A Florida judge ruled Wednesday that Joe Redner, Tampa’s strip club king, has the legal right to grow marijuana for medical purposes. Though Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers emphasized this only applies to Redner, a 77-year-old stage 4 lung cancer survivor and registered medical marijuana patient, it could open the floodgates for similar cases. The Florida Department of Health has already filed an appeal.
As a “qualifying patient,” Gievers ruled, Redner possesses a constitutional right to own a live marijuana plant. Previously, the health department had stated that everyone is barred from growing their own cannabis plants, including qualifying medical patients.
“Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician,” Gievers stated in her ruling. (In the document, the word “solely” is bolded and underlined.)
“The court also finds…that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements.” Until the department stops “violating its constitutional duty and mandated presumptive regulation, the evidence clearly demonstrates that Redner is entitled to follow the recommendations of his certified physician under Florida law,” Gievers added, which is a reference to the 2016 constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that legalized medical marijuana.
Today’s ruling clears the way for for medical marijuana card holders to grow their own, according to @joeredner. He doesn’t hold back here on how he feels about how Florida has handled Medical Marijuana…. pic.twitter.com/kruKXS21GS
— holly gregory (@hollygregory33) April 11, 2018
Gievers’ ruling legitimizes complaints leveraged against the state’s health department from numerous medical patients. We’ve reported along the way just how Florida’s medical marijuana programs have failed patients. From individuals not receiving their medical cannabis ID cards for months at a time to nefarious clinics taking advantage of patients inexperienced with the drug, it’s been dark for medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Redner’s attorney Luke Lirot told the Tampa Bay Times Gievers was right “castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine.”
However, the health department’s appeal places a stay on Gievers’ ruling. That means Redner will remain banned from growing medical marijuana for his personal use. The appeal likely won’t be heard until late this year or early 2019.
“I filed this lawsuit because I couldn’t have survived cancer without medical marijuana. It’s not just a miracle drug—it’s a miracle plant, and the State keeps standing in the way of patients getting their medicine,” Redner told Florida Politics.
“…A mom who’s using low THC cannabis to control her child’s seizures can stick a plant in the ground and make her baby’s medicine for around 30 bucks a month if she can grow her own,” he added. “And 71 percent of us voted for an amendment that clearly gives her that right. This ruling is a victory for the patients of Florida.”