Tampa strip club owner and cancer patient Joe Redner is vowing to take his fight to grow medical marijuana for his personal use to the Florida Supreme Court.
Earlier this month, an appeals court sided with the state Department of Health and temporarily blocked Redner, 77, from growing marijuana. The stay came after a Leon County Circuit Judge ruled Redner was legally allowed to grow marijuana plants for juicing to help prevent a relapse of stage 4 lung cancer.
Speaking at the”Cafe Con Tampa” community forum on Friday morning, Redner said his lawsuit argues that the way Florida allocates licenses to growers keeps the multimillion-dollar medical marijuana industry confined to just a few companies, limiting competition and free enterprise.
“We’re going to go to the Supreme Court right away; we’re not going to wait,” Redner said. “It’s in the Constitution. I am a patient. I am supposed to be able to get my medicine. I can’t, so I’m going to make them let me have it.”
Friday’s event attracted several people running for local office, including Kim Overman, a candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission in District 7.
“He’s calling our state legislature on their attempt to thwart voters’ rights,” Overman said. “He’s not asking anyone to break the law. He’s asking for our legislature and our administration of our laws to be fair and to help people when they need the resources that cannabis provides.”
Redner’s lawsuit, filed last year, rests on a voter-approved constitutional amendment known as Amendment 2, which broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida in 2016.
But whole plants are currently not allowed to be sold at medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida.
In her April ruling, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers said the Constitution allows patients to have access to whole plants – and ruled that Redner could grow his own.
The ruling only applies to Redner, and doesn’t allow other medical marijuana patients to do the same. Redner said state lawmakers are holding patients back from their treatments.
“They’re not curious people, they’re set in their ways, they’re traditionalists, and they can’t get out of their box,” Redner said. “And the problem is they’re the high up people in this situation – the Mel Semblers – the guys who really can’t discern and can’t think.”
Redner isn’t the only one pushing back against the state. Orlando attorney John Morgan will challenge the state’s ban on smoking marijuana in court later this month.