Florida State Attorney Drops Charges Against Bob and Cathy Jordan

  • by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors April 4, 2013

    Today I share with you wonderful news from an all too conservative state, Florida, where the sun shines on everything but justice for cannabis users.

    Just a few weeks ago, I announced that the ‘New NORML’ would have an active, working legal committeethat would make a difference for all of us.

    Last month, State Senator Jeff Clemens in Tampa announced that he was introducing a medical marijuana bill in Florida, which would allow for the establishment of dispensaries in our state.

    The bill was named the ‘Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act’, in honor of a woman who has beenopenly using cannabis as medicine for over a quarter century, championing our cause from her wheelchair while living with an incurable condition- ALS; Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    Backed by her loving husband, Bob, who cultivates two-dozen plants on their farm for her personal use, Cathy has been a public advocate for cannabis law reform. Here she is:

    One day after the state senator introduced the medical necessity legislation, publicizing her name and address, the DEA and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office paid her a not-too-polite visit, raiding her home, dressed in swat uniforms, armed with machine guns and wearing masks, seizing her cannabis and arresting her husband for cultivation. Her wheelchair was no defense.

    One NORML lawyer from our NLC legal committee immediately stepped up to the plate to come to her defense. Florida CAN, the Cannabis Action Network, contacted Michael C. Minardi, of Stuart, Florida. He undertook the defense.

    Michael had already prevailed on a medical necessity case on the west coast of Florida, and he at once met with Bob and Cathy Jordan. Both were adamant that they would take no pleas, but instead sought to fight for their right to use marijuana as medicine.

    Based in South Florida, I volunteered with another NLC Committee member, my law office partner, Russell Cormican, and entered into a civil retainer agreement with Cathy Jordan, to prosecute a pro bono civil legal action seeking a declaratory judgment that Cathy’s possession of cannabis warranted a judicial order stating that such ownership was entirely medicinal and lawful.

    I could not do it alone, so I contacted NLC Committee member Matt Kumin, who immediately agreed to join the cause on behalf of NORML, coming in as amicus curiae. “This is an impact case,” he concluded.

    Together, we decided that we had a viable claim Cathy had a legal right to grow her medicine, and a court would conclude as much. Matt brought in two more NLC colleagues, Alan Silber and David Michael. These guys are already arguing tough cases in the Ninth Circuit. But we have a good plaintiff and a strong case.

    This past Monday, the State Attorney dismissed all charges against Cathy and Bob Jordan. The decision by the State Attorney, explaining why he filed a ‘no information.” ratifies the defense of medical necessity for patients, and caregivers as well. The prosecutor’s determination goes beyond the customary and routine post of ‘case declined.’

    The decision outlined by the chief prosecutor goes out of its way to acknowledge the legal basis of the medical necessity defense and the ‘progressive, neurodegenerative disease’ that Cathy Jordan deals with daily. The state attorney said he could not in ‘good faith’ proceed with a criminal prosecution against an individual with such a compelling medical reason to use marijuana. It was a courageous decision to see a prosecutor protect a pot patient.

    The result came about in no small part to Bob Jordan, Cathy Jordan’s husband. He refused to accept a probationary plea offer. “If I could handle Vietnam,” he told me last week, “I can take whatever the State wants to try and hit me with. I am protecting my wife. No deals. No nothing. I want a trial. I want a jury to see my wife and try to convict her.”

    Michael C. Minardi and his client even refused to cop a plea to a deferred prosecution. Matt. Kumin, who has never met Bob, called him, “my hero.” Armed with solid case law, a determined defendant, and a courageous lawyer- Michael Minardi- the good guys prevailed.

    A talented team of NLC amicus curiae attorneys are now preparing to go to court and seek a judgment declaring that the use of cannabis by Cathy Jordan should continue as an exception to Florida drug statutes, based on her use being lawful, medically necessary, and legally protected. Hell, we might even get her pot back through a replevin action.

