It’s been a long four years for Florida’s Black farmers.
In 2017, the Legislature passed a law that created the modern Florida medical marijuana industry. It set steep barriers to entry. It limited the number of licenses the state could award to companies. By no later than Oct. 3 of that year, a new marijuana license was to be given to a business owner belonging to a “Pigford Class” — one of two groups of Black farmers who had won a judgment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for that agency’s history of racial discrimination.
One full presidential term later, no such cannabis license has been awarded.
During a hearing with state senators on Thursday, the director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, Christopher Ferguson, said developing regulations for the Pigford license is a priority for his office. Ferguson, who works under the Department of Health, said the rules would be ready in “the coming weeks.”
But for the Black farmers in Florida, many questions remain. A potential Black-owned cannabis business would start its operations at least five years behind the first Florida dispensaries. How would that business catch up? Much of the urban retail space available for dispensaries has already been plucked up by Florida’s early operators, some of which now number among the largest cannabis companies in the world. [Read More @ The Miami Herald]
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