It started in 1986 with a puff of Myakka Gold marijuana on Bradenton Beach.
Cathy Jordan was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and given no more than five years to live. She came down to Florida from her home in Delaware with the goal to end her own life.
She wanted to see the beach and smoke some pot before she took a handful of muscle relaxers that would numb her pain once and for all.
But after a few hits on the beach that night, she suddenly felt better. She went home to Delaware and told her husband, Bob Jordan, about her experience. Little did they know, the couple had become a part of something bigger.
“I didn’t believe her,” Jordan said. “But as we got more aware of it, we found out when she has cannabis she’s better. And when she doesn’t have it, she’s sick.”
Twenty years later Cathy Jordan, who has been living with ALS, has become the face of a movement for medical marijuana. More specifically, smokable medical marijuana — a ban on which was repealed by the Florida Legislature and quietly signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday. There was no public signing of the bill, which also establishes a research consortium, allows products like bongs and rolling papers to be purchased and requires a second opinion from a board-certified pediatrician for non-terminal patients under age 18. The change in law is effective immediately.
But long before DeSantis took up repealing a ban on smokable pot, Bob Jordan was growing and perfecting the strains that would work best for his wife of 37 years.
It’s a daily routine that’s lasted as long as Jordan can remember.
After he gets Cathy out of bed, cleaned up and dressed in the morning, she sits at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and two marijuana cigarettes. She sips. She smokes. She coughs.
The cough is key. It brings up the phlegm that accumulates in her lungs, a process for which some ALS patients use a special vest-like device.