MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Seventy percent of Floridians approved the medicinal use of marijuana -- except state law prohibits smoking the drug.
A Manatee County couple has joined the statewide lawsuit against the smoking ban led by Tampa attorney John Morgan.
Kathy Jordan says smoking is the most effective and only method for patients like her.
Her husband, Bob Jordan, rolls and lights a joint for her. The ALS doesn’t keeps her from doing it herself.
As Bob holds a marijuana cigarette to Kathy’s lips he says, “This isn’t something we want to do. We have to do. This is life or death for Kathy.”
She has been living with ALS for 31 years.
“She’s the longest living patient we know of in the U.S., maybe the world, without a feeding tube or respirator,” says Bob.
What’s kept her alive?
“Cannabis!” Kathy replies.
“If she doesn’t have it, she gets sick," her husband says. "If she has it, she’s better. High quality of life for somebody with ALS that’s supposed to live three to five years … she’s outlived her expiration date."
Kathy smokes one or two joints a day sometimes less.
Kathy says, “If I smoke daily I don’t have muscle locking at all, it stops my twitching… makes my throat stronger.”
She and her husband have the legal documentation allowing them to use marijuana for medicinal reasons.
Bob says smoking marijuana does what dozens of medications can’t do for an ALS patient like Kathy. “It’s a muscle relaxer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, all combined into one. That’s why they’re afraid of it -- (there's) no one medication does this.”
And smoking in its purest form is the only way John says cannabis works for Kathy. They’ve tried vaping — the legal method he uses.
“There’s a base in here they mix with it makes her gag. She can’t gag -- it can kill her,” says Bob.
That’s why the Jordans have joined the People United’s lawsuit fighting the smoking ban on marijuana.
“Common sense will tell you that’s what people voted for, but common sense is not common in Tallahassee,” says Bob.
What does he want to say to state legislators? “Stop acting like doctors.”
“My dream is to go to the drugstore (and) have my prescription filled with cannabis because it’s medicine,” adds Bob.
Instead, the Jordans have permission to grow their own marijuana at an undisclosed location.
“Here’s my message to legislators: If you don’t do your damn job you’re going to lose it. Seventy percent of the people want it; they’ll remember who goes against it,” says Bob.
Kathy says she stopped listening to her doctors -- many of whom have retired or she’s outlived -- and started listening to her body. She says she knew cannabis is the medicine for her.
“I have pretty much a good life,” she says
John Mills, with the law office of Boies, Schiller and Flexner is handling the lawsuit by the People United. Mills says Kathy is “a wonderful example of courage and necessity.”
Mills expects to hear from the state soon. He’ll know next week how many patients have joined their lawsuit.