Lawsuit by Florida resident claims special law discriminates against minority farmers


A Florida resident filed a lawsuit against the state and claimed the special provision under Florida’s medical cannabis law which requires the state to issue one license to a minority farmer is unconstitutional.

Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City and the plaintiff, said there is no reason to limit the opportunity of black farmers by only issuing a license to the members of the black farmers’ class who also belong to a private organization.

The law specifies one license out of the ten issued must be given to a black farmer who had participated in a settled discrimination lawsuit by the federal government, while also carrying a membership to the Florida Chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.

The lawsuit was filed against the Florida Department of Health, the organization responsible for distributing producer licenses. The state’s constitution specifically bans special laws which grant privilege to private entities.