Jury Nullification: A Trend Whose Time Has Finally Come

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist October 25, 2012

A story out of New Jersey last week has demonstrated the simple yet unmitigated power of a jury of one’s peers in slowing and perhaps reversing over time the accelerating trend toward bureaucratic fascism in the United States and other Westernized countries.

The combination of unjust laws and regulations restricting the freedom to make simple choices about the foods one eats and the medicines one uses combined with an overzealous and frequently aggressive government bureaucracy has made it increasingly difficult for normal, tax paying, law abiding citizens to experience life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit as promised by the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution of the United States.

In New Jersey last week, a jury decided enough was enough. In a shocking 12-0 decision to acquit, the jury flexed its muscle and upended the state based marijuana laws which it interpreted as unjust as a result of the prosecution miserably failing to prove its case against Ed Forchion, aka NJWEEDMAN.

Mr. Forchion has been fighting New Jersey laws criminalizing marijuana for over 15 years claiming that he uses it medicinally. He faced a mandatory minimum of three years in jail and a $25,000 fine for distribution if the jury sided with the prosecution’s claim that the pound of pot and $2,000 cash found in his car were indicative that he was in the business of selling marijuana and not just using it personally.

Certainly, the number of joints Mr. Forchion could roll with a pound of pot seemed excessive for personal use alone – over 6,000!   But, the jury did not see it that way.

Instead they chose unanimously to let NJWEEDMAN walk free.  At the same time, these 12 intrepid souls trumpeted the rise of jury nullification – acquittal because a law is deemed unjust – amid a population increasingly weary of criminalizing common citizens for making personal choices about the food and medicines they choose to use.

Make no mistake.  This case is not about legalizing marijuana.  It is about a people that are fed up and drawing the line with an ever encroaching Nanny State.

More Jury Muscle Flexing: Farmer Acquitted For Delivering Raw Milk

In another important case of jury nullification in the state of Minnesota last month, 6 jurors ruled against the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and in favor of Alvin Schlangen, the farmer coordinator of the Freedom Farms Co-op.  The MDA confiscated the raw milk and other farm foods Mr. Schlangen was delivering to other co-op members in March 2011 and charged him with selling raw milk which was not on the farm’s premises (raw milk is legal for sale at the farm in Minnesota), handling farm food without the proper permit, and knowingly distributing “adulterated” dairy products.

According to USA Today, Schlangen argued that he’s doing nothing wrong because members of his co-op lease the animals that provide the raw milk, so there’s no purchase or sale.   He also said his club is a new design of a food system that “allows the consumer. . . to be involved in the quality of the food they’re getting, and not just settle for what’s there on the shelf.”

Amen Alvin.

6 jurors agreed and chose to find Alvin Schlangen not guilty of the three misdemeanor counts in the heavily anti-food choice state of Minnesota.

These two important cases in the span of a few short weeks in completely different areas of the country show that the trend toward jury nullification is clearly on the rise and not a moment too soon!

As news of the success of these cases spreads rapidly via social media and other alternative news outlets, an increasing number of ordinary, freedom loving citizens will become emboldened to rise up against the tyranny of an overly powerful executive brand of government that is squashing individual initiative as demonstrated by the likes of Mr. Schlangen and the personal choices of individuals such as NJWEEDMAN.

Could it be that the plain, unassuming envelope which periodically arrives in the mail notifying citizens of an upcoming date for jury duty actually signifies a contribution to the preservation of freedom in the United States to an even greater degree than the voting booths many will visit next month?

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  Jury Upends Marijuana Law, NJWEEDMAN Walks Free

Picture Credit 

 

Comments (35)

  1. Awesome post, Sarah! I’m 26 years old and I frequently wonder how this country has gotten to the place it has. Over 100 years bouncing between the Republicrat parties and things still steadily decline. I mean, really…there are only so many laws our government can make before they start getting into nitty-gritty details of people’s behavior and once they get into the nitty-gritty details, they have to watch you at that level of detail as well so they can catch people breaking those laws. I truly believe that humanity deserves and needs to live in ultimate freedom. We need the freedom to make whatever choices we want without infringing on others’ rights. The next four years are going to be very important no matter who wins this sham of an election.

    Reply
    • @ Brooke: [quoting you]: ” I truly believe that humanity deserves and needs to live in ultimate freedom. We need the freedom to make whatever choices we want without infringing on others’ rights.”[end quote]

      Yeah, that’s what the Native American’s thought 250 years ago, too, and look what happened to them. Our gubment writes words on paper and immediately forgets them. The treaties they made with the Native’s didn’t mean a thing to them when they were written because our gubment never intended to carry through and keep their word. Liars right from the start. We have an ex-president and Veep who should both be in jail (along with a number of their other cohorts in crime) but we don’t bother with that. The European nation is taking a very hard, long look at it, however. That speaks volumes about the corrosion in this country. Money talks now (where trinkets used to work with the Natives), there’s just no way around it.

