BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Candidates running to be the next commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agricultural and Forestry (LDAF) met at a Press Club forum in Baton Rouge Monday, Sept. 9 to address key concerns before the Oct. 12 election.
Key topics included how to encourage young people to choose agricultural careers, marijuana legalization, medical marijuana regulations, climate change, and the current United States trade war.
Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain is running for another term and says he wants to see the results from more tests on the effects medical marijuana on the brain.
“I think we’re going to see medical marijuana be here moving forward and if our federal government is going to allow that, we really want to see what the scientific outcomes are going to be," Strain said.
Challenger, Marguerite Green, who is a farmer, says she wants marijuana legalized recreationally.
“In some parts of this country, people are making great wealth growing cannabis and here in Louisiana, we’re continuing to criminalize people for using small amounts of it," Green said.
Like Commissioner Strain, another challenger, tree-farmer, Peter Williams, says he wants to see more testing done too. But unlike Strain, he has strong opposing views on the trade war with China.
“Right now, we’re having a man-made disaster because of what’s happened with the trade wars because of what’s happened in Washington, D.C.,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, we have no one in position now that’s going to challenge the powers that be for our farmers that are suffering.”
Commissioner Strain points to his previous trade experience on national committees as a platform. Green says she wants to help farmers adapt, whether there’s a trade war or not.
“I’m more interested in helping farmers diversify the crops they grow and have resiliency against future trade wars," she said.