Florida weed law cuts out black farmers

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Black farmers in Florida want the state to revise its existing medical marijuana law to provide them with better access to the market, FOX News reports.


The push to legalize medical weed in Florida failed last year, but the state's legislature did pass a law allowing the medical use of marijuana with low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive chemical in the drug.

The law is clearly written to give an advantage to well-established farmers: to participate in the program, growers must have a license to cultivate more than 400,000 plants and must have operated as a registered nursery in Florida "for at least 30 continuous years."

Howard Gunn, Jr., the president of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, told FOX News said the language of the measure excludes black growers.

"There weren't that many black farmers 30 years ago in the nursery business," he said. "We say they weren't there because of the discriminatory practices set by the USDA."

Black growers sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over access to farm loans in the 1980s and 1990s and eventually reached a controversial settlement that paid out $50,000 to individual farmers. The Obama administration allocated more than $1 billion toward the payments in 2010, although a report in The New York Times later uncovered evidence of fraud among the recipients.

The campaign to pass a robust medical marijuana law to Florida will likely continue this year, since the issue was very narrowly defeated in a ballot measure vote last November.


Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.