Black Farmers Shut Out Of $10 Billion Medical Marijuana Business

States laws may prevent black farmers from growing medical marijuana

black farmers
(Image: File)

National support for legalizing marijuana has been growing rapidly.

Now legalized in 23 states and the District of Columbia for medical use and four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – and DC for recreational use, cannabis is big business. Independent analysts have valued the legal industry at $3 billion and rising to $10 billion when including ancillary trades and services.

Cassandra Farrington, the co-founder and chief executive of Marijuana Business Media, puts the industry’s workforce at 60,000.

Others sates are expected to follow suit over the next couple of years, putting an end to cannabis prohibition. With the industry concentrating on making cannabis more of a mainstream and sellable product, a growing crop of businesses are expected to profit from the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

[Related: Eight More States Projected To Legalize Marijuana]

There has been widespread concern that African American entrepreneurs would be left out America’s big green rush. Now there is concern that black farmers will be kept out as well.

In many states that have legalized medical marijuana, people with drug-related felony convictions cannot open cannabis-related businesses. Additionally, application fees and licensing fees for medical marijuana dispensaries often total tens of thousands of dollars, further keeping opportunity at arm’s length for many minority entrepreneurs.

What’s more, many states like Florida are allowing nurseries to grow and distribute it, but under very tight constraints. A provision of a Florida medical marijuana law has caused much controversy among black farmers in the state who say it’s shutting them out of the potentially lucrative industry, reports This group has now taken their fight to the Florida legislature in the hopes of passing an amendment that takes the regulation out of the bill.

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which allows some nurseries in the state to grow and distribute low-THC marijuana to patients who suffer from cancer, seizures, and muscle spasms. But the law stipulates that those who qualify for licensing must have operated as a registered nursery in Florida for 30 consecutive years — a criterion that many, if not all, black farmers in the state can’t meet. Farmers of color say they’ve been hampered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s past discriminatory practices that have made it difficult for them to thrive in the industry.

“There weren’t that many black farmers 30 years ago in the nursery business,” Howard Gunn, Jr, the president of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association, told FOX News. “Because of that, we weren’t able to produce as much or be as profitable as [other] farmers. If we found one [black] farmer growing that many plants, it would be surprising.”

Regardless of the outcome, the current case in Florida has reminded some farmers of color that their economic position didn’t occur by happenstance, according to During the Reconstruction Era,  for example, freed slaves couldn’t receive farming loans without credit history.

The USDA later marginalized farmers of color by increasing tax sale, seizing of land through eminent domain, delaying loans until after the end of the planting season, and denying crop disaster relief funds. By the early 1990s, the black farmer population fell by nearly 100 percent, eventually prompting a class action lawsuit against the USDA that resulted in the allocation of more than $2.3 billion to more than 13,000 farmers.

  • Estella Cohen

    A way to stop of from being financial independent!!! Cause if you know we could sell it Illegally……. just think what we could do legally!!!!

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    You need to have practiced your craft for 30 years to prove you know what you are doing? And good American citizens are going to allow this crap to continue?

    • Estella Cohen

      What other craft do have to practice 30 years to get a license?? I’m waiting. You don’t have to practice 30 years to be a surgeon much less grow one of the few crops that grow naturally without cultivation. Black folks have grown weed all over the Caribbean for generations, NOW that white folks want to sell it becomes a science.

  • trboone

    No one is allowing folks with a drug conviction to be a part of this! Um and the PROBLEM IS??????? For the slow, this is keeping ALL FOLKS WITH CRIMINAL HISTORIES OUT!!!

    • DebunktionJunction

      The problem, which should be obvious, is that many of those with the knowledge and experience required for growing marijuana have likely had a drug-related conviction, purely on the basis that marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance. Also you don’t tend to see these restrictions placed on any other agribusiness, where I’m sure Dole doesn’t give a shit about the Mexican criminal who is trying to live his life in the US.

      The Florida stature is ridiculous. And if it’s shown that majority of black owned businesses cannot meet this requirement, it’s clearly discriminatory, as marijuana is not a plant that requires years of preparation like avocados and almonds.