      This country is in bigger trouble than losing a few food rights, although the guy from NJ who won the pot battle was able to get some justice so that’s a little bit enlightening. We have 40 miles of bad road to go, though. It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take brave jurors and fights in the street before it’s all said and done, I’m afraid.

      Reply
      • D, I agree that we’re facing major trouble, but I do think that the food rights issue is key not only because it’s a non-partisan issue (everyone eats and everyone should have the right to access wholesome food of their choice) but because the big food companies, pharmaceutical companies and chemical companies are now one and the same. They have merged into corporate mega-giants that wield huge leverage on politicians, governmental agencies and legislative bodies everywhere. Any victory on this front, such as Alvin’s discussed above, is a big deal.

        Reply
    • Jane, they do not protect us from anything. A former head of the FDA, David Kessler, said that their job was to protect corporate profits, not the safety of the American people.

      He tried to change that, but he has been out of office for a long time.

      Reply
  2. The courts are VERY worried about this phenomenon. I know of at least one case where the chief judge of a circuit ordered the arrest of anyone handing out FIJA materials outside the courthouse. The somewhat ironic charge: jury tampering. That’s rich, coming from a system that goes out of its way to keep the jury from having all the information it needs to make an intelligent decision!

    Reply
  3. Bravo! Well, in a way the jury did rewrite the law. It all depends on the facts of the case, and the trial court (circuit court or supreme court of the state). It would be good to see a case like this one hit the federal supreme court and see the one bring the cause of action against the fascist government and win.

    Reply
  4. My understanding of history and the political process is different than yours.

    The bad guys are corporations – Big Pharma and food corporations. They make billions from for-profit medicine and pseudo food.

    Then they use their war chests to buy the government. Monsanto and Bovine growth hormone and GMOs have been protected every step of the way because Monsanto owns congress critters. Vaccines are protected from lawsuits. Fracking cannot be sued in Pennsylvania. This is what ownership of government gets ya.

    There are @100 lobbyists for every congress critter. And campaign contributions. And gifts and junkets.

    Those bad laws did not come from “the government”. They came from ALEC and other corporate interference.

    If we want the government to support us, we have to elect people who are not corporate lackeys. I refuse to vote for anyone who is a member of ALEC, or who schmoozes with corporate fundraisers. I vote for people who support people – and corporations are NOT people.

    Reply
    • You can scrutinize political candidates ’til the cows come home, but you have no way to ensure that their votes don’t get bought. You’re right; criminal corporations buy the legislative process, get laws written to protect their market share, and pay for votes to pass those laws. Then they get their peeps appointed to key positions (e.g. former Monsanto exec as Obama’s FDA chief) to “enforce” those laws. What can We the People do to protect our rights against that kind of political machinations? JURY NULLIFICATION is one of the few areas in which we can fight back.

      Reply
  5. Now if only the states would remember that they, too, are allowed the tool of nullification against unconstitutional federal laws and mandates… Keep your state budgets trimmed and be prepared to forgo federal handouts.

    Reply
    • Manny – interesting study, and thanks for sharing. Sadly, I just have to guess that, instead of legalizing marijuana, Big Pharma will be looking to develop a drug that “synthesizes” the positive effects of M. If they keep it illegal, then more money in their coffers with their nasty drugs. There’s no money for big pharma in legalizing pot.

      Reply
  6. I can bet my life that NJ Weedman is white. Thousands of black marijuana users & sellers are rotting in prison right now. We are paying for their “room & board”. And they won’t be able to get a job when they get out, because they have a criminal record.

    Reply
  7. Alvin is my farmer and I attended part of his trial. I am thrilled with his not guilty verdict, but unfortunately I don’t think the verdict had anything to do with jury nullification. The jury did not stand up to the judge’s instructions (they were expressly told that they had no business determining if a law was unjust. They were told to determine if Alvin had broken it). They simply decided that Alvin was not guilty of breaking the law. So, unfortunately this was not an example of jury nullification, which would have been an even bigger victory for us. But we are happy for the victory we did get.

