Don't expect to see lush fields of marijuana growing in Florida, the state's agriculture chief said Wednesday, even if the state's voters authorize medical marijuana in November.
"This is not a boon for Florida agriculture," Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. "There won't be fields of marijuana growing in Florida."
If it comes to the Sunshine State, he said marijuana growing will be indoors under controlled environments.
Putnam opposes the proposed constitutional amendment on medical marijuana on the Nov. 4 ballot, but acknowledged that polling shows passage is likely.
If that happens, he said he wants enough to avoid "a pot shop on every corner next to gymnastics studios and tae kwon do studios where our kids are."
The former Republican member of Congress and possible 2018 candidate for governor is seeking a second term as agriculture commissioner. He touched on wide range of topics in the interview:
• Lake Okeechobee. It's a political plus that the Army Corps of Engineers sees repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike as a top priority.
"As long as Lake Okeechobee is on the top 10 list of the worst dikes in America, it will be funded. The day that it becomes the 11th worst dike in America, the funding's going to dry up."
• Everglades. There's been too little consistency and follow-through in restoration projects.
Every new governor and every new president wants to launch a new project, which he said results in "an awful lot" of partially completed projects. "We've had a lot of groundbreakings but not a lot of ribbon-cuttings."
• Nuclear power. In his role as a member of the Florida Cabinet, Putnam voted in favor of a plan Tuesday for two new nuclear reactors at Florida Power & Light Co.'s Turkey Point station in Miami-Dade County.
Without nuclear power, Florida will be "virtually entirely dependent on natural gas." If a hurricane disrupts a transfer station on a gas pipeline "and it goes down for three days, we're in the dark. And that is a very vulnerable position to be in."
• Climate change. "We clearly are witnessing changes in climate," which Putnam said human activity has "probably" exacerbated. But he's not how much is "man versus some natural climactic cycle."
"In some ways there's an anti-science going on, which you know the people on the left would say that's absolutely right. Republicans are deniers. But I would say there's just as many examples on the other side where they don't want science to be the good guide to public policy."
He cited many leftists' opposition to genetically engineered food, which Putnam said is needed to feed the growing world population.
Video of Putnam assessing the governor's race at SunSentinel.com/BrowardPolitics.