as Florida’s chief medical marijuana director at the Florida Department of Health after voters overwhelmingly made pot legal for medicinal use in the Sunshine State. After three years, he resigned from the embattled position and now runs a consulting practice advising investors and businesses around the country on cannabis regulatory issues. Christian, thank you so much for joining us on the Fluent in Floridian podcast.
Christian Bax: My pleasure, thank you very much for having me.
Heidi Otway: When former Governor Rick Scott appointed you to be the director of the Office of Compassionate Use back in 2015, you weren’t the first. So, who came before you?
Christian Bax: That’s a really good question, it’s something that I don’t think gets talked about that much. The Office of Compassionate Use was created by statute back in 2014, and Senator Bradley, representative Gaetz passed the law that was for very low THC product to go out to patients with contractable epilepsy, cancer. At the time, the department’s first director was a woman by the name of Linda McMullen, who’s an attorney. But the next director after Linda McMullen was another attorney named Patricia Nelson, who came out of the governor’s office. Patty Nelson is largely credited with the amazing work that she did in order to create chapter 64.4 in the administrative code, which is more commonly known as the application rule that allowed for Florida’s, at the time, dispensing organizations to come and compete for licenses in the state.
Heidi Otway: Okay. As the director the Office of Compassionate Use, which is now known as the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, your every move was watched, unlike your predecessors. Your every move was watched and you had to go through a tumultuous process of implementing Amendment two, which was passed in 2016. What were some of the major hurdles you faced coming out the gate?
Christian Bax: There’s the usual things that people talk about. So, the fact that it was completely new in government, and so I came from the private sector into this job. It was very much like a startup, in the sense that everything was boot-strapped, we had a very small amount of employees, a low amount of resources. But there’s an inherent difficulty that doesn’t exist in private enterprise, which is inertia in government, which is creating something out of nothing. You have to make your own way, and there’s a lot of education that gets involved. Obviously not educating the legislators that had primacy on this issue, but there were a lot of people over at the Capital discussing what was going on in the field, talking to my colleagues at the Florida Department of Health and explaining to them what was happening, because this touched a lot of different areas. You’ve got CMS, you’ve got-
Heidi Otway: And CMS is Children’s Medical Services?
Christian Bax: Children’s Medical Services. We had people over there who do public health works with patients that this touched, such as people who were suffering from AIDS. Were heavily involved with our legal team, with people over there who handle our budget with HR, which we all had to work very, very closely together building a completely new program. Kind of touching on that, the resources, too is at the start, this is pretty widely covered but we had four FTEs. And at the time-
Heidi Otway: And that’s full-time employees, yeah?
Christian Bax: Full-time employees, yeah.
Heidi Otway: Full-time employees.
Christian Bax: It’s good you made me clarify that, right? When I took that job, there were a few different words that I learned that are very important in the state government program. One is FTEs. The other is budget authority, right? A lot of people don’t know that you could have money in account for your program. But unless the legislature’s explicitly authorized you to spend X amount of dollars on X project, you can’t touch it. So, hiring, getting the appropriate resources, getting authority to spend those resources. And then some of the bigger projects that we worked on. Our card program, medical marijuana use, registry staffing, the old and the new. Those were all pretty immense challenges at the time.
Heidi Otway: And your main job was to do what? I mean, you were number three, we have now this Office of Medical Marijuana Use, OMMU. What was your main charge from all the layers of leaders above you telling you what you needed to accomplish?
Christian Bax: The essential mandate was to license the growers, processors and dispensers, which were all part of vertical company. At the time were called dispensing organizations now are medical marijuana treatment centers. License those businesses, get that ball rolling. And then stand up something called the medical marijuana use registry, which is this enterprise level, Cloud-based system that is the spinal column for the whole medical marijuana industry. It’s the thing that doctors enter recommendations into, which then communicates to the department, helps patients apply for identification cards. Then ultimately transfers the information from the doctor about what they want for their patients to the MMTCs, and it becomes part of the MMTC’s point of sale system.
