A Tampa Bay strip club owner is suing Florida officials over how they have issued cannabis business licenses.
Joe Redner claims that Florida’s medicinal cannabis program has been set up in a way that is too restrictive–with only a small group of business owners getting access to the potentially lucrative industry. In a court filing that included statements from cannabis patients, Redner’s attorneys claimed that Florida’s cannabis licensing procedures are part of a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative scheme.”
Redner is arguing that authorities have intentionally licensed too few cannabis dispensaries and that this is both unfair to potential business owners looking to join the industry as well as patients seeking relief.
“The local dispensary regularly runs out of his medication for significant periods of time,” said a woman named Latoya, who serves as the caregiver for a man suffering from chronic seizures according to the Miami New Times “Purchasing medical marijuana from (licensed clinics) has been very difficult for me and my family because there are so few registered.”
In 2011, Redner was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was able to beat the disease and credits cannabis as one of the main reasons he was able to do so. Because of his experiences, he sued Florida for the right to grow cannabis himself last month after claiming the rollout of the state’s medicinal program has been dragged out. Amendment 2 was passed by 70% of voters in November of 2016.
Although Redner won the right to grow his own cannabis, the ruling only applied to him so other patients are not currently afforded the same right. Florida authorities have challenged the decision and his legal right to grow cannabis is in legal limbo.
Because there have been only a few shops approved and patients cannot grow their own cannabis, Redner feels prices for legal medicinal cannabis remain too high for many patients.
“There’s a lot of people in this state that are poor and can’t afford medical marijuana at the prices on the market right now,” Redner said. “They cannot afford it.”
In Redner’s current suit, he argues that the state has intentionally been restrictive when issuing licenses to ensure that only a small group of business owners benefit from the potentially lucrative industry. So far, only 13 licenses have been issued. Florida has no cap on how many cannabis licenses can be granted.
“They have no concern with how much marijuana is produced or how many store-fronts sell it, as long as it all remains in the hands of this small group of licensees,” his attorneys write in the suit.”Fundamentally, nothing in the Amendment authorizes the Defendants to promulgate laws and rules that impose an artificial cap on the number of [clinics] that may operate in the state,” they continued.