12 bid for Black farmer medical cannabis license in lucrative Florida market

Florida regulators received a dozen applications and some confusion over a lucrative vertically integrated medical cannabis license reserved for a Black farmer.

Applicants included Black farmers backed by investors with strong financial resources, according to documents posted recently on the Florida health department website.

The documents were heavily redacted, but the correspondence reflected confusion among some of the applicants about the process, including a requirement to be in business in the state for at least five years, according to the News Service of Florida.

The license was required under a 2017 law passed by the Florida Legislature and is connected to a 1981 discrimination case that found Black farmers in the state were discriminated against by federal officials.

The law specifically requires Florida marijuana regulators to grant a license to an applicant who is a recognized class member in the so-called “Pigford” class-action lawsuit.

The license carries a controversial $146,000 fee.

Roz McCarthy, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Minorities for Medical Marijuana, said her organization held boot camps for potential applicants but acknowledged the process still was confusing to some.

“The task is daunting, to say the least, and that was really obvious in some of the (application) responses, in my opinion,” she told The News Service of Florida.

“It took us six years to get to this point to see that, wow, well I know what you’re trying to do, but this really looks like it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.”

McCarthy is one of a number of investors identified in one of the applications.

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Regulators are in the process of going through the applications.

The 2022 MJBizFactbook projects that Florida’s medical marijuana market will generate $1.3 billion-$1.5 billion in sales this year.