Heidi Otway: Right. And the MMTCs are the medical marijuana treatment centers?
Christian Bax: Correct.
Heidi Otway: Did Florida look to any other states? Did you look to any other states to set up this office?
Christian Bax: Yes. So, there’s two different layers on analysis right there for what Florida looked to in other states. I can’t really speak to what the legislature looked at when they created the statutory bedrock of that program, right? I can say that there were certainly other states that look like how Florida looks now, say like Hawaii, New York, Colorado started with its medical marijuana program as a vertical structure. If you’re not familiar with that, what vertical means is that, a company is licensed in Florida to do everything, and they must do everything. So they must cultivate, they must process what they cultivate, and then they must sell what they process. They’re not allowed to buy from each other unless there’s some kind of an emergency, like all of their plants die, right?
Heidi Otway: Wow.
Christian Bax: What a lot of people are familiar with in these other states is, people can operate different parts of the supply chain. So, you can have people who are just growers, people who just sell at a dispensary, whereas all of that is covered by the individual licensed businesses in Florida. One of the first things that I did, along with my deputy when we got our jobs was, we flew to Colorado and we met for a week with all of the regulators out in Colorado to climb the learning curve and learn as much as we could. We also went out to Oakland and we got some hands-on training as far as what we needed to know about regulating cultivation facilities and processing facilities. Then we had a lot of conversations with regulators in other states about what was working, what wasn’t working, and trying to bring some of that knowledge to Florida, as much as we could.
Heidi Otway: Did you all expect, did you or the legislator expect such a demand for medical marijuana from Floridians once the office and registry was open?
Christian Bax: Oh, yeah.
Heidi Otway: Yeah?
Christian Bax: Oh, yeah. I mean, that was one of the things that really motivated us early on. I think that a lot of people saw the initial legislation, which was for low THC when actually, the qualifying conditions were such a small group of patients, it was easy to discount that program. But the people who were working inside of it, we knew that this was just the beginning. That Florida would eventually mirror a lot of medical marijuana programs in other states, right? I mean from our projections very early on, we knew that this thing was going to get really, really big.
Heidi Otway: Right. So, you were there in that position for three years. Where is it now compared to where it was when you first started?
Christian Bax: Of course, we started with zeroes all across the board. Zero patients, zero dispensaries, zero MMTCs. Today, we have over 250,000 qualified patients in the state. Of those, about 195,000 have cards, are active patients. We have 2,100 physicians that are actively recommending in the state, and then the big number here is that we’ve, as a state, we’ve seen 24 million milligrams of THC dispensed just last week.
Heidi Otway: Wow.
Christian Bax: To give you an idea of scale in Colorado, 10 milligrams is an adult service size. Last week, 65 million milligrams of THC were dispensed, that’s just a week. So, that’s coming from 108 dispensaries, and then of course every MMTC in the state can also dispense via delivery, so there’s this entire shipping and transportation infrastructure that has grown up around the state as well in order to support all of those delivery businesses.
Heidi Otway: Wow, wow. Our firm is working statewide to help educate the public on how to legally obtain medical marijuana. There seems to be some still confusion on how to do this, so for our listeners who are tuning in to learn more, what’s the process if someone wants to access legally medical marijuana in Florida?
Christian Bax: I think that’s a really wonderful mission. Something that I talked a lot with my colleagues is, we call it the Walmart test, which is if you walk into Walmart and you said how can you obtain medical marijuana or do you know that we have a program? How many of those people can actually know that you have a program and know that you can … how to obtain it. I think we’re getting better at that as a state, but we’re certainly not where we need to be at this point. So if you’re a patient, you have a medical condition obviously, because this is a medicine. If you have some kind of debilitating condition, you go to your doctor. Your doctor has to say yes, indeed, you sir or you madam have a qualifying condition. Not only a condition, you have to have one of the listens conditions.
Heidi Otway: Right, right.
