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Black Farmer Sues To Block Florida From Issuing Set-Aside Medical Marijuana License

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
An African American farmer out of Panama City is suing the state to block the issuance of a medical marijuana license set aside for minorities on the grounds that a new law cut him out of the deal.

Columbus Smith, 80, says he can't bid on the Florida Department of Health's cultivation license reserved for members of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association because the private association won't allow new members to join. He says the association stopped accepting new members before the state even passed a new medical cannabis law in June implementing an expanded system.

"There is no rational basis for limiting the opportunity of Black Farmers to obtain a medical marijuana license to only the few members of that class of Black Farmers who are also members of a specific private association," Smith, represented by attorneys Sam Ard, Wilbur Brewton and Kelly Plante, states in his complaint.

Howard Gunn Jr., president of the farmers association, said he was not aware of the lawsuit and declined to discuss Smith's assertions.

The state's medical marijuana licenses grant farmers the valuable ability to cultivate and distribute marijuana to be processed into medicine. A new law passed in June required the state to issue 10 new licenses on top of the seven that, at the time, already existed. Recently, a license-holder out of Alachua sold the management rights to its business for $40 million.

The first licenses were issued in a method that effectively cut out black farmers. To address the problem lawmakers made sure to set aside one of their new licenses for farmers who participated in the Pigford v. Glickman case, a late 1990s class-action lawsuit that was settled between the USDA and black farmers who said they'd been discriminated against by the federal government.

Eligible bidders also had to be members of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association. But the association, according to Smith, has at most five members, and refuses to make its membership list public. Smith, whose lawsuit was first reported by Vegetable and Specialty Crop News, is asking the courts to overturn the portion of state law that requires a license to go to a member of the association, and in the meantime stop the state from issuing that license.

The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

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News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Black farmer sues to block state's issuance of medical marijuana license | Miami Herald
Author: David Smiley
Contact: Miami Newspaper Contact Us | Miami Herald
Photo Credit: Joe Rondone
Website: South Florida Breaking News, Sports & Crime | Miami Herald
 

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
Re: Black Farmer Sues To Block Florida From Issuing Set-Aside Medical Marijuana Licen

I'll preface this by stating that I hope Mr. Smith gets to grow cannabis. After all, I wish everyone had the (legal) right.

An African American farmer out of Panama City is suing the state to block the issuance of a medical marijuana license set aside for minorities on the grounds that a new law cut him out of the deal.

Ah, the sour grapes grounds, lol. He should have sued on the basis that any legislation that is targeted towards minorities is discriminatory - just as legislation that is targeted towards the majority is. But I suspect that would only address the relative unfairness of the thing (as opposed to getting this guy what HE wants :icon_roll ).

Columbus Smith, 80, says he can’t bid on the Florida Department of Health’s cultivation license reserved for members of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association because the private association won’t allow new members to join. He says the association stopped accepting new members before the state even passed a new medical cannabis law in June implementing an expanded system.

Again, this is preferential treatment of one group of people - and that's the definition of discrimination. That would be the case regardless of whether or not Mr. Smith was granted a license.

“There is no rational basis for limiting the opportunity of Black Farmers to obtain a medical marijuana license to only the few members of that class of Black Farmers who are also members of a specific private association,” Smith, represented by attorneys Sam Ard, Wilbur Brewton and Kelly Plante, states in his complaint.

Here, let me correct that statement for you ;) : “There is no rational basis for limiting the opportunity of anyone to obtain a medical marijuana license to only the few members of that class of Black Farmers who are also members of a specific private association,”

If a plaintiff uses discriminatory language in his/her complaint, does this invalidate said complaint? Just curious...

A new law passed in June required the state to issue 10 new licenses on top of the seven that, at the time, already existed. Recently, a license-holder out of Alachua sold the management rights to its business for $40 million.

What a way to make a quick (40 million) buck(s), LMFAO.

The first licenses were issued in a method that effectively cut out black farmers. To address the problem lawmakers made sure to set aside one of their new licenses for farmers who participated in the Pigford v. Glickman case, a late 1990s class-action lawsuit that was settled between the USDA and black farmers who said they’d been discriminated against by the federal government.

That lawsuit had nothing to do with cannabis. And while I'm still heavily opposed to legislation that gives preferential treatment to a race/sex/etc. (including my own!)... They have effectively limited the pool from which this last license could possibly go to... to five people? Pigford v. Glickman wasn't limited to the state of Florida, of course, so IDK how many of its participants are currently residents of Florida - but 13,348 claimants were approved in the initial case, and there was a later one (Pigford II) which may have had far more approved claimants. Additionally, "Native American" farmers had their own discrimination case against the USDA, and both Hispanic farmers and women farmers attempted, but were unable to get their class actions certified.

Oh, and as far as I know, Pigford v. Glickman is done and over with, and all (approved) claimants have been paid. There has been more than a hint of issues with Pigford v. Glickman and Pigford II, but it's technically history now. Therefore, aside from the whole discrimination thing... Well, it seems to me... If I sue you today, next week a judge finds in my favor and that results in you having to pay me $25,000 - and then ten years later, I go back and expect to receive your car (or house, a can of soup from your pantry, et cetera), too. It just doesn't make any sense (legally or otherwise), IMHO. Stuff like this (lawsuits) shouldn't result in perpetual payouts, FFS - and I guarantee that this cannabis cultivation license was NOT part of the settlement of either of those cases.

I think a government once did a thing that wasn't a complete clusterf*ck - but, since we as a species hadn't gotten around to inventing writing yet, lofl, I cannot find any evidence of it....
 
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