Sarasota News Leader

04/05/2013

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OPINION DON'T BOGART THAT BILL, LEGISLATORS! We were gratified at the recent decision by the State Attorney's Office not to pursue charges against Robert Jordan, the Parrish man who was cultivating marijuana plants in his backyard to benefit his wife, Cathy, who has suffered for years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Cathy Jordan is one of the 5 percent of ALS patients who survive 10 years or more with the disease. Most die within three to five years. She and her husband attribute her longevity to the use of marijuana. For years, the couple has had a dual mission: cultivating the marijuana she needs to survive and lobbying the Legislature to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. So far, they have been successful only with the former. Their current legal difficulties began when a building inspector next door spotted the plants through their fence and notified law enforcement. Sheriff's deputies who responded discovered the plants and confiscated them. However, after being informed by Jordan that the plants were for his wife's medical treatment, deputies did not arrest either of the Jordans, leaving it to the state attorney to decide whether charges should be filed. In early negotiations between Jordan's attorney and the State Attorney's Office, he was offered a plea deal that would have required him to stop cultivating the plant. He turned down that deal. While the State Attorney's Office could have charged him with cultivating the illegal plant, it would have faced a vigorous defense at trial. Despite there being no law that allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, "medical necessity" has been employed successfully as a defense in some court cases. The first such case was 25 years ago, when a Broward County judge acquitted a woman who was using marijuana to prevent glaucoma from robbing her of all sight, deeming it a "medical necessity." Other cases over the years have been decided in favor of defendants in similar circumstances, when the courts have allowed common sense and compassion

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