Protecting Our Community

There are over 561,000 Medical Marijuana patients in the state.

Hemp is an Economic Opportunity

Unfair regulatory and financial burdens for farmers must be ended

Cannabis

We Can:

  • Increase The Number of Licenses To Grow

  • Increase Competition in the Market

  • Ensure That Barrier Of Entry Are Lowered

Cannabis policy is a topic that has continued to gain significance in recent years. It is both a legal and social problem that has developed unclear boundaries as marijuana becomes an effective tool medically and moves closer to being decriminalized for adult recreational use. Currently, the state of Florida has over 561,177 patients of medical marijuana as well as thousands of industrial uses for hemp, which demonstrates this emerging market’s ability to create many new economic opportunities. However, it is important to remember the disproportionate number of Black, Brown, and low-income individuals that remain incarcerated for minor cannabis offenses.[1] The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture can take necessary steps to address these inequities.

 

Marijuana Policy Keeps Hurting Minorities

Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes outlines the state’s policies on Cannabis and discusses the legalities of marijuana sale and consumption. Too often, White cannabis producers and consumers benefit from the current state-legal systems and gray areas of cannabis regulation while individuals in lower-income and minority communities continue suffering the consequences of the failed War on Drugs. This initiative led to the mass incarceration of many Americans without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations.[2] Felony convictions stemming from drug offenses can limit access to housing assistance, financial aid for higher education, job prospects, and more.[3] Many unconsidered consequences also include children growing up without role models and single, low-income mothers having to bear the burden of raising a family alone. Communities devastated by the War on Drugs continue to be affected by discriminatory enforcement practices as well as barriers to benefiting from the now-legal cannabis markets. [4]

 

Currently, Black farmers across Florida are experiencing discrimination in the form of financial and regulatory burdens issued by the Florida Department of Health. The emergency rule outlines the medical marijuana treatment center application process for Black farmers applying for licensure who are recognized class members of Pigford v. Glickman or In Re Black Farmers Litig. This emergency rule more than doubles the application fee and adds more extensive requirements for licensure in comparison to non-Pigford class applicants.[5]

 

While waiting for a new application process since the Florida Legislature inserted this addition to Florida’s medical marijuana law in 2017, there have been significant developments in the medical marijuana industry in the state. Black farmers have lost out on this time while waiting for their chance to apply and they now face significant barriers to enter the medical marijuana market due to it now being well established.[6]

 

This discriminatory rule, as well as other, more subtle forms of discrimination towards Black, Brown, and low-income individuals in Florida shows the marijuana industry’s need for reform.

 

[1]Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (2022, April 28). Commissioner Fried Announces Inaugural Cannabis Equity Summit to take place June 17th. Commissioner Fried Announces Inaugural Cannabis Equity Summit to Take Place June 17th / 2022 Press Releases / Press Releases / News & Events / Home - Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2022-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Fried-Announces-Inaugural-Cannabis-Equity-Summit-to-Take-Place-June-17th

[2]The Leadership Conference Education Fund. (2019, March 15). The 'war on drugs' has failed, Commission says. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://civilrights.org/edfund/resource/the-war-on-drugs-has-failed-commission-says/

[3] Ibid., 7

[4] Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (2022, April 28). Commissioner Fried Announces Inaugural Cannabis Equity Summit to take place June 17th. Commissioner Fried Announces Inaugural Cannabis Equity Summit to Take Place June 17th / 2022 Press Releases / Press Releases / News & Events / Home - Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2022-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Fried-Announces-Inaugural-Cannabis-Equity-Summit-to-Take-Place-June-17th

[5] Fried, N. (2021, October 20). Commissioner Nikki Fried calls for investigation into state discrimination against black farmers seeking medical marijuana licenses. Commissioner Nikki Fried Calls for Investigation into State Discrimination Against Black Farmers Seeking Medical Marijuana Licenses / 2021 Press Releases / Press Releases / News & Events / Home - Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2021-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Nikki-Fried-Calls-for-Investigation-into-State-Discrimination-Against-Black-Farmers-Seeking-Medical-Marijuana-Licenses

[6] Ibid., 8

Education

So, What Can We Do?!

Protecting Our Communities and Farmers

The Commissioner of Agriculture can work towards solving these inequities by investigating if the department, by its inquiry or as a result of complaints, has reason to believe that any violation of the laws relating to consumer protection has taken/is taking place. If the results of the investigation determine that there is reason to believe that a violation has occurred, the department with the coordination of the Department of Legal Affairs and any state attorney has the authority to bring an action following the provisions of chapter 501.[1]

 

The current Commissioner of Agriculture has called for an investigation and legal action is in the process of being taken. It is necessary that the new Commissioner finishes the fight against injustice and allows for the Floridians who were hurt most to benefit from the new cannabis industry.

 

[1] The 2021 Florida Statutes. Statutes & constitution :view statutes : Online sunshine. (2021, July). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599%2F0570%2F0570.html