Florida yet to license Black medical cannabis cultivator

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Florida’s medical cannabis program still hasn’t issued an MMJ cultivation license to a Black farmer, even though lawmakers reserved a license for one when the MMJ legalization law was passed in 2017.

Lawmakers recently pressed the state health department about the issue, according to Jacksonville TV station WJXT.

State Sen. Darryl Rouson brought the MMJ regulatory agency before the Senate Agriculture Committee seeking an explanation for why the license hasn’t been issued when 22 others have.

The health department said a lawsuit challenging the state’s seed-to-sale tracking requirement for cannabis companies is causing the delay.

Three Florida cannabis companies control more than two-thirds of the market, with the top six accounting for nearly 90% of all sales.

So, even if a Black cultivator received a license tomorrow, it would be an uphill climb to compete with those established companies.

In 2018, the Florida Senate passed HB 6049, which removed the provision that a Black cultivator must be a member of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association to be eligible for the MMJ business license.

That was after the state Legislature mandated in 2017 that a new license be awarded to a member of the Pigford-versus-Glickman lawsuit after the federal government was found to have discriminated against Black farmers.

According to WJXT, Christopher Ferguson, director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, said the agency anticipates moving forward with the Pigford licensing process in the coming weeks.