Jurors Can (and Should) Refuse to Convict in Marijuana Cases

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Paul Butler has an important piece in the New York Times reminding all of us that we don’t have to enforce unjust laws when we serve on a jury.

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer. [NYT]

Jury nullification is a critical safeguard against abuses of prosecutorial power in our criminal justice system, and Paul Butler would know. He used to be a prosecutor himself.

Taking your conscience with you into the jury booth is an act of patriotism, and it's something every citizen should know they have to right to do. It's becoming increasingly clear that Americans don’t want a war on marijuana anymore, and refusing to convict our friends and neighbors is one very strong way to make that sure that message is heard.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Even if you have to lie to get on the jury

It's a patriotic thing to do. There's a time to speak truth to power and a time to play games with the piglets. 

A little not especially friendly Christmas advice to prohibitionist Christians: If you want more people to have a Merry Christmas, please take your hands off peaceful cannabis users who aren't hurting any of you. Considering what your drug alcohol does, it's only common decency to call off your attack dogs before you do more damage of many kinds than you already have. 

Jesus hated hypocrisy, Christian alcohol supremacists beware.

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pot trials

I can agree with trying to swal the jury if its that type of trial but can;t agree withg saynotohypocricy about lying just to get on the jury. We want to get weed legalized or decriminalized in almost any way we can but lying about this subje3ct when we know we are in the right can only work aGAINST US. wE MUST SEE THAT ALL OF US WHO KNOW THE TRUTH ARE ON THE SIDE OF WEED. IT IS THE PEOPLE ON THE FENCE OR WHO ARE NeuTRAL ON THIS SUBJECT THAT WE must WIN OVER TO OUR SIDE. lYING WILL NOT DO THAT AND WOULD MOST LIKELY ALieNATE THEM AND WE LOSE. sO ALTHOUGH i HEAR WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM THINK IT THROUGH A BIT MORE ok BROTHER WE ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH

pot trials

I can agree with trying to swal the jury if its that type of trial but can;t agree withg saynotohypocricy about lying just to get on the jury. We want to get weed legalized or decriminalized in almost any way we can but lying about this subject when we know we are in the right can only work aGAINST US. wE MUST SEE THAT ALL OF US WHO KNOW THE TRUTH ARE ON THE SIDE OF WEED. IT IS THE PEOPLE ON THE FENCE OR WHO ARE NeuTRAL ON THIS SUBJECT THAT WE must WIN OVER TO OUR SIDE. lYING WILL NOT DO THAT AND WOULD MOST LIKELY ALieNATE THEM AND WE LOSE. sO ALTHOUGH i HEAR WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM THINK IT THROUGH A BIT MORE ok BROTHER WE ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH

That's a fair point, that lying over your willingness to convict

 to get on the jury for a marijuana case could antagonize people. My thinking is that if you explain later why you feel so strongly, and show that you're not being frivolous, people will more or less respect your feelings as a fellow citizen, and know deep down that you're right on how bogus the law is. The goal of the lie is to keep someone who doesn't deserve it from losing their liberty, and save the public some much needed money in the process, or help make sure that a violent criminal isn't released to make room in jail and in government budgets for a small time marijuana dealer. The irrelevance of cannabis prosecutions to the goal of fighting violence is I think understood by the majority of people, and insisting that jail space and public money be saved for violent criminals might appeal to those on a jury who can't see the civil liberties aspect of this.

Plainly telling the courtroom that you won't convict in cannabis cases (cause it's just too ridiculous or some such other pithy way of saying it, before you might get cut off) is patriotic as well. Enough people did this recently, in a Montana college town I think it was, to induce a prosecutor to drop a case.

My upcoming JURY NULLIFICATION TRIAL

On april 10th I go on trial in new jersey, currently im in los angeles please take a look at this link and consider support my defense. - This articles appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly last week - Regular PW/PN readers know it’s been tough times for NJ Weedman, aka marijuana activist/capitalist Ed Forchion. As we reported in December, the feds raided his Liberty Bell Temple and related growing operation two weeks before Christmas, and last month the Hollywood medicinal pot-shop closed for good. Meanwhile, Forchion’s facing the possibility of significant jail time if he’s convicted of a marijuana possession with intent to distribute charge stemming from a 2010 traffic stop in Mt. Holly, N.J., where cops found a pound of high-grade weed in the trunk of his rental car. His trial was originally slated for last October, but was moved to April 10 at the Burlington County Courthouse. Forchion, of course, isn’t going down without a fight. Or a spectacle. Along with his pit bull Cheeba, he’s hopping in his righteous airbrushed Weedmobile van for a cross-country, publicity-raising journey from California back to the Jerz (think of it as the stoner version of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley) to face a jury of his peers and try to wiggle out of his predicament by employing a longshot jury nullification defense. Weedman’s launching his voyage on March 20 (sure, 3/20’s not as ideal as 4/20, but what can you do?), and he’ll be tweeting (@NJWeedman) and hanging with his supporters along the way before rolling into Philly around March 28 to kick it here for a few days, rally his local supporters, maybe speak at the Nullify Now! convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on March 31, and probably just generally smoke a shit-ton of weed and party down around Philly in what could possibly be his last weeks of freedom if things go bad at the courthouse in April. Forchion just posted a video about his upcoming adventure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWRvhDXSZdo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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