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Jury Nullifies in "NJ Weedman" Marijuana Trial

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #756)

A Burlington County, New Jersey, jury acquitted longtime marijuana legalization and First Amendment gadfly Ed Forchion, better known as the NJ Weedman, on charges he possessed marijuana with the intent to distribute last Thursday after he told jurors he needed marijuana for medicine and that they had the right to vote to acquit him despite the facts in the case.

Ed Forchion prepared for his first trial this spring (
The facts in the case seemed like a slam-dunk for the prosecution. The Weedman got caught with a pound of pot in his car after being stopped by a state trooper two years ago in Mount Holly and admitted it. People caught with that amount of marijuana (and even much smaller amounts) are routinely charged -- and convicted -- of possession with intent to distribute.

During the three-day trial, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano told the jury New Jersey law prohibited the possession of large amounts of marijuana and it should easily convict Forchion. "It's straightforward," Luciano said.

But Forchion, who now resides in California and holds a California medical marijuana card, argued that New Jersey's marijuana laws conflicted with its medical marijuana law, which was approved before he was arrested.

The Weedman ran into trouble with Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey, though, when he brought up jury nullification -- the argument that jurors are free to vote as they wish despite the facts in the case. When Forchion brought up jury nullification, Delehey stopped him, warning that he could be held in criminal contempt if he continued. Delehey also told jurors they were to decide the case only on the facts, not on what they think of the law.

In his summation, prosecutor Luciano echoed the judge, asking jurors to not use their verdict to show their "opinion on the war on drugs."

The jury deliberated for two hours before coming back with a unanimous not guilty verdict.

"I'm not a weirdo anymore, I'm a hero," a jubilant Weedman told supporters and reporters after the verdict. "Other patients should start using the Weedman defense."

The case was a retrial. In his original trial stemming from the traffic stop, the jury convicted him of simple marijuana possession, but was unable to reach a verdict on the more serious charge of possession with intent to distribute. Forchion said he will appeal the possession conviction.

Forchion's courtroom antics also included telling the jury he was eating marijuana-infused cookies while he delivered his summation and asking Judge Delehey to order his "medicine" returned in the case of a not guilty verdict. Delehey refused, saying it was "contraband."

Prosecutors had no comment after the jury's decision.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Mark Mitcham (not verified)

Whatever other fronts we might choose to attack prohibition, we must all NULLIFY

drug cases as jurors, when called!  The war on drug users will end if prosecutors

cannot convict anyone.

Remember, it doesn't take 50 percent, it just takes one juror!  Be the change you seek!

Fri, 10/19/2012 - 7:40pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Very significant moment in history here. 

This started happening shortly before the end of prohibition. 

The whole community became sick of prohibition and it just became more and more difficult to get convictions through the courts. 

Remember your rights when you do jury service.

The end of prohibition is very close.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 2:07am Permalink
Bill Combs (not verified)

In reply to by Paul Pot (not verified)

Actually, this issue arose in the 1700's in a case against Peter Zenger, a newspaper publisher, who was tried for published remarks critical of the government.  This was during a period when we had "alien and sedition" laws that proscribed such.  The jury refused to convict, indicating they did not agree with the law.  The judge jailed the jurors for a time before finally relenting.  However, following that acquittal, the Courts instituted their own rules directing that jurors were only to "follow the law" as instructed by the Court, and determine only whether the defendant committed the offense charged.  As a result, if a juror disagrees with the law as applied to a particular defendant, their only course is to contend that the prosecution failed to prove their case "beyond a reasonable doubt." 

Thu, 10/25/2012 - 1:23pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

If only the jury at Aaron Sandusky's trial could have been so honest.  He's facing 10-life in prison for no good reason as he was following state laws.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 4:00am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Looks like sanity just may be the prevalent mental state if this continues.Obama knows that the demon weed opens the eyes to the BS factor.That's why he's done his 180.He knows we're on to him and wants to limit the damage.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 9:41am Permalink
mexweed (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

which Obama 180 are you talking about, etc. Do you agree with this: Hold Nose, Vote Barry, keep pressing for incrementals, work on local initiatives etc., reform "Electoral Cullage" by 2016 etc. 

