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Black Farmer Sues State Over Medical Marijuana Licensing Rule

September 22nd, 2017 by Jake Stofan

The Florida Department of Health was sued Friday over who gets the Black Farmers medical marijuana vendors license.




82-year-old Colombus Smith, a Black Farmer from Panama City filed the suit.

Smith says he is being excluded from obtaining a license to grow medical marijuana because he is not a member of  Black Farmers Association, which by law is entitled to a license.

Smith alleges he is being excluded from the organization to lessen competition.

“They’re not allowing them to join the association,” said Taylor Biehl with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

The Medical Marijuana Business Association says it’s received similar complaints from other black farmers.


“In essence the association is discriminating against their own qualified candidates to clearly allow for less competition,” said Biehl.

The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter had no comment when asked about the lawsuit filed by Colombus Smith.

The suit was filed days after the Department of Health published a new application for marijuana licenses.

The Department is receiving flack from activists who say the DOH will miss it’s October 3rd deadline to approve five new vendors.


“We’re all bitting our nails here,” said Biehl.

The Legislature ordered more vendors to increase competition.

Medical marijuana isn’t covered by insurance, so patients have to pay out of pocket.

Any reduction in price makes a direct impact on the wallets of the more than 36,000 patients who have qualified for treatment.

“The more businesses that are out there competing with one another, the better it will be for the patient because that’s how Capitalism is supposed to work. More competition should drive down prices and improve quality,” said Medical Marijuana Lobbyist, Ron Watson.

If the DOH fails to meet the deadline, additional lawsuits from patients and potential vendors could be on the horizon.


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