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Three Black Americans Will Get a Florida Cannabis Business License

marijuana licenses for black americans

On March 19, 2024, MJBiz Daily reported that health officials and lawmakers in Florida moved to increase the number of medical cannabis licenses held for Black American entrepreneurs. Senate Bill 1582 was passed, and if signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, three more licenses to Black farmers in the state will be issued.

If Senate Bill 1582 is ratified, it would bring the total number of licenses to Black farmers in Florida to six. One of the new cultivating licenses issued in Florida will be given to the family of a man named Moton Hopkins.

Sadly, Mr. Hopkins passed three weeks after submitting his application to receive a cannabis business license. His surviving family members and business (Hatchett Creek Farms) were initially denied the posthumous license. But there has been a drawn-out effort to have his license issued.

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The Anslinger Era and Marijuana Racial Arrest Bias in America

You cannot discuss cannabis legalization and social equity without understanding the true nature of “The War on Drugs.” Social prohibition of cannabis took off in America during the early 1930s, which is referred to as the Ansliger Era.

The “Anslinger Era” refers to the period of time during which Harry J. Anslinger was the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in the United States, from 1930 to 1962. The FBN became the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on July 1, 1973.

During this time, Anslinger played a central role in shaping cannabis policy and initiating the aggressive enforcement of cannabis prohibition. Under Anslinger’s leadership, cannabis was demonized and portrayed as a dangerous drug that posed significant threats to society. He promoted anti-cannabis propaganda campaigns, associating marijuana use with violence, insanity, and other social ills.

Anslinger’s efforts were largely driven by racial prejudice and political motives, and they contributed to the stigmatization of cannabis and its users.

Some key features of the Anslinger Era cannabis policies include:

Marijuana Tax Act of 1937

This legislation effectively criminalized cannabis at the federal level by imposing heavy taxes and regulations on its production, distribution, and possession. The Act made it extremely difficult to legally obtain or use cannabis for any purpose.

Overt Racial Bias

Anslinger and his supporters often used racial stereotypes to vilify cannabis, associating its use with minority communities, particularly African Americans and Mexican immigrants. This racial bias fueled discriminatory enforcement practices and contributed to the disproportionate targeting and incarceration of people of color for cannabis offenses.

International Influence

Anslinger also played a significant role in promoting anti-cannabis policies internationally through treaties and agreements. His efforts contributed to the global prohibitionist stance on cannabis that persists to this day.

Debunking Medical Use

Despite mounting evidence of cannabis’s potential medical benefits, Anslinger and his allies staunchly opposed its medical use, dismissing it as a dangerous drug with no therapeutic value. This stance hindered scientific research and medical advancements involving cannabis for several decades.

Overall, the Anslinger Era represents a dark period in the history of cannabis policy, characterized by fearmongering, racial prejudice, and draconian enforcement measures. The legacy of these policies continues to influence attitudes toward cannabis and shape modern drug laws and regulations.

three black americans will get a florida cannabis business license

The Intent of Social Equity Licenses Earmarked For Black Farmers

Cannabis social equity laws are intended to address the historical and ongoing disparities and injustices that have resulted from the enforcement of cannabis prohibition. These laws aim to create opportunities for individuals and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, particularly communities of color.

Key objectives of cannabis social equity laws include:

  1. Redressing Past Injustices: Many individuals, particularly from minority communities, have been disproportionately targeted and penalized for cannabis-related offenses. Social equity laws seek to address this by providing avenues for those affected to participate in the legal cannabis industry.
  2. Promoting Economic Empowerment: By providing access to resources, training, and business opportunities, social equity programs aim to empower individuals from marginalized communities to enter and thrive in the cannabis industry. This can help create jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and stimulate economic growth within these communities.
  3. Ensuring Diversity in the Industry: The legal cannabis industry has often been criticized for lacking diversity, with many minority-owned businesses facing barriers to entry. Social equity laws strive to promote diversity and inclusion by providing support and resources to minority entrepreneurs and businesses.
  4. Community Reinvestment: Some social equity programs include provisions for reinvesting tax revenues generated from the legal cannabis industry back into the communities most affected by prohibition. This can fund various social programs, such as education, job training, and substance abuse treatment, to further support community development and empowerment.

Overall, cannabis social equity laws seek to create a more equitable and inclusive cannabis industry while addressing the systemic injustices perpetuated by decades of cannabis prohibition. In many states, there are legal challenges to social equity licenses and allegations of discriminatory lending practices that favor white entrepreneurs that create barriers to black farmers’ entry into the cannabis industry.

medical marijuana laws

Social Equity Provisions in Florida

To address concerns, an additional three (3) medical marijuana licenses issued would be provided to black farmers. With 2024 cannabis sales projected to reach $4B in 2024 and a possible constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana in Florida, the stakes (and economic opportunity) for cannabis-related businesses have never been higher.

Unlike many other states, Florida does not have a formalized social equity program. The state does, however, have three provisions:

1) One of the ten initial licenses was earmarked for a black farmer in Florida who was a member of the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1999.

2) Florida requires applicants to have strong diversity plans. No additional guidance is given to define what a ‘strong diversity plan’ should entail.

3) Applicants are also required to show employment diversity practices. This includes employing American military veterans and minority workers and efforts to employ minority and veteran-owned businesses.

There are no fee waivers or reductions for Black American entrepreneurs who wish to start a Florida cannabis business. To date, Florida has not offered state-level licensing priorities for minority business owners, with the exception of the member appointed as a result of the Pigford v. Glickman settlement.





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