Florida Passes Bill Requiring Medical Cannabis Licenses for Black Farmers

Florida lawmakers approved a bill requiring the state Department of Health to issue cannabis cultivation licenses to Black farmers who qualified for the licenses but were left out of the permitting process.

Full story after the jump.

Florida lawmakers have approved a bill that would require the state Department of Health to issue cannabis licenses to Black farmers who were qualified for the licenses but ultimately left out of the final awarding of the permits, WOKV reports. In October 2021, the state received 12 applications from Black farmers to grow medical cannabis, and in September officials awarded one license to Terry Gwinn but the license has not been finalized because of legal and administrative challenges. 

The measure would require the health department to issue the licenses to Black farmers whose applications did not have any identified deficiencies, regardless of what scores they received from the private contractors that evaluated the applications. It also would require the agency to award licenses to applicants whose applications were deemed to have met “all requirements for licensure” by an administrative law judge, and the bill would give those whose applications were found deficient a 90-day “cure” period to address the problems. 

Sen. Darryl Rouson (D) said Black farmers in the state faced discrimination from state and federal agriculture officials and “from societal and business norms that their counterparts did not have to deal with.” She said it is “shameful” that the licenses were not issued six years ago “when it was directed to be issued.”  

Jim McKee, an attorney who represents Gwinn, said the bill “will prevent any further delay” in allowing his client “to immediately move forward with licensed activities upon the bill becoming law.” 

The bill moves next to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who can either sign it or allow it to become law without his signature. 

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