In January 2013, an anonymous tipster lead authorities to the home of Jesse Teplicki. Broward Sheriff's Office deputies found 46 marijuana plants there. Teplicki was promptly arrested and charged with a felony count of possession. Prosecutors gave him a probationary offer to keep him out of prison. Teplicki turned it down, because the marijuana he was growing was not so he could deal it or simply to get high with, he claims. The marijuana was for healing. Teplicki has suffered from severe chronic anorexia since he was a child.
Without the marijuana, Teplicki, 50, says he has no appetite and suffers from severe stomach pain. But with the help of cannabis, Teplicki's appetite is stimulated. The marijuana also reduces his nausea. Teplicki says his marijuana is medicine. And he is ready to prove that to a jury of his peers.
"Jesse didn't want to take the prosecution's offer because he's a family man, not a criminal," Teplicki's attorney, Michael Minardi, tells New Times. "He leads a good life and is a good family man. The marijuana is for medical reasons."
Teplicki says that to treat the disorder as a child, he was given anabolic steroids, which worked for some time. But continued use of the steroids caused liver scarring and cysts, as well as serious side effects. Teplicki then began using cannabis as a form of treatment instead, allowing him to live a pain-free, normal life. When all medicines either failed or made things worse, marijuana has helped and healed.
Minardi says they're counting on the several hours of testimony from Dr. Denis Petro, a board-certified neurologist who has conducted clinical trials, testified and written extensively about the medical benefits of marijuana.
In 2011, Boynton Beach resident Jeffrey Kennedy began growing marijuana to treat severe back pains after an accident. Cops found 26 marijuana plants in Kennedy's home after he called them to investigate a break-in at his house. Kennedy was arrested on charges of trafficking and of cultivating marijuana plants. Minardi represented Kennedy at the time and had ample evidence to show he needed marijuana for medicine. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case before it went to trial.
Teplicki's trial is set to begin February 23.
"Of course, it's up to the jury to decide," Minardi says. "But we obviously believe Jesse wouldn't be alive today if not for marijuana."