“Medical Necessity” Defense In Marijuana Cases Still A Battle In Florida, But More Victories Possible

FLORIDA:  When a Broward County jury ruled that 50-year-old Jesse Teplicki was not guilty of growing marijuana earlier this month because his need for medical cannabis outweighed the crime of actually growing the still illegal plant, cannabis reformers rejoiced. The victory meant a precedent was set and more victories cold follow.

But arguing the “medical necessity” defense in Florida has been difficult – and still is, despite the widespread acceptance of marijuana as a medicine.

“Most of the time, prosecutors have not heard of this type of defense,” says Michael Minardi, Teplick’s defense attorney. Minardi has been defending marijuana cases since 2009 and has attempted the medical necessity defense on several occasions, but was often shut down.

“I have to educate them about the defense,” he says. “And judges have refused because they show a bias against this type of defense.”