A 54 year-old woman was found not-guilty of cultivating marijuana Friday by a circuit court jury in southern Florida, who delivered the verdict despite the woman’s testimony that she had grown the marijuana plants she had been accused of growing.
Bridget Kirouac, who told jurors that she suffers from bone spurs, fibromyalgia, gastritis, herniated discs, IBS and more, was arrested in May 2014 by Martin County Sheriff’s deputies who followed her home from a hydroponics store in Stuard, Florida. After following her home detectives returned the next day with a search warrant and found in the neighborhood of 20 medical marijuana plants in various stages of growth as well as an undisclosed amount of dried, harvested flowers and some cannabis oil tincture.
In her testimony Thursday morning Kirouac said she has tried no less than 40 different prescription medications, none of which have alleviated her pain. In some cases, she says, the side effects were worse than the medical condition she was trying to treat. She also stated that she had tried low THC cannabis oil, which is legal in Florida for certain conditions, but had not found any relief. The only thing that would allow her to live a somewhat normal life, she said, was smoking cannabis.
Medical necessity defense
Kirouac did not deny that she grew and smoked marijuana. She told the truth to detectives and the jury, arguing instead that she had exhausted all of the options that modern medicine offered her without any relief. This was enough for the jury to acquit Kirouac by way of a Florida law that allows patients to assert a medical necessity defense.
Michael Minardi, Kirouac’s attorney, 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. “This as a more difficult case because Martin County is typically a much more conservative area than Broward,” Minardi said. He said after the Broward County verdict, a judge in Martin County told him he “would never get an acquittal in Martin County.”