M4MM (Minorities for Medical Marijuana) has been doing some amazing work to help increase diversity in the cannabis industry and to provide advocacy, education, training, and outreach to underserved communities. Some of their most recent work has been in Florida to bring people together regarding hemp legislation and cultivation, where they are leading the charge to get advocates and stakeholders organized around shaping a sustainable hemp farming program in the state.
In December 2018 Congress voted and passed the newly amended Farm Bill with bipartisan support. The farm bill legalizes the production of hemp, which is a form of cannabis with lower federal and state limits than for high THC cultivars, which are classified as marijuana by the federal and state government.
On January 9, 2019 Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried took control of the Florida Department of Agriculture department, begins to communicate her objectives, will hire department leads, and its off to the races.
Roz McCarthy, Founder/CEO for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM) hosted a Hemp Farming Workgroup meeting at M4MM’s corporate office in Orlando Florida on January 9, 2019. Key Florida stakeholders in Hemp farming, business, and entrepreneurship spent the day creating a SWOT analysis and identifying action items required to place Florida’s hemp industry on the map. “Yes, Florida is four years behind the competition however our ability to turn a crop 2-3 per year could be a game changer” states Brian Griffith, hemp processing consultant.
The current state of Florida's medical marijuana program has no minority- or women-owned license holders. Hemp farming may present a true opportunity for people of color to enter an industry they have been shut out of nationwide. Currently, people of color make up a dismal 1% of the total business ownership in the cannabis space.
During this three-hour brainstorming session conversations centered on opportunities for farmers, greenhouse growers, investor opportunities, equipment required for planting, processing, and packaging. Ultimately, the group agreed to wooing manufacturers to Florida who are willing to create hemp products coupled with creating a hemp processing infrastructure, which should be the priority now that the 2018 Farm Bill has passed.
The following subject matter experts were in attendance Tom Quigley, Brian Griffith, Bill Monroe, Dr. Jackson Garth, Erik Range, David Ellerstein, Rick Joyce, Jeff Field, Aubree Arias, Jack Burden, and Roz McCarthy.
Ideas were captured, short- and long-term opportunities documented, and a report will be generated for review and consideration by Florida’s new commissioner of agriculture and her appointed staff. The identified low hanging fruit opportunities will be shared with the Department of Agriculture. “The plan is in place and I will make sure black and brown farmers are not left out,” states McCarthy.
The goals are inclusion of all farmers regardless of race, financial status, and class. The group will act as a think tank for discussing hemp related opportunities, networking, and open sharing of information.
Within the next 20 days M4MM is planning to share their findings, recommendations, and suggestions with Commissioner Fried and her staff. You can look here to learn more about Minorities for Medical Marijuana’s mission and vision.