Jury acquits grower who cited medical need for marijuana

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.

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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 could 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 and a partner with the Kelly Kronenberg law firm. 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.”

Minardi says there are still strong prejudices from judges and prosecutors when it comes to arguing a medical-necessity defense. As an example, the Stuart-based attorney points to a recent case in a Miami-Dade courtroom where a judge refused to accept Minardi's medical-necessity argument for a client who was an Iraq War veteran and used marijuana to soothe his PTSD symptoms.

“My client had recommendations for medical marijuana from doctors in three states, PTSD, bullets lodged in his body, muscle problems, and the judge is looking at me with a big smile on his face and says, 'I know other states have [legal medical marijuana], but there's nothing in Florida that I know of,'” Minardi recalls.

But that's starting to change. And with Teplicki's victory, the medical-necessity defense could provide more victories by giving juries – and maybe even a few judges – the chance to provide a common-sense solution until Florida's drug laws finally catch up to modern times.

Teplicki's case was the first time a jury ruled a defendant not guilty by way of a medical-necessity defense. But there have been four other cases in Florida history dating back to 1991 in which this defense was successful by a judge's ruling.

In the 1991 case Jenks v. Florida, Kenneth Jenks was an AIDS patient who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion and passed it along to his wife, Barbara. The medication they were taking caused rapid weight loss and nausea, but using marijuana alleviated these effects. Eventually, they were arrested and found guilty of growing a controlled substance, despite their medical-necessity defense. But the Florida court of appeals reversed the conviction on the following grounds, which set precedent for the next cases, including Teplicki's eventual win:

1. That the defendant did not intentionally bring about the circumstance which precipitated the unlawful act;
2. That the defendant could not accomplish the same objective using a less offensive alternative available to the defendant; and 
3. That the evil sought to be avoided was more heinous than the unlawful act perpetrated to avoid it. Marijuana's schedule I classification did not preclude the Jenks' proffered defense. 

Back in 1991, no states had medical marijuana laws on the books. But today, 23 states do, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, which means the defense is easier to prove. However, even if a judge accepts it, it's still difficult to argue because of the expense.

Minardi says a defendant must fly in a medical expert from out-of-state because few doctors in Florida are willing to testify about the benefits of medical marijuana. And the costs of airfare, hotel, and the doctor's time add up. And that's a shame, the lawyer adds, because many prosecutors and police officers he talks to don't even want to deal with marijuana cases.

"A lot of prosecutors tell me off the record that they hate trying these cases and cops hate making the arrests," Minardi says. "One prosecutor even told me his grandparent used marijuana for medical use."



Source: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/medic...

Historic News In Florida! Criminal Charges Dropped Against Medical Marijuana Patient.

A South Florida man charged with growing marijuana he claims he needs for a medical condition was found not guilty Monday.

Jesse Teplicki, 50, had been charged with manufacturing cannabis and was facing up to five years behind bars.

It took jurors just 30 minutes to return the verdict.

"A lot of suffering. I really felt here was somebody with a lot of issues, with a lot of suffering since he was nine years old," juror Mark Munzer said. "Everything was justified."

Teplicki suffers from a severe case of anorexia which suppresses his appetite and makes him nauseous. Broward Sheriff's Office deputies arrested him last year for the cultivation and possession of 46 marijuana plants.

Prosecutors had called into question the amount of pot plants for just one person, but jurors said it was a case about compassion.

"This was a groundbreaking case and we are very pleased that the jury acquitted Mr. Teplicki on all charges," said Michael Minardi, Teplicki's attorney. "The evidence showed he was using cannabis to help him manage a serious and painful medical condition which he has endured for years."

Teplicki is the first person in Florida to have a jury of his peers decide if he’s guilty or not of using marijuana as a medicine.

Can Marijuana Therapy Cause a Dramatic Reduction of Glioma Brain Tumor Cell Lines?

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 8:28 am by David Downs

The active molecules in cannabis kill brain cancer — another study has revealed.

Scientists using an extract of whole-plant marijuana rich in pot’s main psychoactive ingredient THC as well as cannabidiol (CBD) showed “dramatic reductions in tumor volumes” of a type of brain cancer.

“High-grade glioma is one of the most aggressive cancers in adult humans and long-term survival rates are very low as standard treatments for glioma remain largely unsuccessful,” according to researchers Katherine A. Scott, Angus G. Dalgleish, and Wai M. Liu from the Oncology Department at St. George’s University of London.

Writing in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics this month, the team recounts how they decided to build on existing research that shows “cannabinoids have been shown to specifically inhibit glioma growth as well as neutralize oncogenic processes such as angiogenesis.”

The researchers wanted to boost the success of cannabinoids, so they investigated using THC and CBD both alone and in combination with radiation in a number of glioma cell lines.

Marijuana kills cancer cells in proportion to its dose and duration of treatment, researchers found, and whole plant cannabis rich in THC was more efficacious than pure, lab-grade THC alone.

Moreover, pre-treating cells with THC and CBD for four hours prior to irradiation increased the cancer-killing effects of radiation.

Scientists think THC and CBD prime cancer cells to commit suicide when exposed to radiation — a process called apoptosis.

Tumors treated this way in mouse models for glioma showed “dramatic” results, with pot-treated tumors shrinking to nearly one-tenth the size of tumors in the control group.

“Taken together, our data highlight the possibility that these cannabinoids can prime glioma cells to respond better to ionizing radiation, and suggest a potential clinical benefit for glioma patients by using these two treatment modalities.”

The federal government states cannabis is a schedule one drug with no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. However, 23 states have medical marijuana laws, and untold thousands of patients with untreatable gliomas are turning to cannabis not only for palliative treatment of chemo nausea and pain, but as an adjunctive therapy for treating the cancer itself.

Patients who want to learn more about cannabis’ palliative uses can check out the new textbookIntegrative Oncology, written by the head of San Francisco General Hospital’s Oncology and Hematology Department — Dr. Donald Abrams.

Patients who want to use cannabis to cure their cancer are entering uncharted territory with few guides. Dr. Abrams said most doctors do not know about or understand the body’s endocannabinoid system, which was discovered in the ’90s. Americans and their doctors have been “terribly and systematically misled” about pot for decades, Dr. Sanjay Gupta stated this year.