Nikki Fried to Host Florida’s First Cannabis Equity Summit

Last week, state Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced the inaugural Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Cannabis Equity Summit to take place June 17, 2022, at the Urban League of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale.

The one-day summit will concentrate on the theme “Accessing Opportunities and Overcoming Obstacles” and is being hosted in collaboration with the Urban League of Broward County and Greenbook Academy.

“With over 700,000 medical marijuana patients in the state, thousands of sustainable industrial uses for hemp, and adult-use on the horizon, the cannabis industry is creating exciting new economic opportunities,” said Fried. “As this growing industry continues to develop, it’s crucial that everyone is able to participate in this emerging market. Unfortunately, too often White cannabis consumers and producers are profiting off of the current state-legal systems and federal gray areas of cannabis regulations while a disproportionate number of Black, Brown, and low-income individuals remain incarcerated for minor cannabis offenses, are targeted by discriminatory enforcement practices, and face barriers to participation in legal markets – as patients, producers, and entrepreneurs. This summit is an opportunity to recognize the inequities that exist and work together as a community to increase access to the cannabis industry and state-legal programs as we continue to push for full legalization and restorative justice for communities impacted by the failed War on Drugs.”

“A major focus of the Commissioner’s advocacy has been addressing issues of inequity in the cannabis industry. This includes calling on the state to issue the Pigford Class license for Black farmers. Most recently, she called for an investigation into a discriminatory FDOH rule that doubled the fees for Pigford farmers to apply for medical marijuana treatment licenses, calling for the rules to immediately be revised,” Fried’s office noted. “During her first year in office, she established a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to find ways to expand patient access, increase innovation and technology in the industry, and make recommendations to the Florida Legislature and the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use to improve the state’s medical marijuana policies.”

In 2020, Fried created the Florida Hemp Program “with the specific intent to create an equitable program, as opposed to the restrictive vertical integration system used for the state’s medical marijuana program.”

Within its first year, the hemp industry in Florida created an estimated $370 million economic impact, supported over 9,000 jobs, and generated over $17 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue. Currently there are over 700 active hemp cultivation licenses, 945 cultivation sites, and nearly 20,000 approved acres across 64 of Florida’s 67 counties.

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