Florida's first Black medical marijuana farmer has to pay over $100K for license

Five years after the state of Florida legalized medical marijuana, the state announced an "emergency rule" that sets aside one medical marijuana license specifically for a Black farmer, the Miami New Times reports.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner and former marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried said the new rule will "more than double fees ONLY for Black farmers applying for medical marijuana licenses."

"This new rule is discriminatory and disgusting and needs to be revised immediately," Fried tweeted.

According to the new law, only 23 licenses can be issued and one of those will be set aside for a Black person. But as the New Times points out, it's intended for just any Black person.

"Only recognized class members of Pigford v. Glickman, a 1997 federal class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were eligible to apply. The so-called Pigford Class consists of more than 15,000 Black farmers across the nation who were covered in a 1999 consent decree that netted them an average of about $50,000 apiece," the New Times reports. "More than $1 billion has been paid out since the suit was adjudicated, ranking among the largest civil-rights settlements in the history of the American judicial system."

Last week, eligible Black farmers in Florida learned that it would cost them $146,000 apiece to apply.

"We look forward to seeing more progress being made in the near future," Florida Rep. Kevin D. Chambliss (D) said. "We would like to receive justification for the fee increase, but the fact that the application is available is still considered to be progress."

"It's a known fact there are a majority of Black farmers who are ineligible," Chambliss said.

Read the full report over at the Miami New Times.