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Supreme Court Rejects Joe Redner Pot Appeal

Joe Redner
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Joe Redner

The Florida Supreme Court has refused to wade into a dispute about whether prominent Tampa strip-club owner Joe Redner should be allowed to grow his own medical marijuana to help fight lung cancer.

In a 4-1 order Friday, the court declined to take up an appeal by Redner. The order did not provide explanation, as is common. Justice Jorge Labarga was the only justice who supported hearing the case.

Redner filed the lawsuit seeking to grow marijuana for juicing purposes after Florida voters approved a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. 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.

A Leon County circuit judge sided with Redner, who argued the constitutional amendment authorized the “use” of marijuana for patients suffering from certain debilitating conditions, such as cancer. But the 1st District Court of Appeal in April rejected Redner’s interpretation of the constitutional amendment.

“The term ‘use’ is not defined by the amendment. However, it is clear, when one examines the entire amendment, that ‘use’ does not mean ‘grow’ or ‘process,’ as Mr. Redner argues,” the April ruling said.

But in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, Redner’s lawyers argued that the amendment established immunity from prosecution for qualified patients engaged in the medical use of marijuana, as recommended by their physicians. The appeals court decision wrongly interpreted “the term ‘marijuana’ to have one meaning for purposes of the amendment and yet another meaning for purposes of criminal prosecution and drug control,” his lawyers wrote in a brief filed July 29. 

The decision “expressly and directly conflicts” with the Supreme Court’s precedent “barring courts from departing from the plain meaning of a constitutional provision,” Redner’s lawyers added.

“Notwithstanding any determinations made by a patient’s physician, and regardless of the fact that the amendment purports to allow medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions, the decision holds that patients can be criminally prosecuted for doing just that,” they argued.

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