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Medical Necessity Established in Broward County Court; Jury Rules Medical Marijuana Patient “Not Guilty” on all Counts

(Miami Beach, FL) - Today a jury in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, Florida ruled that Ft. Lauderdale resident, Jesse Teplicki, was “not guilty” on all criminal charges surrounding his medical use of marijuana for the treatment of his chronic anorexia. Michael C. Minardi, partner at the Kelley Kronenberg law firm and longtime medical marijuana advocate, successfully argued Mr. Teplicki’s medical necessity defense in front of a jury of his peers. Today’s verdict is groundbreaking in that it is the first time that the “medical necessity” defense was successfully argued in a jury trial, since Florida courts established the defense over 20 years ago.

Florida for Care Executive Director, Ben Pollara, reacted to the verdict with elation, “This verdict that Mr. Minardi won for Jesse Teplicki is a game changer on the eve of the start of the 2015 legislative session. Legislative leaders in Tallahassee now have to look at medical marijuana through the lens of this precedent established by a Florida jury, in addition to the 58% of Floridians who voted for medical marijuana at the polls last November.”

He continued, “the medical use of marijuana is no longer solely a political issue with wide popular support, it is legal precedent in Florida courts. This ruling should be a message to the legislature that they should act this session on establishing a medical marijuana system in our state so that sick and suffering Floridians don’t have to fight in court for the right to use the medicine recommended by their doctors, as Mr. Teplicki did today.”

Florida for Care legislative director, Dan Rogers, said the following about the impact this ruling could have on pending legislation in Tallahassee, “What was established today was not just medical necessity, but the principle that this is a determination best left to a doctor. Mr. Teplicki would still have had to fight for his rights in court under the House version of the pending legislation in Tallahassee. This case demonstrates the argument we have been making: a law that only includes patients suffering with one of a defined list of diseases as eligible for medical marijuana is simply not an effective law. Doctors must be able to recommend marijuana for debilitating symptoms as well.”

This verdict was handed down less than 24 hours before the beginning of the 2015 legislative session in Florida. Currently, bills have been filed in both chambers of the Florida Legislature to allow the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. Jesse Teplicki would only qualify for the medical use of marijuana under SB 528, filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Florida for Care will advocate throughout this legislative session for the passage of a law, like SB 528, that would help sick and suffering Floridians, without them having to fight for their liberty in court.

Florida for Care will spearhead legislation in March of 2015 in Tallahassee, setting the standard for what the state’s medical cannabis system should look like and how it can function most effectively. Such a system must balance three core principles: first, safe, affordable patient access; second, a tightly controlled state regulatory structure; and third, a robust, free market commercial enterprise.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please call Vanessa Moffatt at 954-529-7145 or email her at press@floridaforcare.org.


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