Christian Bax: Or what you have has to be similar or comparable to one of those listed conditions. Okay. So, doctor signs off you have a qualifying condition. That doctor will then create a profile for you in the Cloud-based registry, the medical marijuana use registry.
Heidi Otway: And that’s under the Florida Department of Health?
Christian Bax: Correct.
Heidi Otway: Right, okay.
Christian Bax: Say I’m the patient. They’ll say, “Okay, Christian Bax, I want you to have this many milligrams per dose. I want you to take it this many times per day, and that’s going to be an aggregate over 70 days of this many milligrams of product.”
Heidi Otway: That sounds like a regular prescription you’d get from any other doctor.
Christian Bax: It does. What’s important is that, the line that Florida has had to very carefully walk, is that prescriptions have a very important legal meaning, right? And because it’s federally illegal, doctors can’t prescribe a schedule 1 substance for medical marijuana. So, we have to call it as a state a recommendation or an order, so if a doctor certifies you and then recommends that you take this marijuana. But they’re not actually prescribing you.
Heidi Otway: That’s a really interesting point. Yeah, okay. So, now that you’ve been recommended-
Christian Bax: Then it’s completely portable. I can go to any MMTC in the state and fill as many milligrams as I’ve been recommended up to that cap, and that cap, I’m zeroed out until I can come back after that 70-day period and get another recommendation. Similar to how a prescription works. If I’m a patient, I can go to one of the 108 dispensaries around the state, or I can have a MMTC deliver to me the type of product that my doctor has recommended me to take.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Thank you for sharing that, because we’ve been hearing it, even in our research and focus groups that folks are still unclear on how to obtain it.
Christian Bax: When they’re unclear, what are they unclear about? Where are the real sticking points right now?
Heidi Otway: Step one.
Christian Bax: Step one, just where do you start?
Heidi Otway: Where do you start? Literally, it’s step one, and then the ones who actually have a legal card and they’re in the registry, when you ask them they say, “Well, we went through several steps.” But not knowing that oh yeah, it did start with my doctor or yeah, I went and got a registry. It was just a lot of confusion around that.
Christian Bax: Right. I think what’s interesting is, I was the director, but I was also a real person living my life out in the world. I would have people in my personal life who would be affected by a debilitating condition or whose mom had a debilitating, or whose wife had a debilitating condition. That would be nine times out of ten what they would call me for, which would be, “Where do I start and what do I do?” So, if you have that problem at home, go to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use’s website, office of Medical Marijuana Use. And you click on the patient tab and you will be able to find, based on where you live, one of the 2,100 doctors in the state who can see you.
Now, you can’t do telemedicine now, so you’re actually going to need to physically go to a physician for this recommendation. But that’s one of the things that the department has really excelled at, especially in the last year and a half, is its online footprint is really, really good. Really user-friendly now. So, if you are interested in the program, you got to spend 15, 20 minutes on that website. You just have more information than you know what to do with about the program.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Switching to the next four to five years of medical marijuana and cannabis in Florida. Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried just created the Director of Cannabis under her department. How is this different from the position that you held at the Department of Health?
Christian Bax: I think probably just in the spheres of authority that they have. Under the constitution and under the implementing statute, which was 381.986 Florida Statutes, the authority over the key elements of the medical marijuana program, specifically the licensed businesses inspecting and insuring compliance of those businesses. The medical marijuana use registry, patient certification, those are all directly under the authority of the Florida Department of Health, so that’s all managed by director Coppola at the office of Medical Marijuana Use. Now, there’s some overlapping authority over, say like edibles. Every facility in the state that will manufacture edibles has to be Chapter 500 compliant. Chapter 500 is under the authority of DACS, and so DACS is moving forward with rule-making right now to allow for … to create the rules to comply with Chapter 500 for edibles facilities.
