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Raid on ALS patient's home spotlights fight for medical marijuana

A medical marijuana plant is shown at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle.
Published Feb. 28, 2013

One of the suspects in this case is dying.

She is in her 60s, and confined to a wheelchair.

One of the other suspects is her caretaker.

He is also in his 60s, and a disabled Vietnam veteran.

This husband-and-wife crime wave were at their home in Parrish, just across the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Manatee County, when deputies arrived Monday afternoon.

It seems a real estate agent had been checking out a house next door when she spotted marijuana plants growing in the back yard of Bob and Cathy Jordan.

Several deputies, detectives and undercover narcotics cops in ski masks later, two mature plants and various seedlings were confiscated, and the case was turned over to the State Attorney's Office to determine if charges are to be brought against Ma and Pa Jordan.

This would almost be comical if Bob was not worried it might lead to his wife's death.

Cathy Jordan has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and has depended on marijuana to combat the progressive nature and many of the symptoms of her disease.

"I know it's against the law, and I know the cops have a job to do. But I have a responsibility, too, and my responsibility is taking care of my wife,'' said Bob Jordan, a retired steel worker. "They don't have to tell me this is serious. To us, this is life-and-death serious.

"I'm not backing down. If I have to go to jail, I'll go to jail. Just because something is illegal, doesn't make it morally wrong. My wife is dying! She's dying, man.''

Unbeknownst to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the people they were investigating have been leaders in a push to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes in Florida.

On Wednesday afternoon, two days after the incident, Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, filed the previously planned Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act (SB 1250) in the Senate.

Clemens has filed similar bills the previous two years in the House and has essentially been ignored by his fellow legislators.

Even though 18 states have passed medical marijuana laws, and recent polls indicate Florida residents are overwhelmingly in favor of it, Clemens has little faith that his legislation will pass this year. His hope is that it will at least be discussed in a workshop and pick up momentum for sometime down the road.

"What is the public purpose of this policy? Is this the best way to use law enforcement resources?'' Clemens asked. "We are spending billions of dollars investigating, arresting, prosecuting and then housing people for small-time drug offenses. It's mind-boggling.

"The hope is that by regulating medicinal cannabis we can at least eliminate the senseless cases like this one in Manatee County.''

In the meantime, the Jordans are talking to an attorney and hoping the State Attorney's Office decides this is not a case worth pursuing.

They're also worrying about Cathy's health because they say cannabis is the only drug that has alleviated her depression and muscle issues while also helping with her appetite.

"This is her medicine. It's that simple,'' said Bob Jordan. "The problem is people are prejudiced against cannabis because of the tie-dye, hippie, bulls--- image.

"They don't have a cure for this. And none of their legal drugs ever did a thing for her.''

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