(Tallahassee/NSF) — Black farmers in Florida have waited more than four years to vie for a license to participate in the state’s lucrative medical-marijuana industry. But it’s still unknown exactly how much longer they’ll have to continue to bide their time. Under the state’s medical marijuana law, one license must go to a grower who had been part of settled lawsuits known as the “Pigford” cases, which addressed racial discrimination against Black farmers by federal officials.
The Senate Agriculture Committee ordered state Office of Medical Marijuana Use Director Chris Ferguson to appear before the committee Thursday to explain why, more than four years after Florida lawmakers ordered state health officials to grant a medical marijuana license to a Black farmer, they still haven’t been given the opportunity to compete in what is now a robust cannabis market.
Ferguson says ongoing litigation against the state is to blame, but the license will be coming soon.
“We are working quickly and anticipate moving forward with the Pigford MMTC licensing process in the coming weeks. That is a priority for the department to move forward.”
Following the meeting, Committee Chairman Darryl Rouson said he wasn’t quite satisfied with the timeframe given by the Department. He feels new applicants will face a disadvantage as they try to enter an established medical marijuana market.
“I don’t want anything done and just thrown out there, but I am hopeful that today sends a message and that they are working diligently and vigilantly on getting this license issued.”
Florida currently has 22 licensed operators, known as “medical marijuana treatment centers,” or “MMTCs,” that have more than 200 retail sites across the state.
(From The News Service of Florida)