Joe Redner, 77, a strip club owner in Tampa was given the permission to grow his own cannabis plants for medical use.
This court ruling was decided by Judge Karen Gievers of Leon County Circuit on Wednesday and only applies to Redner. But lawyers believe that this could lead to an influx of similar cases.
Florida’s Department of Health quickly responded and filed an appeal.
The health department said that the residents of Florida are prohibited from having cannabis plants in their homes for personal use.
Currently, the state has rules that bar Floridians from growing cannabis in their properties. The law includes registered medical marijuana patients.
Redner with other medical marijuana supporters across Florida says that the health department is still creating blockages and making it hard for anyone to access marijuana-related services. As of this moment, there are more than 95,000 Floridians who are registered as medical cannabis patients.
Redner is a registered medical marijuana patient and a survivor of stage 4 lung cancer.
“Under Florida law, Plaintiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, solely for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician,” Judge Gievers said after her court decision.
“Solely” was specifically emphasized with an underline and was on bold for emphasis in the written document.
Judge Gievers also added that the court found out that Florida’s Department of Health has been non-compliant with the constitutional requirements in Florida. She was specifically referring to the constitutional amendment that legalized medical cannabis.
The amendment was approved by the voters in Florida in 2016.
Luke Lirot of Clearwater was Redner’s attorney. She agrees with the Judge of Leon County Circuit that the health department must be called out for their actions against medical progress.
Lirot said that while the court decision is only for his client’s case, it will provide a good and usable example for other patients. They can follow the approach done in Redner’s case and appeal to their doctors that certify that having marijuana in your backyard is indeed of value.
For the meantime, the health department’s appeal will stop the 77-year-old club owner from growing cannabis right away. Because of this, Lirot will have to try to lift the motion that prohibits his client in planting and using cannabis in the process of appeal. This will most likely begin late 2018 or potentially in the first quarter of next year.
Jay Wolfson, a Morsani College of Medicine and Stetson University College of Law professor said that the appellate proceedings will have to take a long while. Wolfson was also concerned that the long duration might affect the life and health of Redner.
The professor believes that it will have to go to the supreme court no matter who wins or loses in the appeal process because of the severity of the case.
January this year, Judge Gievers denied Florida’s Department of Health’s motion to reject the Redner case. At the same time, Redner’s motion for a provisional emergency injunction was also denied.
The temporary plea requested by Redner’s side appealed to grow cannabis plants in his garden while the court is deciding on his case.
Although she denied Redner’s appeal, she said that it was constitutional in nature. This allowed for the case to carry on.
In the ruling by the judge, she wrote that the state’s 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 law”.
Last month, in a non-jury trial, lawyers that represented the Florida Health Department warned the attendees that the case of Redner could open more trials against them over the constitutional amendment language.
As of the moment, several lawsuits have been already filed against the department. The only difference Redner’s case had to those lawsuits was that Lirot and associates particularly challenged the agency’s interpretation of the amendment’s language.
Wolfson called the pending cases and this breakthrough of Redner’s side against the state’s health department a legal quagmire.
“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,” said Joe Redner. “The cat is out of the bag. There’s no way to stop this now.”