DACS is going to be very, very important on hemp and CBD, especially because the legislature seems to indicate that if and when they create a hemp program, it’ll be regulated like an agricultural crop, which is squared in under the authority of DACS. I think it’s awesome what Commissioner Fried did, creating a position to focus on cannabis. I think that probably a similar position should be created in DBPR, and I think any agency that touches this is really going to want to focus on it over the next couple years. As close to leadership as you can get in order to make sure that each agency is covering their bases and collaborating with the Department of Health of making sure that all the boxes are checked.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. And they should be doing this now versus waiting until … we don’t know what’s going to happen with recreational use in Florida. We know we have legislation right now. What are your thoughts on that happening in Florida?
Christian Bax: Well, I mean-
Heidi Otway: Based on your work around the country and having been in the industry for a number of years?
Christian Bax: I think the first thing you said is really important, which is that the best thing any agency or any municipal government, law enforcement, any administrative or bureaucratic entity in Florida should be prepping now and should be paying attention to this issue. Now, they should have been paying attention in 2015, but if they’re just now arriving at the party, that’s still fine. Getting all your ducks in a row now, because this is going to get nothing but bigger and more impactful and more important to understand when it’s moved forward. The other side is, there are a lot of opinions on Florida and what’ll happen with adult use in Florida, right?
Heidi Otway: Right, right.
Christian Bax: There’s three ways that it happens in the state. One is that, the federal government de-schedules or reschedules.
Heidi Otway: What does that mean?
Christian Bax: Marijuana is defined by the controlled substance act as a schedule 1 substance. A schedule 1 substance is, by definition, a drug that has no medicinal value and a high propensity for abuse, right? It’s dangerous and has no medical value at all, so we’re talking like meth. To reschedule would be to move marijuana into a different class of drugs that accept some medical use and allows for some medical application. Whether it’s classified like an opioid or like Tylenol, moving it out of the schedule 1 would be very important as a medical product, right? Or you could completely de-schedule, which is, you take it out of that list, and now it becomes … it’s under the FDA under a completely different scope. It could be a nutritional supplement, it could be similar to alcohol as something that is an intoxicant, but it’s included in consumer product goods. That’s the first thing, is if the federal government changes its position. It’s just not federally illegal period, right?
Heidi Otway: Right.
Christian Bax: If they don’t, then the only two ways it would become legal in Florida is if the legislature, the House and the Senate pass a law that says, “Marijuana is now legal for recreational use.” Or if we’re able to do similar to what John Morgan for United for Care did in 2016, which is by referendum, change the constitution to allow for adult use.
Heidi Otway: Right. Now, have other states taken the approach that Florida has with the constitutional amendment?
Christian Bax: Yes, and that’s typically how medical marijuana has been introduced in other states, and how recreational or adult use happens in other states is it typically happens through the referendum process.
Heidi Otway: Okay, so the will of the voters?
Christian Bax: Correct.
Heidi Otway: Okay.
Christian Bax: Correct. Now, passing constitutional amendment is really hard. It’s very expensive, it takes around 800,000 signatures and it has to be spread out among the congressional districts in Florida. You have to have a small army out there collecting petitions, and there is a group right now called Regulate Florida that is attempting to do that, get a referendum on the 2020 ballot. We’ll see how it does.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Where do you see the future of this going? I was reading an article the other day that said the fastest growing industry in America is not the tech industry. It’s the cannabis industry. And I said perfect timing, because we’re getting ready to interview you, Christian Bax.
Christian Bax: Right. It’s extremely hot, right? One, because it’s new. When you go from zero to anything, that measurement of growth is going to be off the charts. Both cannabis and CBD, which, from hemp, are exploding right now. For people out there who are entering the job market, it’s fascinating because you have a lot of young people who are coming out of college and looking for where the growth industries are. If you don’t know how to code, you don’t want to move to Silicon Valley, you’re not a finance guru and you don’t want to go into banking, there’s a lot of growth, a lot of money, a lot of opportunities in cannabis. I think a lot of people who, having been there, I’m still relatively young, having been there myself, cannabis is extremely is appealing.
