Here's what we emailed out the week of June 28, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.
Lawyers have begun recommending petnups (a prenup for pets) to help manage divorce dealings over pets acquired during a marriage. The idea comes following years of court dealings where often the most contentious discussion is around pet ownership, which is generally categorized no differently than a piece of furniture. So far Alaska, California and Illinois have enacted bills to treat pets similarly to kids, while New York is working on a similar approach.
Florida claims Black farmers are first in line for medical marijuana licenses
Mon Jun 21
As headlines tout Black farmers being first in line for the next batch of medical marijuana licenses in Florida, an important detail is buried: only certain Black farmers are actually eligible.
How does race play into eligibility and why is licensing hard to get?
- When Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016, the law also sought to rectify past discrimination through diversity measures for licensing.
- One measure, referred to as the Black farmers license, would grant one license per batch to a litigant of the Pigford cases, a 1999 class action lawsuit in which Black farmers sued the USDA for discrimination and settled for over $1B from the USDA.
- But even if the applicant is a Pigford litigant (who are now 80+ or deceased), they must also meet the general requirements for vertical integration. This means they must grow, process, and sell medical marijuana — not just do one of those things. This greatly lowers the number of eligible farmers, Black or not.
- The only other way to get a license is purchase one the state granted to another and that runs up to $50M for a single license. Florida has only granted 22 licenses so far.
In fact, no Florida medical marijuana license is held by a Black-owned enterprise. The entire application process for the Black farmer’s license never got off the ground because of numerous lawsuits. And while some things have changed, much has not. This includes the latest court ruling last month cementing vertical integration requirements — another disappointment to advocacy groups who say it shrinks the already small pool of Black applicants.
But at least this means Florida can move forward. With this case concluded, the state can begin rule-making on the application process for the Black farmer’s license and start the application process for the next batch of licenses. The state is so far behind on the number of licenses required by law per qualified patient that they may even exercise emergency authority to expedite the process.
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: Tampa Bay Times
- Pigford v. Glickman (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Cases: EveryCRSReport
- Discrimination in hemp farming, especially in Florida: Project CBD
- Black farmers’ exclusion from Florida’s medical marijuana industry: HIGHLIFE Magazine
- Ruling on vertical integration and why it was critical: JD Supra and Florida Phoenix
Electric vehicles could make the power grid more efficient and resilient
Sat Jun 19
Most school buses sit collecting dust over the summer months. But what if we turned them into power plants instead? As more vehicles switch from diesel to electric, the power potential of these “batteries on wheels” only grows. New York saw this opportunity in 2018, and as of Friday began using idle electric school buses as power sources for their local utility grid to cope with spikes in demand. Plans to eventually electrify the entire 8,000 school bus fleet could collectively supply more than 100 megawatts of power to the grid for short periods, covering 1% of summer power demand (which is higher due to extra A/C use).
Vehicle-to-grid technology has been around since the 1990s, but is now picking up more interest as the world invests in a future rid of such high carbon emissions.
- Automaker General Motors has announced that it will manufacture and sell only electric vehicles by 2035, the same year Massachusetts will require all cars sold in the state to be electric.
- Several European countries say they’ll stop making internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025.
- While Japan’s electric car manufacturing is arguably behind, Nissan's EVs have been providing emergency power and transport in the country since 2011.
Beyond the clean energy and air benefits, the vehicle batteries provide a major power source for homeowners, serving as emergency backup for outages, a way to store extra rooftop solar power, or to even help power their house when electricity rates are more expensive. Though, critics worry EVs may overload utility capacities or take too long to charge to be beneficial.
Some additional resources...
- New York’s school bus grid: Grist
- Critics of electric vehicles: CleanTechnica
- Nissan’s power source in Japan: Engadget
- 1990s vehicle-to-grid research: University of Delaware
ASCII OF THE WEEK
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My humans getting along?! Oh fur-get it.
Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive