When you talk to law enforcement officers about medical marijuana users they will quickly tell you that "these are not the people we are after." It would be nice to believe them, but reality sets in when you see stuff like this.
For the first time in Florida history, a Broward jury acquitted a marijuana grower after finding he has a medical need for the illegal drug.
Jesse Teplicki hid nothing from the detectives who showed up at his Hollywood home two years ago acting on a tip that he was growing pot on the premises. And he hid nothing from the jury on Thursday when he took the stand at his criminal trial, even admitting that he smoked a marijuana cigarette earlier in the day to treat the nausea and suppressed appetite that had been plaguing him for decades.
Teplicki is the first defendant in Florida to argue medical need in a marijuana case. The jury of four women and two men deliberated for less than an hour before returning its verdict.
"You saved my life," a tearful Teplicki told three jurors who stayed in the courtroom after they were discharged by Broward Circuit Judge Michael Ian Rothschild.
Manufacture of cannabis is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Teplicki, 50, had rejected several plea offers, admitting his actions but referring to the plant as "medicine" he needs to function. Teplicki has suffered from anorexia since age 9, according to trial testimony.
Medical need has worked as a defense before, but it's never been tried in front of a jury. In two cases dating back more than 20 years, marijuana smokers have defended themselves at trial before a judge. In each case, the judge convicted the defendants only to see appeals courts overturn their decisions and order not-guilty verdicts.This story has a happy ending, but how much did this trial cost? How much did Teplicki have to spend on his defense? How much time and money were wasted?
Sick people are not criminals and it is time to stop treating them as such. Medical marijuana is good medicine. The Hippocratic Oath states, "first do no harm," and while medical marijuana has never killed anyone a person dies every 19 minutes from our 'safe and approved' pharmaceutical drugs.
Not allowing people a safer alternative is the real crime.