In a state where medical and recreational cannabis is still completely prohibited, a jury found Bridget Kirouac not guilty of cultivating cannabis plants. This heartening example of jury nullification is yet another indication that public opinion is firmly on the side of medical cannabis — and government’s war on drugs is being rejected.
Years ago, Kirouac was prescribed medical cannabis by a doctor in Maine to treat chronic pain where opioids failed. Maine has long acknowledged the healing power of cannabis, enacting their first medical legalization in 1999.
Florida, however, is still in a primitive state regarding medical cannabis, and Kirouac was forced to become a criminal to treat her medical conditions. She cultivated plants to produce her own medicine; for this she was arrested and charged with “manufacturing cannabis.”
Dr. Dustin Sulak, the Maine physician who prescribed her medical cannabis, flew down to testify in her defense.
“Many of the medications she failed because she couldn’t tolerate the adverse affects, some she failed because they simply couldn’t help her,” said Dr Sulak.
He went on to tell the Florida court, “I believe that this medication could relieve a significant amount of human suffering.”
Kirouac’s attorney, Michael Minardi, mounted a medical necessity defense that outweighed the “crime” which would have brought up to five years in jail. Thankfully, the jury sided with the defense, realizing that there is no crime here.
“[Kirouac] is now hoping this decision provides hope to others in similar situations. “They should not be prohibited from using it, they should not be prosecuted, brought to court, brought to jail in handcuffs like I was for hurting no one.”
Minardi was equally emotional after his successful defense, saying, “We’re talking about people’s lives here. We’re talking about suffering and dying people. And if you don’t have compassion for that…you’re not human.”
This is a great victory in that freedom was preserved for someone who simply used a medicinal plant and harmed no one, but Kirouac is still not free to continue using medical cannabis. She and her attorney are now turning their energy to the upcoming vote in November, where the people of Florida have a chance to legalize medical cannabis.
If it passes, Florida will join 25 other states that have embraced scientific knowledge and the advancement of freedom. The only crime being committed is the State continuing to lock people in a cage for utilizing the healing power of cannabis.
But there are powerful forces seeking to preserve this great injustice. As numerous states are set to vote on cannabis legalization this November, opioid drug makers are pouring money into campaigns to keep prohibition in place.
In Arizona, Insys Therapeutics donated $500,000 to a campaign opposing marijuana legalization. This pharma company makes huge profits from fentanyl, which is helping to drive an opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S. Insys, which is currently being investigated for marketing fraud, also happens to be working on a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The company has plainly stated that legal cannabis is a threat to their profits.
November will tell us whether the tide of public opinion can overcome efforts by Big Pharma and prohibitionist lawmakers to preserve the status quo of locking people in a cage for using a medicinal plant.
The jury nullification in Florida, on behalf of Bridget Kirouac, gives us great hope.