Columbus Smith of Panama City had asked that the courts ultimately strike the portion of state law that requires a license to go to a member of the Black Farmers Association.
ZACK McDONALD News Herald Reporter @PCNHzack
PANAMA CITY — An 82-year-old black farmer is one step closer toward becoming one of only 17 across the state to be allowed to grow marijuana for medical use, according to court records.
Circuit Judge Charles Dodson sided Thursday with Columbus Smith after an injunction hearing in connection to his lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health (DOH). Smith filed the lawsuit in September in the 2nd Judicial Court in Leon County claiming a law adopted by the state — reserving a medical marijuana cultivation license for minority farmers — prevented him from bidding for the license because it was reserved specifically for members of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, a private association not allowing new members to join. Smith, of Panama City, then requested the court prevent the state from issuing the license until its constitutionality can be determined.
Dodson agreed to put a hold on DOH at the end of Thursday’s hearings. Now, the DOH and Smith’s attorney will craft an order for the judge to sign in the coming weeks.
Smith’s attorney, Sam Ard of Tallahassee, said the decision essentially means the court found the lawsuit has a substantial chance prevail on its merits in a summary judgment. While it does not hand the license to Smith, the ruling puts Smith in a position where he can be in a pool of about a dozen applicants for a license that is worth millions of dollars.
“He wasn’t going to get to apply,” Ard said. “Had we not challenged the law, it’s over. But now he will