Florida High Court Dismisses State’s Challenge To Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense

The Florida Supreme Court let stand today a decision allowing seriously ill patients to raise the defense of “medical necessity” against criminal prosecution if they are using marijuana medicinally.

“This is a pivotal decision for the thousands of patients in Florida who need marijuana to relieve pain and suffering,” said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. “Without the protection offered by this defense, patients would be subject to harsh jail sentences for using the only medicine that helps them.”

The Court dismissed a petition by the state to overturn an appeals court ruling affirming the defense. Florida courts had previously exempted glaucoma and AIDS patients from criminal prosecution because they demonstrated a bona fide medical need to use marijuana.

The defendant in this case, George Sowell, cultivated marijuana to treat glaucoma and combat nausea. NORML Legal Committee member Grant Shostak of St. Louis, Missouri, filed an amicus curaie brief for The NORML Foundation in support of Sowell.

For more information, please contact Grant Shostak of the NORML Legal Committee @ (314) 725-3200 or R. Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.