Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has recently signed a groundbreaking legislation that aims to address the historical exclusion of Black farmers in the medical marijuana industry. The bill (HB 387), initially intended to facilitate telehealth methods for medical marijuana certifications, underwent crucial amendments during the legislative session. Senators Darryl Rouson (R) and Tracie Davis (D) added provisions to rectify the persistent issues surrounding the issuance of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses to Black farmers involved in the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit.
This new state law, which builds upon a constitutional measure on medical marijuana from 2016, addresses the problem by granting licenses to Black farmer applicants who meet specific criteria. These include having received a notice from the state Department of Health regarding approval or denial of their application, having successfully completed an administrative challenge process even if the applicant passed away during it, or having remedied deficiencies in their application as specified in the legislative language.
Senator Rouson expressed his satisfaction with the governor signing the bill, acknowledging that the licenses promised to Pigford farmers in 2016 had not been awarded until now. He emphasized the importance of rectifying this longstanding issue, expressing gratitude to President Kathleen Passidomo for supporting their persistent advocacy.
Senator Davis hailed the bill as an excellent example of bipartisan collaboration and problem-solving in the legislative process. She stated that the legislation represents a significant step forward in the years-long effort to provide Black farmers with opportunities in Florida's thriving medical marijuana industry. The bill's passage is seen as a victory for farmers, their families, and civil rights.
In addition to addressing the disparities faced by Black farmers, the bill also introduces a noteworthy change for medical marijuana patients in Florida. It allows them to access telehealth services, marking the first time such services are permitted in the state.
Representative Spencer Roach (R), who initially sponsored the medical marijuana telehealth bill in the House, expressed his pride in contributing to expanding patient access to medicine. He commended Governor DeSantis for his commitment to this cause and thanked Speaker Renner and President Passidomo for their open-mindedness and support, leading to this bipartisan victory.
Notably, the applicants for the Black farmer license were burdened with a significantly higher nonrefundable application fee compared to the initial applicants. This disparity was reported earlier this year, shedding light on the financial hurdles faced by these farmers.
The legislation represents a significant step forward in addressing the historical inequities faced by Black farmers in the medical marijuana industry in Florida. It endeavors to create a more inclusive and equitable landscape for all stakeholders involved.
By Bailey - your ganja mon