As part of the green wave that has swept America, 16 states — from ultra-liberal California to ultra-conservative Oklahoma — have allowed citizens to grow their own marijuana. But ultra-belligerent Florida has spent millions of dollars denying people the right to grow cannabis for personal consumption.
The most recent setback came last Tuesday, when the First District Court of Appeal refused to reconsider its decision to essentially prohibit Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner from growing his own cannabis, which he uses to keep his Stage 4 lung cancer in remission.
“What they did was just amateur bullshit,” Redner said by phone. “They have convoluted the whole goddamn thing.”
Redner vows to appeal. It won't be easy. After the three-judge panel's decision, the Florida Supreme Court would have to certify the issue as a “question of great public importance."
A doctor has recommended that Redner, who is 78 years old, use a juicing treatment from marijuana plants to prevent a relapse. The treatment is not sold in any of the dispensaries where cannabis vapes, capsules, and concentrates often do not contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids that cannabis plants contain.
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Redner argues the right to grow cannabis falls under the voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines “medical use” of marijuana as the “acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration” of cannabis.
Florida Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled in Redner’s favor in April 2018, but the Florida Department of Health under Gov. Rick Scott appealed the decision. The appeals court took a much narrower interpretation of the phrase “medical use,” specifying it did not mean to “grow” or “process” cannabis.
The longtime owner of the strip club Mons Venus is a local legend in Tampa. Deadspin calls him the "self-proclaimed father of the lap dance,” and some credit him with helping make the city the “strip club capital of the world.”
He has won many First Amendment legal battles, and his highlights were documented in the 2008 movie Strip Club King: The Joe Redner Story. He is confident he will prevail. “Courts are subject to the Constitution and have no power to tamper with it,” he said. “Courts are expected to uphold the Constitution.”