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Friday, April 6, 2018

Black farmer drops lawsuit against Florida's medical marijuana law

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 10:31 AM

After Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last week that resolved the case, a Panama City farmer has dropped a constitutional challenge to a 2017 law that included criteria for awarding a potentially lucrative medical-marijuana license to a black farmer.

Attorneys for Columbus Smith filed a notice Tuesday in Leon County circuit court that they were dismissing the lawsuit. The 2017 law required one medical-marijuana license to go to a black farmer who had been part of settled lawsuits, known as “Pigford” cases, about discrimination against black farmers by the federal government.



The measure also required the black farmer who received a license to be a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. Smith met the qualification of being part of the Pigford litigation, but he was not allowed to join the black farmers association, effectively preventing him from receiving a license.

The Florida Constitution bars “special” laws, in part, that relate to “grant of privilege to a private corporation.” The lawsuit alleged the narrow criteria for awarding a marijuana license to a black farmer violated that part of the Constitution.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in January granted a temporary injunction requested by Smith. But lawmakers during this year’s legislative session approved a bill (HB 6049) that removed the requirement that farmers be members of the association to qualify for a marijuana license.

Scott signed the bill Friday.

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