Black farmers in Florida say wording in the state’s MMJ law excludes them from participating in the medical cannabis industry.
As currently enacted, the law requires growers to have been in business for 30 years or more and grow 400,000 or more plants — stipulations not met by a single black farmer in the state.
The Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association told the Senate Health Policy Committee this week that the reason no black farmers meet the requirement is due to discriminatory lending practices dating back decades. To support their claim, the group pointed to a class-action suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture originally filed in 1981 and settled in 2011.
Now, Florida’s new regulations on producing medical marijuana has reopened those old wounds, the growers’ group said. Under the law, cultivators would be allowed to grow and distribute a strain of cannabis high in CBDs to treat epilepsy, cancer and muscle spasms.
The laws are exclusionary not only to black farmers, but small farmers, and makes it possible that only the largest white- or Latino-owned farms will win the five licenses the state will award, the association said.