Florida Starts Issuing Medical Marijuana Licenses To Black Businesses Six Years After State Voters Approved Medical Cannabis

By greatbritton


Florida has started issuing business licenses to Black-owned businesses in the state to grow and sell medical marijuana. Florida Politics reported the state Department of Health’s (DoH) Office of Medical Marijuana has issued its first business license for medical marijuana to Black-owned businesses. This comes six years after state voters approved a ballot measure.

Terry Gwinn the first Black man to receive a license, he was among the first 12 people to apply for a license earlier this year. According to the media outlet, Gwinn is part of a group of Black farmers that filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for racial discrimination in farm loans in the 1980s and 1990s.

The group was known as the Pigford Class after the case Pigford v. Glickman, was set to receive a medical marijuana license after state voters passed a ballot measure. A lawsuit challenging the law going into affect delayed the process until last year.

“Mr. Gwinn is very pleased that his application was selected for licensure and is grateful for the hard work by the Florida Department of Health, Office of Medical Marijuana Use, to complete the review of the applications received. He looks forward to working with the office to complete the final steps to licensure,” Gwinn’s attorney, Jim McKee says in a statement according to the Orlando Sentinel.

69-year-old Gwinn and his brother Clifford have spent the last four decades growing watermelons, soybeans, peanuts, corn and peas on the Gwinn Brothers Farm, a 1,137-acre farm in McAlpin, Florida.

The decision to award Gwinn the license is to initiate legal challenges from those who lost out. The Sentinel reported the licenses have sold for more than $50 million and all but five of the 22 medical marijuana businesses operating in Florida were issued licenses after drawn-out legal challenges.

Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016 and the 2017 law included a provision requiring DoH officials to issue a license to a Black farmer because Black farmers couldn’t meet the eligibility requirements for a previous round of state licenses.

The requirements included a non-refundable $60,000 application fee and that the company had to be in operation for at least 30 years to receive a license. According to the DoH, as of Sept. 16, there were 21 licensed entities with 421 dispensing locations across Florida serving more than 750,000 patients.

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