On Dec. 29, 2017, a Florida judge ordered the state health department to halt the issuance of a medical marijuana cultivation license intended for a member of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
The court order is in response to a lawsuit filed by Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City, who claims that the license was unfairly distributed.
Under state law, health officials are required to issue at least one medical marijuana license to a farmer who had been part of a racial discrimination lawsuit known as the “Pigford Case” and was a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
Smith, who is not a member of the association, alleges in his suit that requiring applicants to belong to an organization or association violates that state constitution’s ban on “special laws.”
Although state health officials hope to have the lawsuit resolved by the summer, state Sen. Rob Bradley told the News Services of Florida that he intends on co-sponsoring legislation that would remove the membership requirement.
“It would open up that particular license to more competitors who meet the definition of being involved in that (Pigford) civil rights litigation. I think it would be in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida to have more competition for that license,” Bradley said.