TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Department of Health is under fire because it has still not issued a medical marijuana license to a Black farmer.
Lawmakers grilled the department to find out what is responsible for the delay on Thursday.
When the Legislature passed its medical marijuana law in 2017, one grower’s license was reserved for a Black farmer.
“So that the medical marijuana licenses in our state would have equity,” said state Sen. Darryl Rouson.
Rouson called the Department of Health before the Senate Agriculture Committee to explain why the Black farmer’s license isn’t among the 22 that have already been issued.
“Years have passed since this Legislature spoke,” said Rouson.
The department blamed the delay on a lawsuit challenging the state’s seed-to-sale requirement for license holders.
The state Supreme Court finally ruled in the state’s favor in May.
“We are working quickly and anticipate moving forward with the Pigford MMTC licensing process in the coming weeks,” said Christopher Ferguson, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
State Sen. Perry Thurston wasn’t satisfied with the excuse.
“The one entity that we designated to participate has been denied the ability to participate and the denial has nothing to do with them,” said Thurston.
Thurston and Rouson both said they worry that because of the delay, when a license is finally issued, the Black farmer who gets it will be starting off with a severe disadvantage.
“Talk about insult to injury,” said Thurston.
Rouson is hopeful the department will move hastily going forward.
“And we’re going to stay on top of this. I’m going to work with leadership to make sure this gets done,” said Rouson.
The department’s timeline of weeks to months is just to get an application process in place.
Nothing was mentioned about a timeline to actually get a license issued in Thursday’s meeting.
The department did tell lawmakers that the license meant for a Black farmer would be issued before the other 18 that are currently available.