    Unfortunately, Florida is a conservative state. I won’t mislead you. The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Bill is already ‘stuck like chuck’ in a legislative committee.

    However, also due to the efforts of NLC Committee member, Michael C. Minardi, the criminal prosecution of Cathy and Bob Jordan is dead in the water.

    Remember the TV show, ‘The Naked City,’ that ‘there are 8 million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them.’

    My friends, there are thousands of Cathy Jordans across America who still need our help. There are hundreds of you capable of assisting so many of them. The spiritual rewards of engaging such tasks enrich your soul and make your practice so much more meaningful.

    Please consider also asking a friend to help expand ranks by joining NORML today. In fact, this week we are promoting new memberships by offering up a NORML Hemp Baseball Cap. Wear it to the ballpark, and let everyone know that it is NORML to smoke pot. Cheer for your home team, but stand up for freedom.

    Today, all of us throughout the country celebrate the victory of Cathy and Bob Jordan. We also thank the lawyer, Michael C. Minardi of Stuart, Florida, who stood up for them.

    We are all cannabis warriors with stories of our own to tell, lives of our friends to illuminate. Never forget the cause you are fighting for is more than to torch up a joint. It is to light a torch for personal sovereignty and individual freedom.

    Thank you.
    Norm Kent
    Chair, NORML Board of Directors

    45 responses to “Florida State Attorney Drops Charges Against Bob and Cathy Jordan”

    1. TDub says:

      This makes me dance with joy and gives me hope. Bob and Cathy Jordan are heroes on SO many levels.

    2. joann says:

      i am a florida resident. i have watched the demise of many of my favorite people in the whole wide world get addictided to pill mill oxycontin, prior to oxycontin, they lived prosperous lives with a future ahead of them. now until they decide on their own to quit oxy’s they are losing everything. sad times in florida. the laws of the pill mills is murdering young men and women, babys are being born addicted. these patients are lead to believe they need this 90 mg of oxy a day, by actual docs. profits are through the roof for doc, and pharms.its a plague throught the east coast thanks to florida. to know these bright wonderful people who have turned into people someone who has nothing and may die is harming masses of people. its an all for profit plague on mankind created by mankind, not flee’s but dirty rat people

    3. Max Lives says:

      I look forward to the time a year from now, when the laws in Washington and Oregon fully take effect. We will see a substantial brain drain, a movement of the most talented and creative people away from the more backward states and into those that allow medical and recreational use. When that effect becomes too obvious to ignore, it may hasten the process of the other states and eventually Washington D.C. repealing prohibition.

    4. Clay says:

      As a former assistive technology professional I have worked with thousands of neuro and SCI patients throughout the years that have benefited from cannabis. This great drug helps these folks with tone and spasticity issues as well as stimulates appetites where there may be little to none. The ugly little secret is that doctors in Texas already recommend it to their patients. Why was the DEA at Cathy’s house? Because they don’t want to lose their money, or should I say “OUR MONEY” that they receive in their budgets. I have had it with these clowns. Keep up the fight anywhere and everywhere you can. Work on the elderly to understand this issue and push the conservatives to respect individual freedoms. Just because many enjoy their medicine doesn’t make it wrong!

    5. Dillon says:

      I was wondering if this type of defense could possibly be used in Pa.I have a recommendation to use marijuana from a doctor for chronic testicular pain that has also left me in a wheelchair.I was wondering if this could be a viable defense for someone like me in Pa where there also hasn’t been much movement in the mmj area?

    6. Galileo Galilei says:

      I found this a rather uplifting story.

    7. bobwv says:

      Shed a tear I did.


    9. Anonymous says:

      Asked my delegate-wv if law makers were human beings. Gave him this link then asked did he shed a tear.

    10. Closet Smoker says:

      So glad to hear that at least one injustice has stopped. But there are so many more who need help. Free the weed, it is illegal only because of racist monopolistic men of power that got their way 70 odd years ago……..