Because I think everyone when they start, nobody wants to start a job and say, “I’m going to be in middle management for the rest of my life.” Or, “I’m going to go do this thing. Basically I’m going to go ahead and understand that my upward mobility’s going to be limited.” You look at this industry that nobody really knows for sure how big this can get. It’s very, very interesting to go ahead and commit to a few years of your life to see how far you can take it, how far you can take your career. That’s kind of a microcosm for how everybody uses that. I mean, you have people who are worth $100 million or more and are looking for opportunities to deploy their capital. If you’re not risk averse, cannabis is a really interesting space.
Because of federal legalization, there’s all of these things that have to be the transportation company for cannabis, the tech companies for cannabis, the logistic companies for cannabis.
Heidi Otway: The PR firm for cannabis.
Christian Bax: Right. Exactly. Exactly. So, you have these niches that are common in all industries and they’re popping up. So it’s not just cannabis, it’s the ancillary services and businesses that touch cannabis. In the long term, artificial intelligence robots, I mean robotics, all of these things will probably in the grand scheme of humanity and a long enough term, probably they’ll be more important than cannabis. But if you’re someone looking at the landscape in North America right now and you say, “Where is my time best spent in growing professionally?” Or, “Where can I get the best bang for my buck in investing in emerging industries that you can understand?” Cannabis checks a lot of those boxes.
Heidi Otway: That’s a really interesting perspective. We were thinking more along the lines of asking you about the economic impacts to agriculture and tourism. But here, it could be job creation and entrepreneurship.
Christian Bax: Right. I think it’s important the agricultural thing I think ties in with that. Cannabis is an opportunity, cannabis is not a guarantee that you’re going to be successful, right? I go to a lot of conferences on these issues, and it’s interesting to see how the hive mind and the general themes of these conferences and the people speaking at them, what they say. Two or three years ago, it was this blue sky, who knows how big this thing can get, this is exploding, get in now while you can. You go to conferences now in 2019 and you talk a lot about mergers and acquisitions. You talk a lot about creating niche brands and products to break through the noise and be relevant. And you talk a lot about commoditization. We’ve seen in West Coast states, specifically Oregon where the bottom has fallen out of the pricing for some of these products. So the economic realities that touch every industry are coming home to hit cannabis right now.
That applies to agriculture in the sense that there’s a lot of discussion about CBD and hemp, right? Senator Bradley has been, early in the session has already made a very valid point, which is that Florida agriculture is extremely important to the state. You have the citrus industries struggling a bit, and that hemp provides an opportunity for Floridians to cultivate this cash crop that’s going to be valuable on an international scale.
Heidi Otway: Right.
Christian Bax: What’s important to remember though, is that there are 49 other states that are thinking the same thing, right? 49 other agricultural infrastructures that are all looking to pivot into hemp and CBD. At some point, supply and demand will catch up. In the short term, I think it would be very beneficial for Florida, for agriculture. Then for tourism, if Florida legalized adult use today, the impact would be very large, because Florida is the only state in the southeast that has a legitimate medical marijuana program. So of course, if it had an adult use program, as far as tourism, we would attract a lot of visitors probably just on the adult use, similar to how Colorado experienced a boom in tourism.
But in the longer term, when you see other states around you start creating their own adult use, some of that tourism is defused, and it eventually will become something that you can do anywhere, just like you can drink alcohol, so there’s-
Heidi Otway: Anywhere, yeah.
Christian Bax: Exactly. There would certainly be pockets, kind of like Napa Valley exists in northern California, where you can get wine anywhere but it’s a special experience there. They’ll probably emerge in different pockets around the country, but we’ll see what the macroeconomic effect would be 10, 20 years from now if and when Florida ever legalizes adult use marijuana.
Heidi Otway: I can’t help but think of our listeners sitting there saying okay, we talked about the possibilities, the opportunities, and you’ve had the opportunity to travel to other states. What are the pitfalls? What are the pitfalls? What should we be paying attention to that could be not so good for the State of Florida and all of this?
