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State Urges Supreme Court To Stay Out Of Pot Case

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Daylina Miller / Health News Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Lawyers for the state asked the Florida Supreme Court to stay out of a legal battle, at least for now, over whether a lung-cancer patient can grow his own marijuana.

Tampa strip-club owner Joe Redner this week asked the high court to step in while the dispute is under appeal.

A Tallahassee judge in April ruled that Redner should be able to grow his own medical marijuana for “juicing.”

Redner and his lawyers maintain that juicing is the best way to prevent his lung cancer, now in remission, from recurring.

Using a relatively unusual legal procedure, Redner’s attorneys Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to lift a stay imposed by the 1st District Court of Appeal and allow Redner to grow his own pot.

Redner’s lawyers want the court to invoke what is known as its “all writs” authority in the case, which contends that a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical cannabis allows patients to grow marijuana.

Redner will be harmed if the stay remains in effect, the 77-year-old’s lawyers argued. But in a response filed Friday, lawyers for the Florida Department of Health argued that the “all writs remedy” is “available only in a very narrow set of circumstances” and, in Redner’s case, doesn’t warrant the court’s intervention.

“While the department is not unsympathetic to petitioner’s medical condition, this is not an appropriate basis for invoking this (Supreme) Court’s all writs jurisdiction,” the state’s lawyers wrote in a 22-page response.

The health agency also argued that Redner’s attempt to get the Supreme Court involved “is improperly attempting to appeal the First District’s decision to reinstate the automatic stay.”

Even if the high court were to vacate the automatic stay, the agency’s lawyers argued, “there are no existing legal means for petitioner to obtain the seeds or growing plants he desires.”

The state also attacked Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers’ decision to allow Redner to grow his own pot, saying it would “upset the existing regulatory structure for medical marijuana in the state” and open the door to possibly “thousands of patients” to start home grows.

“The only way to prevent the proliferation of unregulated homegrown marijuana is to maintain the status quo” while the appeals court considers Gievers’ interpretation of the statute, wrote Amber Stoner and Jason Gonzalez, private lawyers working for the health department.