Meanwhile link all your friends to that Oct. 16 Huffington Post article: In 1993 Romney's Bain Capital Made $100,000's advising Philip Morris on Strategy to Get Highschoolers Hooked on Nicotine (right before a steep rise in CANNABIS ARRESTS  disappointed Clinton supporters).  Officially released $igarette industry contributions: in 2011-12, Romney over $112,000, Obama barely $20,000.  (That doesn't include $millions donated  through "$igarets United SuperPACks"...)

Bain allegedly advised Philip Morris that a price drop in Marlboro, publicized just the right way, would attract kids-- "Price makes a difference!".  Today Philip Morris and the other corps trust Romney more than Obama to help use "Law Enforcement" as up to now to keep cannabis growers' and suppliers' costs high maintaining the huge PRICE DIFFERENTIAL between cannabis ($200/oz) and tobacco (two $igarette PACks, usually 40 x 700 mg = 28 grams net weight, still under $20) steering millions of kids who "smoke something" for social status, membership etc. toward nicotine addiction.

If Obama wins, remember what he did last time to mend fences-- Hillary for Sec. of State-- and urge him to appoint Romney Czar over a US-led Worldwide Campaign to Exterminate $igarette smoking and save 6,000,000 lives a year.  This is the kind of thing God has told Mormons to do and accordingly the Church operates Stop-Smoking clinics. The technological solution is to convert all 1.2 billion "smokers" TO VAPORIZATION, which includes (a) vaporizers, (b) e-cigs and (c) the art or technique of vaporizing with a cheap hand-made one-hitter (google "How to Make Smoke Pipes from Everyday Objects").

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:23pm Permalink

Jury nullification was instrumental in ending the prohibition of alcohol. It is the Jury's regardless of how the Judge and prosecution feel about it.

The US century old war on drugs is not a war against intoxicating substances. It's a war against people--usually people of color--and the ultimate expression of Fundamentalist white Protestant prerogative power, exported to the world.

Wed, 10/24/2012 - 2:16pm Permalink
Josh Blowter (not verified)

I don't believe we should be fighting to repeal prohibition.  No one has the right to harm others who have harmed no one.  Everyone doesn't have the right to harm someone who caused no harm.  He was denied his right to confront his accuser in front of a jury of his peers.  There was no one that the prosecution could bring in front of the jury to say "He harmed me!"  This was not a murder trial.  The state was not acting on the behalf of someone who couldn't be in the court room.  The state was acting as the accuser in place of ALL OF US.  He harmed NONE OF US.  Don't repeal prohibition.  There is no need once you understand that they don't have the right to harm you because you haven't harmed anyone else.  It comes across as the state telling me to stop not harming you.  Fine, peaceful potheads will do as you all wish and STOP NOT HARMING YOU so that you won't harm us. That is what they want then that is what they should get.  If The People claim the right to harm someone who hasn't harmed anyone else then every one of the People retains that same right.  Apparently we all have the right to harm others who have not harmed us or anyone else.  Didn't wear my seatbelt?  Going to harm me for not harming you?  Cool, I'm going to do the same.  Smoked pot in the privacy of my own home and didn't harm you?  If you want to harm me for not harming you with my pot then I get to harm you for not harming me by eating McDonald's.

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet to be purchased at the price of being forced to pay thugs with guns to harm others who haven't harmed anyone?  Forbid it!  I know what course the rest of the country chooses, but as for me?  Give me liberty, or give me death?  If you are willing to kill me to keep me from not harming you then why would you expect any different from me?  Don't repeal the drug laws, reinstate liberty.

Thu, 10/25/2012 - 1:27am Permalink

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