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Florida Will Not Meet The Deadline for Medical Marijuana Licenses

Maureen Meehan

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Florida Will Not Meet The Deadline for Medical Marijuana Licenses

According to reports, Florida will not meet the deadline for medical marijuana licenses. In light of this news, residents are becoming increasingly frustrated. Considering the constant delays and limitations of their state’s medical marijuana program, their feelings are justified.

After months of waiting, officials have announced that new medical marijuana growers will not be receiving their state-issued licenses to cultivate their crop. And therefore, they will not be able to sell it on time. 

Medical Marijuana in Florida

As outlined in an amendment passed earlier this summer, Florida health officials were supposed to distribute 10 medical marijuana licenses by Tuesday, October 3 to growers.

However, now it appears that they will have to wait. 

Christian Bax, executive director of Florida’s medical marijuana office, said the delay was due partly to Hurricane Irma. But it’s mostly due to a recently-filed lawsuit from a black farmer, which accused the state’s newest law on cannabis of being unconstitutional and “unfairly” narrow. 

The farmer in question is Columbus Smith. In the suit, he alleges that there are too many restrictions. Thus, only a few black farmers can qualify to get grow licenses.

In terms of Hurricane Irma, news reports following the devastating storm indicated that the weed industry had remained mostly intact.

Blaming The Victim

In a letter sent to state lawmakers, per the Sunshine State News, Bax implied that Smith’s lawsuit was the reason as to why Florida will not meet the deadline for medical marijuana licenses.

After voters passed Amendment 2 last fall, there was a great deal of concern over whether it would actually give potential growers a fair and equal shot at the license slots. 

“It’s not just unlikely, it is literally impossible,” said Ben Pollara, a medical marijuana advocate and campaign manager for United For Care, referring to the October 3 deadline.

Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

One of the key components of the new law holds that one of the 10 licenses to grow medical marijuana would go to a black farmer. But that they must already be part of the 30-year-old class action lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture known as Pigford v. Glickman.

Why? Great question.

The lawsuit alleges racial discrimination against African American farmers in its allocation of farm loans and assistance, as well as the imposition of unfair land taxes between the years 1981 and 1996.

Again, we have to ask the question: Why must a current applicant for a medical marijuana license be a participant in this 30-year-old lawsuit?

Final Hit: Florida Will Not Meet The Deadline for Medical Marijuana Licenses

Here’s a fun fact for you to help put this issue into perspective. The state of Florida has a population of 20 million. Of these 20 million Floridians, 77 percent are white and 17 percent are African American. So how did state officials decide to make just one out of 10 licenses available to black applicants? And more importantly, why?

Apparently exactly who qualifies for a license to grow has been a mystery for some time now, as Florida attempts to even the playing field for farmers of color.

Sadly, institutional racism seems to be rearing its ugly head in Florida’s already overwrought medical marijuana rollout. As of now, there is no new deadline for the licenses.  We will, however, keep you all updated with any and all developments. So stay tuned.

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