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Black farmers get priority as Florida prepares to issue new medical marijuana licenses

A Black farmer with ties to doing business in Florida will be at the head of the line for a long-awaited batch of medical-marijuana licenses in an application process that state health officials will launch soon, senior aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

The aides told The News Service of Florida that the Department of Health will kick off the rulemaking process for Black farmer applicants within “weeks to months” and set the stage for another set of licenses that would nearly double the number of medical marijuana operators in the state.

“It would be awesome if we could get that application, get that license. We are definitely overdue as it relates to that,” Ocala nursery operator Howard Gunn, who is Black, said in a phone interview.

State health officials are poised to begin the application process following a highly anticipated Florida Supreme Court ruling last month that upheld a 2017 law carrying out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The court upheld a requirement in the law that medical marijuana operators handle all aspects of the business, including cultivation, processing and distributing — as opposed to companies being able to focus on individual aspects. Tampa-based Florigrown LLC, which challenged the law, had until June 11 to ask for a rehearing but did not. [Read More @ The Miami Herald]

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