M.D.M.J.

The Juice is Loose!

Green thumbs are up over court-sanctioned possession

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The primary objections raised to Amendment 2 when it passed in 2016 were twofold: 1) Passage of medical marijuana was just a hop, skip and jump from the end-game of full legalization for recreational purposes; and 2) The process would lead to the empowerment of a new, largely ungovernable crop (in every sense of the word) of commercial vendors.

Both concerns were entirely understandable, as pro-pot activists have made no secret of their long-term goal of greasing that slippery slope leading to recreational usage, a process that's already begun, though it seems unlikely to make state ballots this year. Meanwhile, Florida has seen millions of dollars in sales in just the first year; those numbers are certain to grow in 2018. Ducats have been divvied up fairly evenly among large firms and smaller independent vendors, but the impact on black-market sales remains unclear.

A new retail front was opened just last week, when Florida Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled in favor of Tampa's Joe Redner, 77, who sought state sanction to grow his own marijuana. The April 11 ruling gave Redner permission to grow plants not for smoking, but for juicing, as part of his regimen for fighting stage-4 lung cancer, since the raw plant is not legally available yet.

"Based upon the clear language of the Amendment," she writes, "and the lack of any credible evidence as to why the Amendment should not be given that effect ... Plaintiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, solely for the purpose of emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician." (He can't share his plants or the juice, of course.) She also declared the state's Department of Health, tasked with implementing Amendment 2, "has been, and continues to be, non-compliant with the Florida Constitutional requirements." That's a boon to activists who've inveighed against the inefficiency of the certification process for both doctors and patients, and view full legalization as the easiest way to circumvent the current bureaucracy.

One key question that went unaddressed relates to exactly how much he's allowed to grow. His doctor recommended he drink eight ounces of liquid daily; that's a whole lot of biomass. Likewise, the question of what he's allowed to do with the waste product, which has a variety of uses-ranging from compost to adding extra roughage to assorted edibles and cosmetic goods-was never addressed. Nor was it made specific what his options are for scoring seeds-also illegal to sell in Florida. Having set the legal precedent for patients to produce their own crop for personal use, it stands to reason that they must now buy seeds from out-of-state vendors, which exposes them to potential federal pushback.

"Contrary to the Constitutional language, the Department has not defined the amount of marijuana reasonably presumed to be an adequate supply," Gievers writes, "despite the mandatory nature of its constitutional duty to do so ... . It has without the duty to do so, attempted to limit access of qualifying patients to various methods of administration by not approving [Medical Marijuana Treatment Center's] registration requests." She further accuses the state of outright lying on its website, posting that patients aren't allowed to possess or use "growing plants, even though the plain Constitutional language is to the contrary."

This is a direct attack on the state's credibility on the issue, and it opens the door for patients to—as they say in pro-wrestling—go into business for themselves. Be warned: If you try this yourself, even with a medical card, you will probably be arrested. But have no doubt—even as we speak, patients around the state are prepping to be the first test cases for this new precedent.

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