Florida Judge Gives Green Light For Man To Grow His Own Marijuana

April 12, 2018

A Tallahassee judge Wednesday gave the OK to Tampa entrepreneur Joe Redner to grow his own pot to treat cancer, prompting state health officials to immediately appeal a decision that could open the door to more legal skirmishes over Florida’s medical-marijuana regulations.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the 77-year-old Redner — who made his fortune as a strip-club owner — can grow his own marijuana because state rules prohibit Florida medical-marijuana operators from selling whole plants or flowers.

Redner’s doctor ordered a juicing treatment that uses live marijuana plants to prevent a relapse of stage 4 lung cancer, according to court documents. Emulsification, or juicing, of the “biomass of the marijuana plant” was determined to be “the most effective way” for Redner, a longtime vegan, “to get the benefit of medical marijuana,” according to Gievers’ order.

“The Constitution says what it says, and the judge recognized what I’ve been saying all along: The Department of Health and the Legislature can’t take away the rights that the Constitution gives you,” Redner said in a statement Wednesday.

Redner’s lawyer, Luke Lirot, argued that a voter-approved constitutional amendment broadly authorizing medical marijuana “unambiguously allows” the Tampa man to follow his doctor’s recommended method of taking the pot treatment.

Redner is forced to grow his own plants to make the liquid treatment because the Department of Health hasn’t allowed any marijuana operators to sell whole plants to patients, Lirot argued.

Siding with Redner, Gievers found the prohibition defies the 2016 constitutional amendment.

“Nothing in the amendment authorizes the Department of Health (or any other part of Florida’s government) to ignore the rights of qualifying patients to access the medical marijuana treatment to which they are entitled under the Florida Constitution, or to exclude any method by which qualifying patients may take their medicine,” Gievers wrote in Wednesday’s 22-page order.

The judge also scolded state officials, writing that the health department “has been, and continues to be, non-compliant” with Florida constitutional requirements.

“Until and unless the department stops violating its constitutional duty and adopts the mandated presumptive regulation, the evidence clearly demonstrates that Mr. Redner is entitled to follow the recommendations of his certified physician under Florida law, and to possess, grow, and use his own medical marijuana plants in a secure manner so he will have access to the medical marijuana to which he is entitled under the amendment,” Gievers wrote.

The Department of Health’s notice of appeal in the case “automatically operates as a stay of the final judgment pending appellate review,” lawyers for the state agency wrote.

Lirot said he will file a motion as soon as Thursday asking Gievers to lift the stay.

The state’s request to block Gievers’ decision — which the judge wrote applies only to Redner — comes as no surprise, according to Adam Eland, Redner’s partner in a business called Florigrown. Florigrown filed a separate marijuana-related lawsuit in Tallahassee last year.

“Instead of wasting the taxpayers’ money with an appeal that is a sure loser, the department would be better served to rethink their unconstitutional approach to regulating this program,” Eland said. “Judge Gievers made absolutely clear that the department has no authority to limit any route of administration. That’s what the amendment says, and we expect our state government to defend the Constitution, not try to judge shop their way out of it.”

Wednesday’s decision telegraphs what Gievers may do in a separate lawsuit initiated by John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who largely bankrolled what was known as Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment approved by more than 72 percent of Florida voters in 2016.

In that case, Cathy Jordan and other patients are challenging a state law, passed during a special session last year, that carries out the amendment and, among other things, bans patients from smoking marijuana.

Jon Mills, a former University of Florida law-school dean who represents the patients and who authored the amendment, argued that the ban violates the Constitution, which he maintains allows qualified patients to use smokable marijuana as a treatment if their doctors order it. Gievers is scheduled to hold a hearing in the case next month.

Gievers’ ruling in the Redner lawsuit “makes the Mills case a fait accompli, or, as my friend says, a done deal,” Lirot told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“They’ll get the benefit of that,” he said.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana operator Trulieve is asking state health officials to allow the Gadsden County-based company to sell whole flower to patients like Redner.

“Trulieve is committed to expanding patient access across Florida. In anticipation of this court decision, we sought state approval to provide this patient — and others like him — with the medical marijuana his doctor prescribed and stand ready to dispense it once authorized,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement.

Trulieve got in trouble with state health officials last year, after the vendor started selling whole-flower cannabis. The health department sent the grower a cease-and-desist order after the News Service reported that the company had started selling a whole flower product for use in vaporizers but which could easily be smoked.