Christian Bax: The first pitfall that Florida is going to try to avoid, because every other state that’s moved forward with adult use has tried to avoid, is youth use. Just like alcohol, as a state there’s a collected decision that over a certain age, you can make adult decisions and you’re free to move forward to consume adult use cannabis, right? The inverse of that is that if you’re below a certain age, the state does not want you to make that decision until you’re ready for it. Second thing is that, if the state decides to move forward with adult use, there’s going to be a lot more people who are going to take part in that, at least legally right out in the open.
What a lot of other adult use states have seen is obviously an increase in use. Anytime you use any drug at a greater scale, there are some people who can’t handle it, and so education and help for people who it’s a little too much for, that’s very important. Also, from a public health perspective is something that Florida will go through, every other state has gone through this, but there’s some immediate impacts of some of these products on some people who consume them. Every state has had their edible story, where people over-consume edibles, it’s their first experience or it’s new for them and they have a very rough time because they’ve consumed way more than they should be consuming, right?
Heidi Otway: Oh, my goodness. Yeah.
Christian Bax: So, public education about what they’re consuming, what the serving size are. That’s very important from an adult use state. So that would be something that Florida needs to embrace, if it goes forth with that program. Then the third thing is, I’m not sure it’s a negative ramification. It’s just something that Florida will have to deal with is that, less any other regulated industry, it’s going to have day to day impacts on local government, right? So, something that we need to take a very close look at is, if we move to adult use, the impacts on local government and making sure local government has the ability to create ordinances to roll out an adult use program in a way that makes sense for their community.
Also, that those local governments have the resources they need to be able to deal with a massive program that’s brand new. Because what you don’t want to see happen is what happened with the Florida Department of Health in 2015, where you’ve got one guy in Miami-Dade at the local level who’s dealing with this or in Arcadia or in Longboat Key or in Tallahassee. You want to make sure that all these municipalities are able to scale up and be able to regulate in a way that makes sense. Colorado’s done a really good job with this. If you go to the city of Denver, city of Denver has an extremely knowledgeable and professional team that regulate cannabis. All of their operators are operating the city, they have credibility when they need to go in and do an enforcement action.
So, being able to pivot as a state, where we move from this vertical medical program where a lot of stuff is preempted at the local level and it’s a very top-down approach in the Florida Department of Health, deploying its resources all across the state, we’re all going to have to lend a hand in order to effectively implement an adult use program. That would include local governments and giving them more freedom and resources to be able to make sure this program makes sense at the local level.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. It sounds exceptionally complex.
Christian Bax: But that’s why it’s so fascinating, right? THat’s why it’s such a-
Heidi Otway: Yeah, and it’s exceptionally complex.
Christian Bax: It’s such a cool thing to be involved with and to learn about, because there’s so many different angles that go into this industry right now.
Heidi Otway: Right. So, that brings us, that’s a great segue into what you’re doing now. Tell us a little bit about the work that you’re doing now, now that you’re no longer at the head of the position at Florida Department of Health.
Christian Bax: I’m an attorney, and I am of council with the Lockwood Law Firm. Lockwood Law Firm is an administrative law firm that’s based out of Tallahassee, it does a lot of cannabis parimutuel, some alcohol and beverage work as well. Through John Lockwood and the Lockwood firm, I get to do a lot of work with Florida MMTCs, so the businesses that are operating now. I also have a consulting company. I help cannabis companies and ancillary businesses in the other 49 deploy their resources, expand to do markets, understand regulatory law in the new markets that they’re entering. Then, to plug our new podcast, Tony Glover is another administrative lawyer in town and I have a podcast called Regulated, which we talk about cannabis and hemp and gambling, as well as alcohol and beverage stuff.
Heidi Otway: Yeah, yeah. I just listened to the first episode.
Christian Bax: Oh, nice. We’ve got better audio now, that was pretty bad audio in the first one. But we’re improving every day. You know how there’s some technical challenges.
Heidi Otway: It’s a process. So, I don’t know if our listeners know this, but you are a native Floridian. You grew up here in Tallahassee, is that correct?
