Tampa businessman Joe Redner has lost the latest round in his attempt to grow his own medical marijuana for juicing.
But the strip club owner known for battling the government says he plans to appeal the decision by the First District Court of Appeal.
Redner has a doctor’s orders to juice marijuana to keep his stage 4 lung cancer at bay. He says it’s kept him in remission for seven years.
“Stage 4 lung cancer, 4 percent live past five years,” Redner said.
He believes the cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), within the plant are medicinal. But to have the greatest affect, the plant must be fresh, not the dry flower that is sold in dispensaries for smoking and vaping.
“Go to any juicing regimen – it can be for tomatoes, it can be for carrots, it can be for anything – it’s fresh,” he said. “Half of the value of the vegetable is in it being fresh.”
It would also be cost prohibitive to try to juice marijuana purchased from a dispensary, he said.
“I can afford it, I’m a multi-millionaire,” Redner said. “But how is a poor patient going to get their medicine when it’s going to cost them $250 or $300 a week or $400 – whatever these cartels want to charge you for it because there’s no competition.”
Redner says the amendment that legalized medical marijuana allows patients to possess a plant, “whether growing or not.” But three judges on the 1st District Court of Appeal had a different interpretation.
It overturned a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who last year gave Redner the go-ahead to grow marijuana for juicing purposes.
“I want to possess a plant growing or not and the seeds thereof, which the amendment says, and they acknowledge the amendment says I can do,” Redner said. “So I don’t understand the ruling. It doesn’t make any sense. It ignores 100 years of precedent or how to interpret the constitution and what to do with it in situations like this.”
But the court found that Redner’s interpretation of the amendment “is not supported by the plain language of the Constitution and renders portions of the Constitution meaningless.”
The amendment allows qualified patients to “acquire, possess, use, deliver, transfer, and administer marijuana in amounts that do not conflict” with Florida Department of Health rules, judges T. Kent Wetherell and Scott Makar and Associate Judge Monica Brasington wrote in Wednesday’s eight-page order.
“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 ruling said.
While the amendment outlines specific permission given to medical marijuana treatment centers that are licensed by the state to operate pot businesses, there “is no explicit language authorizing qualified patients to grow, cultivate, or process marijuana,” the judges found.
“Had the drafters intended for qualified patients to be able to cultivate or process medical marijuana, that language would have been included in the definition of medical use; it was not,” they wrote.
Redner has 15 days to ask the court to rehear the case. He plans to change attorneys and then decide whether he will ask the court to rehear the case or possibly appeal to the Supreme Court.
Over the past few decades, Redner has successfully taken on city, county and state governments.
But he says he's not fighting the law because the constitution is in his favor.
“The law is righteous,” Redner said. “It's the people administering the law that have all these prejudices and really are incompetent that I'm fighting. Not the law. I have the utmost respect for the law, believe me.”
The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.