In a separate lawsuit filed last week, Trulieve asked a judge to strike down a state law that limits the number of dispensaries marijuana companies can operate, saying the restriction “arbitrarily impairs product availability and safety” and “unfairly penalizes” pot providers.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida


11 Responses to “Florida Judge Gives Green Light For Man To Grow His Own Marijuana”

  1. Colin Cote on April 27th, 2018 2:49 pm

    Marijuana has many more uses than just medicinal. It should be legal for anyone to grow as much of it as they can for use as bio diesel oil and textiles as well as for vegan food suppliment and for medicinal and recreational use. And yes recreation is an important part of maintaining good health and marijuana used responsibly is great for promoting healthy recreation for at least as many people as is having a couple drinks. The only difference is the marijuana unlike the alcohol has no ill or permanent side effects.
    Hemp is a very useful strong and durable textile and hemp seeds are second to no other crop in the amount of bio diesel that can be prodused per acre. This alone could go a very long way to reversing global warming caused by fossil fuels.
    Land of the free? Funny how our government only defends freedom for big business and not individual people.

  2. supporter of medical cannibas on April 13th, 2018 12:56 pm

    Depending on what disease you are fighting along with your individual DNA every person had different needs. Some need more THC than CBD others need more CBD and THC. Let the doctors determine the appropriate method of consumption and dosage … some people have better results from juicing the plants, others use sublingual oils, and still others can also use a topical cream for their pain. It needs to be taken off the Schedule 1 list as there are too many studies that show there is medical use for it. What is really interesting is that it did not become a schedule 1 until 1937 (after prohibition ended) and that the US government has a patent on Cannabis that was issued in 2003. Prior to 1937 it was used for many different types of ailments including PMS. It is very helpful too to refer to it by its latin name of Cannabis instead of marijuana or weed or pot as that seems to take it down from the medicine that it is.

  3. Mary jane on April 13th, 2018 10:26 am

    it is the wonder drug just like the elixir that they sold way back when. It is a cure all. A miracle drug. Not.

  4. Mike Honcho on April 12th, 2018 9:38 pm

    Do a little more research Bobby and see that thc helps with the epileptic seizures

  5. Mark on April 12th, 2018 9:09 pm

    Good idea Judge. We finally live in a free country.

  6. Bobby on April 12th, 2018 2:05 pm

    All of the healthy and medical benefits of marijuana come from the ingredients inside the plant that don’t get you high. There is no medical benefit in the actual THC. So I don’t understand the problem. Keep THC illegal and allow the non-impairing ingredients to be legal.

  7. My2Cents on April 12th, 2018 10:55 am

    Please just legalize it nationwide. Marijuana does so much good. The production of hemp products will be beneficial as well.

    Alcohol is more dangerous than weed but it’s legal. Just have similar rules & regulations.

  8. Dakota on April 12th, 2018 9:09 am

    I commend the Judge on this decision. I also question why other government leaders and their agencies lack the ability to make sound judgements in these situations. They should read the law and use compassion.

  9. Grand Locust on April 12th, 2018 8:35 am

    Prohibition failed, but not before criminal enterprises increased violence and made billions for the bad guys. Lift prohibition and when I drink a beer Elliot Ness is not kicking the door down. The Drug War failed, but not before criminal enterprises increased violence and made trillions for the bad guys. Lift the drug war and when a cancer patient gets relief, and the government Bureaucrats who justify their existence by the Drug war can pound on sand and the man gets better.

    However, when President Obama in the Affordable Care Act gave Big Pharm a trillion dollar boost on shopping drug prices like the VA is able to do while a person like myself who is dying from cancer could buy Sandostatin in Canada for 3k a shot, yet they bill my insurance company 10K for the same drug because I am an American patient. Western Europe and Canada have lower drug prices because they let the free market system work……in America they get a monopoly, Big Pharm did not want to see folks getting relief in Florida with something they can grow in their back yard. They fought legalized medical pot in Florida, and still the folks in the house and senate take their money and ignore the citizens and constitution. Shame!

  10. mike on April 12th, 2018 8:15 am

    that’d be too easy deBugger, besides, then how would lawyers and the court make any money outta the deal? the judicial system mainly makes it’s scratch bcuz stupid idiots keep breaking the law, but the extra cash from litigation over things like pot is gravy train choochoo to them. i mean, how else are they gonna pay for the new jetskis for the kids, or that new hitech automatic cleaner for the swimming pool for the guest house behind the mansion? :D

  11. deBugger on April 12th, 2018 6:02 am

    just legalize it, already…


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