      • trboone

        I have no sympathy for folks who KNEW THE POSSESSION OF WEED was a crime !!!! Who wasn’t taught as a child that things you do will catch up…. There are many vocations where if you have a record, you can’t be hired. Weed growing is yet another one… As for the years of planting how os that discriminatory???? Either you have the experience or you don’t….

        • DebunktionJunction

          So then the question become “just how do you have experience growing an illegal substance”.

          You’re just against marijuana. Or Black people. Or poor people. Or rational thought.

          • trboone

            I’m Black and I’m against criminals of any color. What would be racist is if the rule was that Whites, Asians and Hispanics can have a criminal record but BLACKS CANT. You might try rational thought. It helps me everyday…

          • Estella Cohen

            I guess you didn’t read the part about owning farm land for at least 30yrs? How rational is that thought? Why can’t you learn to be a farmer like you can learn any other trade? It ain’t brain surgery or rocket science!

          • trboone

            Um so????? I didn’t make the rule…

          • Estella Cohen

            Right,but you don’t have accept the injustice either.

          • trboone

            You are ASSuming I don’t agree. I just don’t care that much about it. Folks want to cry racism every hour of the day. Even where there is none!!!! I’m not interested in this nonsense….

          • Estella Cohen

            Until it happens to you or someone you care about!

          • Estella Cohen

            Really…..I guess that’s why you answered or even read the article.

          • Michael Angelo Taylor

            Yeah I’m pretty sure you have a white or “other” girlfriend or wife too…

          • trboone

            Way to stay on topic!!!! Btw I am female….

          • Stewbert

            Keep sticking your head in the sand or in your a__ if you prefer

          • trboone

            Enjoy being a low class fool!

          • trboone

            Or are you just high right now and mad you can’t grow your own?

          • trboone

            And reading is fundamental. Anyone who wants to plant has to have been a registered nursery. NOT a weed grower. Again this is something you either have or don’t have… Weeds out ALL COLORS…

          • DebunktionJunction

            Please explain to us all why you need a nursery that’s been registered for 30 years? And explain in agricultural terms, keeping in mind that no other agricultural product is subject to this restriction.

          • trboone

            I don’t need to explain the rule. I didn’t make it. My point for the slow is that it isnt discriminatory. My job is done!

          • DebunktionJunction

            I get it! You’re a drug dealer already and you are fearful that your more moneyed competition may go legit by starting their own grow operation. Thus you stand adamantly for this provision in order to keep your competition from gaining more profit over yourself as the likelihood of them having a registered nursery that meets the criteria is close to zero. A stupid idea since you’ll be allowing wealthy landowners and businessmen, who will almost exclusively be White, to form a monopoly over a brand new legal industry before it’s even had a chance to begin; but as far as short-term profits, bravo dear sir.

            If this is your concern, just come out and say it. No need to masquerade as an ignorant fool that doesn’t bother to think for themselves.

          • trboone

            I stayed in school and got degree(s) so that I don’t have to campaign to grow weed. YOU ARE THE IGNORANT FOOL that keeps saying the rules are racist. They aren’t and YOU proved the point. They may be skewed in favor of larger farms but they aren’t racist….. I really don’t care !

          • Mr. Healer

            Quit arguing with the moron. What U’re seeing is simply a POTS (Product of the system)

          • Stewbert

            It is very easy to include a clause knowing who will be affected most but then it allows you to claim that it is not discriminatory. This seems to be a perfect example.

          • trboone

            Wow …. Growing marijuana is not a right!!! Every state that currently allows dispensaries makes the rules onerous for multiple reasons. Racism isn’t one of them. I would buy the claim that this favors folks with money and clean records way before the tired cries of racism.

          • R. Wiggins

            If you dont care about this topic or the people, why are you still in the conversation. First you are not black or female. However you are a first class jerk.

          • kay

            OK white person.

          • I have to jump in here

            Something is deemed as discriminatory if it is obvious that a large group of people will be excluded by using it as a rule. I can see what you are saying about rules but you should acknowledge when there is one that is unobtainable to one group

          • Tameka Reeder

            It’s pretty simple. It’s discriminatory because 30 years ago most black farmers were not in a position to own registered nurseries as a result of previous discriminatory practices that had been in place. Whether intentional or unintentional, the requirement is discriminatory and adversely impacts one race significantly more than another.

