The legalization of marijuana by many states across the country is garnering big business for growers and distributors. It is estimated that the legal marijuana trade grosses profits close to $3 billion to $10 billion with a workforce of nearly 60,000 in 23 states. A growing string of businesses are profiting from growing and distributing marijuana. But when it comes to Black farmers getting a piece of the lucrative pie, it seems they are being shut out.
Certain rules such as barring individuals with felony drug convictions, as well as expensive application and licensing fees are a significant hurdle for potential Black businesses. When it comes to Florida, Black farmers are now taking their fight for entry to the market to the state legislature. In Florida, state law requires that growers have operated a registered nursery for at least 30 consecutive years. Black farmers are crying foul because there are possibly no Blacks who meet this criteria. Part of their argument is that they believe that past discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made it close to impossible to enter the industry.
According to Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association President Howard Gunn, Jr., “There weren’t that many Black farmers 30 years ago in the nursery business. 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.”
It is a fact that the USDA discriminated against Black farmers by increasing tax sales, seizing land, delaying loans and denying subsidies and disaster relief and other actions, which White farmers were not subjected to. Because of these injustices, 13,000 Black farmers successfully sued the federal government for over $2.3 billion.
TAGS: marijuana, black farmers,discrimination,Florida,USDA,pigford decision