Nearly every applicant who wasn’t selected for a medical cannabis cultivation license reserved for a Black farmer has filed a challenge to the Florida health department decision.
Terry Donnell Gwinn of McAlpin, Florida, on Sept. 21 was chosen from a field of 12 applicants for the license, which was set aside for Black farmers with links to a decadeslong federal litigation.
The petitions against the decision were first reported by WUSF Public Media.
The issue dates back to 1981, when farmers largely located in the South launched a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging lending and assistance discrimination.
The case, often referred to as the Pigford litigation, was settled for $1.3 billion in 2011.
The reasons for the challenges to Gwinn being awarded the license are varied, according to WUSF:
- In one instance, an 84-year-old applicant died before the license was awarded. His estate believes his application should have still been valid for his heirs. But the health department argued that a deceased person cannot be in the running for a license.
- In another, an applicant bought a majority interest in a business and support-services company in January. According to his lawyer, the applicant was told that because he wasn’t a sole proprietor, he wasn’t eligible for the license – even though he wouldn’t have been able to embark on the project without partners.
The complaints also were critical of a selection process in which applications were scored by accounting giant KPMG, WUSF reported.
The company earned $22,750 each for the 12 application evaluations.