        • Estella Cohen

          To grow weed????

        • q

          Mann you just don’t get it I see…..smh

        • Will

          It has nothing to do with experience!!! Putting this 30 year clause in the statue is just another “backdoor” way of keeping more ppl out, and when you look at the ppl being kept out they are mostly black farmers. It’s simple I know ppl like you don’t want to think that blacks aren’t discriminated against, but numbers don’t lie. As for felons, that just further show how hypocritical this government is. All the ppl with Weed charges should be considered “trendsetters”, visionaries, etc.. for spearheading the weed industry.

    • johhny boy

      Idiot troll. I’m not even gonna school you on the hypocrisies of your statements and the American “justice” system. If you can’t see the wrong it it by reading this article then there’s no hope for you. People like u have to die off first before these things become a non issue

      • trboone

        It is too early in the morning for you to call folks idiot trolls simply because of a differing opinion. You certainly aren’t intelligent enough to school me on anything. I read the article and I don’t agree. Enough said. Make it a great day. I certainly will!

    • johhny boy

      Idiot troll. I’m not even gonna school you on the hypocrisies of your statements and the American “justice” system. If you can’t see the wrong it it by reading this article then there’s no hope for you. People like u have to die off first before these things become a non issue

    • Andre

      Black folks get felonies and jail time. White folks get rehab the very same offense. Black folks get felonies no access to school loans diminished job opportunities. White folks get a fresh start.

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  • snoopy

    Pilgrims will do anything to keep black people dependent on them. White supremacy at it finest.

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  • Yah Daughter

    Black Americans and African Americans built this country as slaves, now are free and when we want to make money we are not allow??? The door is open wide open for anyone else but just not Blacks and African Americans. Black Americans and African Americans we all should move back where they found us, build up that country with our knowledge and talent become Millionaires there. We all know America will always be a racist country.

    • Love

      Facts…we must leave! No more complaining about the system. The “Chocolate” must all grow the balls to escape America’s society. I love America, but it’s clear to me I’m not wanted to have equal opportunity

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  • Elisheba

    Why not hire them on a provional basis but also encourage them and even help them to get past convictions cleared up, esspecially in cases where it was solely a drug conviction. Not only get it cleared up, but get legislation passed that clears up other marijuana user’s past drug convictions. As far as I understand it, there are countless individuals who are still locked up unnecessarilly, and that is a crime in itself.

  • Elisheba

    Though truth be told, no one is hired on a permanent basis anyways, everyone faces scruteny when they start out. So hiring them provisionally? Basically, if they cause problems, they get fired just like anyone else, but give them a chance, maybe they’ll be the best workers you ever had. Or maybe not, but that’s fine too, do you really want to shut them out of what they and their parent’s and grandparents started? It’s totally discrispectful really.

  • Elisheba

    I mean, just deal with it logically, it’s not the same as any other business, it has to be treated with extra care and EXTRA cultural sensitivity. Get yourself a damn anthropologist if you can’t figure out how to handle things properly, that’s exactly the sort of thing they’re good at, cultural relations. Can’t afford it? Then don’t bother to clumsly stumble into their “territory” and think everything is going to be ok just because you said howdy do and tipped your hat their way. Step back until you can do right by them the first time. Or step down and get new management that can do it for you.

  • TJB

    Cry cry cry poor me look at my color look at my race, WHO IS THE DISCRIMINATER so your ancestor was a slave or walked the trail of tears or a Japanese citizen put in camp during war time GET OVER IT!!! YOU WERE BORN HERE, YOU ARE A AMRICAN CITIZEN, PEIORD! not a black, brown,white, red, yellow or green American, just American, Don’t be part of the problem, stop labeling, pull up your boot straps and just go forward in life stop looking for special treatment and hand outs and entitlements, stay out of jail and prison, if it hurts don’t do it. president Trump will help us to stop being socialist and welfare handouts any thing for free count on me society if I got to work you must be the jerk, IT’S MY COLOR IT’S MY COLOR. NO IT IS YOU BULLSHIT EXCUASE.