Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 2018
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2018 The Tribune Co.
Author: Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer


Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers has ruled that Tampa strip
club owner Joe Redner has the right to grow his own marijuana.

The ruling, released Wednesday morning, applies only to Redner,

The Florida Department of Health had said Floridians are barred under
state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including
those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.

But Redner and other critics across the state say the health
department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000
registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana.
Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical
marijuana patient.

"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 said in her ruling. The word "solely" is bolded
and underlined for emphasis in the document.

"The court also finds  that the Florida Department of Health has
been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida
Constitutional requirements," the judge added.

Redner's attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right
to "castigate the Health Department for being a barrier to medicine."

Because the ruling applies solely to Redner, no other registered
medical marijuana patient in Florida has the right to grow their own
cannabis. But Lirot says Redner's case "does provide a usable approach
for other people whose doctors will certify that this is of value."

The state will file to appeal the ruling, which would block Redner
from growing his own marijuana right away. Lirot says his first order
of business will be to try to lift the stay that prevents Redner from
growing and juicing marijuana during the appeal process. The appeals
process likely won't begin until late this year or even early next
year, which could delay Redner's ability to grow and juice cannabis.

In January, Gievers denied a motion by the Florida Department of
Health to dismiss Redner's case. The judge also denied Redner's motion
for an emergency temporary injunction, which would have allowed him to
grow marijuana plants during the court process. But she described
Redner's plea in the case as "constitutional in nature," which allowed
it to move forward.

In the Wednesday ruling, Gievers says that Health Department "has
still not complied with the Constitution," and until it 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

During a short, non-jury trial for the case in March, attorneys
representing the Health Department warned that Redners case could open
the door to more potential lawsuits over the amendment's language.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the Health Department, but
none other than Redner's has specifically challenged the state
agency's interpretation of the amendment's language.

But Redner says this means other patients should be able to challenge
to possess their own plants, too.

"With this order, (patients) can go to their doctor now, and as long
as they have a good enough reason to need to possess a plant, be it
because they can't afford the medicine at the dispensaries, as long as
they have a recommendation anyone should be allowed to grow," Redner
said. "The cat is out of the bag. There's no way to stop this now.
It's steam rolling."
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