Christian Bax: Yes, ma’am. I was born in Manatee Memorial Hospital, so I grew up in, when I was little I grew up in Longboat Key. We moved here when I was 16, my dad got another job up in Tallahassee. I went to Leon High School in Tallahassee, and yeah. I’m born and bred in Florida.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Well, you will have a probably easy time answering these questions that we ask all of our guests on the Fluent in Floridian podcast. The first question I want to ask you is, who is a Florida leader that you admire? This can be someone from history or someone active in their work right now.
Christian Bax: I really admired our last surgeon general, Dr. Celeste Philip. She was and she is, I mean she’s an incredible leader, she is brilliant and probably the best person I’ve ever worked for. I would say it was an honorable mention to the two major chiefs of staff I had, which were Cindy Dick and Alexis Lambert, who I worked for at the department who are all incredible women. Frankly, I think Governor DeSantis has been doing an amazing job as well, so I’m a big fan of his as well.
Heidi Otway: Great. What person, place or thing in Florida needs more attention than it’s currently getting?
Christian Bax: I think something we talked about earlier, which is the Florida agriculture. Which I think, again, the Walmart test. You walk in and you ask people about this. I’m not sure people understand how critical agriculture is to this state. And that specifically the citrus industry, which has been struggling over the past decade, is something that, as a state we have to make sure that Florida agriculture does well and thrives. It’s very important to this state. I’d say on a more micro-level, I don’t know if people understand how great scalloping is during the summertime up in north Florida. So, on a positive note, literally when I moved back from Boston, one of the top five reasons I wanted to move back to north Florida, because it’s basically an Easter egg hunt, where you’re just swimming. The one problem I have with scalloping is, sometimes I think of myself as the Easter egg and the bull sharks that are swimming around and actually the people [crosstalk 00:35:44].
Heidi Otway: Oh, boy. Okay. I went scalloping for the first time last year, and there were no bull sharks, because I would have gotten out of the water pretty quickly.
Christian Bax: Did you like it?
Heidi Otway: I loved it. I got one scallop and it was, like you said, an Easter egg hunt. I have this great photo of me coming out of the water holding my scallop.
Christian Bax: Yeah. The thing about scalloping is that you go out there and it’s like, you know that story that they say about asparagus? Which is if you eat uncooked asparagus, supposedly you burn more calories eating it than you do actually getting from the asparagus? That’s like scallops, only times 10, because by the time you drive down, you swim for eight hours, you get a bucketful of scallops and you go through three hours of cleaning them, you have like one handful of scallops.
Heidi Otway: Right. Exactly, exactly. All right, so what’s your favorite Florida location to visit?
Christian Bax: The Keys, definitely. I mean, it’s basically like being at Hawaii or at the Bahamas, but it’s still connected to Florida. You don’t have to get on a plane.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Well, it seems like you are probably a sports fan, so who’s your favorite sports team?
Christian Bax: Definitely the Seminoles, and I would say that that took a little while, because I went to the University of Alabama for my undergrad. But, there’s something to be said for when your hometown team, when it wins, it makes all the people you love happy. Eventually you come around and you want them to win.
Heidi Otway: Great.
Christian Bax: So, I’m a Nole officially now.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Well Christian, thank you so much for being a guest on our podcast. We really appreciate all the insight that you provided on Florida’s growing medical marijuana industry. We appreciate it.
Christian Bax: My pleasure.
Heidi Otway: Thank you.
Christian Bax: Thank you for having me.
Chris Cate: Thanks for listening to the Fluent in Floridian podcast. This show is executive produced by April Salter with additional support provided by Heidi Otway and the team at Salter Mitchell PR. If you need help telling your Florida story, SalterMitchell PR has you covered by offering issues management, priceless communications, social media, advocacy, and media relations assistance. You can learn more about SalterMitchell PR at saltermitchellpr.com. You can also learn more about the Fluent in Floridian podcast and listen to every episode of the show at fluentinfloridian.com, or by searching for the show using your favorite podcast app. Have a great day.
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