You say marijuana, I say tomato: Joe Redner keeps fighting for ‘home grow’

Joe Redner

Comparing marijuana to tomatoes, Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner‘s lawyer has asked an appellate court to allow his client to start growing and ‘juicing’ his own medical marijuana.

In a 49-page filing, docketed Friday, attorney Luke Lirot told the 1st District Court of Appeal to leave in place a lower court’s decision that Redner, a 77-year-old lung cancer survivor, has an immediate right to ‘home grow.’

The state’s Department of Health appealed both Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ decision earlier this week for Redner and her order to lift an automatic ‘stay‘ of the ruling while it’s under appeal. 

His doctors say juiced marijuana is the “optimal” way to keep Redner’s cancer in remission. The owner of the Mons Venus strip club also is a vegan.

Lirot argued Gievers didn’t “abuse (her) discretion” by making the effect of her ruling immediate, and that the state wouldn’t be harmed by Redner starting to grow his own medicinal cannabis. He also said Redner has a “substantial likelihood” of winning the underlying appeal.

In fact, he said “the Department’s execution of its responsibilities in the area of medical marijuana has been plagued by delays, obfuscation, and a refusal” to issue regulations under the state’s constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016

Lirot also noted the amendment uses state law’s definition of marijuana as “all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not, (and) the seeds thereof.”

“Amendment 2,” he wrote, referring to the amendment’s 2016 ballot number, “does not prohibit, in any way, a qualified patient from possessing a ‘growing plant’ for personal medical use.”

As to the state’s argument that only licensed medical marijuana providers can possess growing plants, Lirot compared them to tomatoes.

“Tomatoes come in many forms — raw, chopped, diced, stewed, pureed, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and growing tomato plants,” the filing says. “Each … is used for a different purpose but they are all understood to be tomatoes.

“…A citizen may possess a growing tomato plant in his home, but this does not make him a manufacturer of tomato products or establish he is engaged in commercial tomato cultivation,” Lirot added.

Gievers’ prior order limits Redner to no more than eight ounces or raw marijuana daily, based on his doctors’ recommendations. It applies only to Redner, and allows him to “possess, grow and use marijuana” only for juicing.

Devin Galetta, the Department of Health’s interim communications director, said it “fully expects Judge Giever’s ruling to be reversed on appeal.” The department regulates medicinal cannabis through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


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