Black Farmers Association and Florida for Care Continue Fight for Inclusion of Minorities in SB 7066
SB 7066 is the low THC medical marijuana bill filed by Senator Bradley, R-District 7 which has a requirement that nurseries that have been in business for at least thirty years are the only ones that can apply for a license to grow and process the medicine. Earlier this week Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, who sponsored the amendment last year that allowed the requirements stated, “I thought the ones who’ve been here the longest should be the first in line”.
This requirement makes it impossible for black farmers to even apply for one in the five highly sought after license- However, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association is not going to sit idly by while this bill is pushed through committees.
Last week during the Health Policy Committee meeting members from the association stood lobbying against the requirement stating it’s injustices to not only the black farmer, but the small farmers in Florida. Howard Gunn, an Ocala farmer and President of the Florida Black Farmers Association said, “We basically would love to get into this business. We see the profitability. We think the black farmers can somehow make a better living”
An Amendment to SB 7066 has been filed that will change the requirement. The Amendment sponsored by Minority Leader, Senator Joyner of District 19, should it pass, will allow nurseries who have been in business for five consecutive years to apply for one of the highly sought after licenses.
Tomorrow the Rules Committee will meet and vote on the amendment to change the requirement from thirty years to five. Florida for Care is hopeful this egregious requirement will no longer exist. “When you see such a large group of people being marginalized, it’s much easier to understand the injustice of this rule”, said Dan Rogers, Director of Legislative Affairs, “and let’s face it, no one wants to be called racist. That’s what this requirement is. It is racist- it may not have been intentional- but there’s no denying the reality.”
The Black Farmers Agriculturalists Association is not going to rely on hope. They will be at the Rules Committee tomorrow morning to once again lobby for their right to apply for a license. “5 years will be a lot better than 30, but I have constituents with me that believe there should not be any restrictions.” Stated Howard Gunn. In regards to the overall satus of the bill he said, “We are hopeful the right decision will be made that will help all people and not just some people. We understand it’s been a long time coming for patients.”
“Florida for Care is about creating a free and robust market- passing this amendment will bring us closer to that goal.” said Ben Pollara, Executive Director of Florida for Care.