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Jurors Fight Back Against the War on Medical Marijuana

Submitted by smorgan on
Further proof that railroading medical marijuana defendants in federal court has consequences:
Two jurors who convicted two Modesto men of running a criminal enterprise in connection with a medical marijuana dispensary want the defendants to get a new trial.

Jurors Craig Will of Twain Hart and Larry Silva of Tollhouse say they wouldn't have found the men guilty had they known the penalty was 20 years to life in prison.

They said a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about medical marijuana led them to believe the crimes weren't that serious.

Ricardo Ruiz Montes and Luke Scarmazzo are scheduled for sentencing Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Their attorneys also will argue a motion for a new trial. [San Francisco Chronicle]

It is just an inescapable reality that these medical marijuana show trials infuriate jurors and provoke bad press. After suffering multiple humiliations in their years-long crusade against Ed Rosenthal, you’d think federal prosecutors would have cut this charade out already:

Rosenthal was convicted of violating federal drug laws, but seven of the 12 jurors said afterward that their verdict would have been different if they had been allowed to consider evidence about the medical use of the marijuana and Rosenthal's status as an agent in the Oakland program. They requested leniency for Rosenthal.

Last April [2006], the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 3-0 ruling that Rosenthal was entitled to a new trial because one of the jurors improperly sought outside advice about the case. [San Francisco Chronicle]

5 years after his arrest, Rosenthal was given a 1-day sentence, time served. That’s what happens when federal prosecutors turn the law into a political weapon, perverting justice to the point that they themselves become the enemy in the eyes of the jury. First Rosenthal’s jurors lobbied for leniency, until one eventually confessed to misconduct and provoked a retrial.

That’s what you get when the drug war divorces itself from public morality. The American people don’t believe in criminalizing medical marijuana providers and they cannot be counted upon to cooperate cheerfully with political prosecutions. If anyone’s been wondering why the DEA doesn’t go ahead and try to take down every dispensary in California, well, now you know.

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