Twelve Black farmers are competing in Florida for a single medical cannabis license that is a guaranteed game-changer. The license could potentially be worth $50 million, according to The Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
Florida voters in 2016 and 2017 voted affirmatively for an amendment to Florida’s constitution that led to the legalization of medical cannabis in the Sunshine State. A year later there was an amendment to include a provision specifically for a Black farmer, as none could meet the eligibility requirement in earlier bids to obtain licenses.
Per The Miami Herald, one of the license applicants must be part of the Pigford cases, the Black farmers who sued the federal government in 1997 alleging that they’d been discriminated against in gaining access to loans, debt restructuring and other aid provided to white farmers.
Many of the farmers who had previously sued Florida’s government have died or are aged. Which makes it difficult for Black farmers to secure the license. “The task is daunting, to say the least, and that was really obvious in some of the responses, in my opinion,” Roz McCarthy, CEO and founder of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, told The Sentinel. “It took us six years to get to this point to see that, wow, well I know what you’re trying to do, but this really looks like it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.”
The Florida Department of Health charges just $146,000 to make a bid for a medical cannabis license. Applicants have also shared their stories of the challenges of farming in difficult and discriminatory conditions.
“In the 1800s my family suffered the abuses of slavery leaving a lasting reminder of the abuses handed down to us because of our race,” said applicant Fred Fisher, whose family worked the land in Jonesville, Florida, a Black farming community. “Those who spoke out against the abuses were lynched,” his affidavit read.
A total of 12 applicants have been named, with varying details redacted in an attempt to protect their privacy, notes FloridaPolitics.com.