“I’m not hurting anybody. I’m just trying to function, just trying to get through the day and be of some use to my husband.”
A medical marijuana patient was acquitted from charges that she possessed and cultivated marijuana in Stuart, Florida. The woman faced 10 years in prison for cultivation of cannabis she used to treat her severe neurological disorders. In spite of a Charlotte’s Web law in effect in Florida, she will now be prohibited from cultivating marijuana in her back yard. As Nevadans prepare to consider Amendment 2 this case illustrates how prohibition not only taxes the public judicial system but resulted in a painful two-year trial for a woman who deserved only compassion and the right to use the medication that helped her. In November Floridians will vote on an amendment to their constitution, also known as Amendment 2, that will provide broader medical marijuana rights.
Bridget Kirouac, 54, was arrested in 2014 after detectives followed her home from a hydroponics store. The following day police found about 20 plants (8 more than would have been allowed under Nevada’s medical marijuana law) along with some harvested weed and tincture. She had tried over 40 different medicines to treat her pain from bone spurs, fibromyalgia, gastritis, herniated discs, irritated bowel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and several other conditions. None provided relief like her home grown cannabis which she didn’t smoke but made into tinctures and other products.
Her attorney, Michael Minardi, of Palm Beach County, is an expert in the medical necessity defense in Florida. A key player on Minardi’s team is Dr. Dennis Petro, a renowned neurological physician who provides expert testimony in the medical necessity defense.
In his closing argument, Minardi paraphrased Kerouac’s testimony, saying, “I’m not hurting anybody. I’m just trying to function, just trying to get through the day and be of some use to my husband.”
He said he had rejected all plea offers from prosecutors because even the last offer before trial — to withhold adjudication and a $1,000 fine plus court costs, with no probation — would have left Kirouac, who had no prior criminal history, with a felony charge on her record.
Minardi, who said he has a half-dozen similar cases pending around the state, is now 2 for 2 in jury trials. One of those pending cases, still in the discovery phase, is in St. Lucie County, he said.
Minardi won an acquittal in March 2015 in Broward County for a Hollywood man charged in a similar case. That was the first time a jury in Florida acquitted a marijuana grower after finding a medical need for the illegal drug.
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