    Reply
  8. I salute the juries in both of these cases for their courage and their belief that people do have a right to medicine and food of their choice. In most states, a person charged with a marijuana (cannabis) offense can’t use a medical defense.
    I have been called for jury duty twice, but never chosen to set on the jury, but I have always believed in jury nullification since it first came to my attention in the early 1980′s.
    Judges are not obligated to tell a jury of this part of the law and if you so much as mention jury nullification you will be jailed for comtempt of court and arrested. Whether you are a defense attorney or anyone else. Thank you Sarah for posting these stories.
    The government wants to impose censorship on it’s citizens and tried to ruin Oprah Wimfrey for speaking out about bad beef and anyone else would have been convicted and
    lost everything they had just for voicing a personal opinion about what they eat or do not eat. I’m not a fan of Oprah myself, but I am an ardent supporter of the first amendment.
    I remember the cases where milk farmers were sued to keep them from advertising their milk as hormone free and stopped from testing their own cattle for mad cow disease. We have to take our freedom back from the government so-called experts who want to tell us what to eat and who to buy our food from and what medicine to take. Freedom and personal responsibility start at home with what we eat and how we buy or sell for ourselves and our families and friends. Just say no to government and coporate censorship and lies. Not all corporations are bad and not all government officials are corrupt, but we need to exercise our freedom to vote and vote for people who believe in freedom and respect our values.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Jury Nullification: A Trend Whose Time Has Finally Come | CookingPlanet

  10. Sara,
    I really like most of your blogs, but these comments seem to have a lot of naivete as to what the marijuana promoters are all about. Alvin Schlangen and Raw milk is one thing, but marijuana users want followers and it’s simply about money. They regularly flaunt their disregard of the public and of children, trying to use them.
    http://www.thoughtful-living.org/2012/10/24/marijuana-legalization/changing-marijuana-from-schedule-i-to-schedule-ii-can-bring-addiction-equality/

    Reply
    • As a productive person who occasionally avails himself of cannabis, for wholly legitimate reasons I needn’t justify to you – and as one who knows many, many other similar people – I take issue with your statements. The allegations you make, and have linked to, are so wildly detached from reality that I see no utility in trying to disabuse you of your preposterous fantasies. But your accusation that cannabis users “regularly flaunt their disregard of the public and of children…” is vile, baseless, offensive slander. The DEA approvingly referenced in your linked article does more to harm children than any quantity of cannabis users ever have. And I don’t think the readers here who follow that link will fail to observe that it just rehashes the same tired nonsense, and makes no attempt to back up its claims with anything resembling facts… which it obviously cannot, as they stand contrary to its premise.

      Reply
  11. I fail to see how intentionally inhaling large amounts of smoke can help anyone’s lungs, not to mention marijuana’s effects on the brain.

    Reply
    • Laura,
      You’re absolutely right. It’s a joke that he’s playing on all of us to suggest it helps with asthma. Obviously, Forchion had a good lawyer. Besides that is the fact that marijuana is either decriminalized, or not prosecuted in most of the US. Most people who smoke pot don’t get caught at all, so he obviously was trying to get caught to make a point, which wastes a lot of our time.

      Reply
      • You both have made intelligent comments. I personally do not consider
        “Mr Weedman’s (is that name a joke?) verdict as a victory or glorious in any
        manner. Marijuana clinics are perpetuating dependency and people should be wondering why these people are in such need to begin with ….
        Using this case as an example turns me off. I would love to see the caring, holistic people doing something about healthcare in this country. It’s out of control. Politicians
        don’t get it…. we need to become responsible for our own health and be preventive. Unfortunately, most people want to be taken care of by the govt and those are the ones who demand more and more legislation to care for them …. to provide more and more social services… Observe, please, all the socialistic (marxist) countries that are collapsing around us. We are heading the way

        Reply
        • Bianca,

          I could not agree with you more about the nurturing of dependence that comes from the marijuana clinics. It is sad that we’ve created the industrial system into our foods that have helped to create the auto-immune diseases. Prevention is everything! You are right!

          Reply
  12. There are many ways to use cannabis without smoking. Edibles, tinctures, oil you can massage onto an injury. Just like transdermal magnesium therapy. Smoking does get it into your lungs faster and into your blood stream faster. There are devices called vaporizers that utilize the medicinal use without the ill effects of smoking and the tars and carcinogens inherit with smoking. When I see people who have brain tumors still alive years after they were supposed to die and current medical science can’t help them, I’m glad they have this alternative. Some people always abuse medicine for their own profit. The FDA and the pharmacuetical companies do it all the time, but it’s legal for them. There are as many lies about cannabis as there are about prop 37. Personal responsibility and education are the key.

    Reply
  13. Many alternative medicines and diets keep people with canceralive longer than accepted. Its sad, though, if you’ve follow the case of a little boy named Cash Hyde in Montana. His father had been treating his tumor with hemp oil and claimed hemp oil had cured him of cancer. Then the cancer came back this year. He is barely staying alive, getting a lot of love from his parents. Love, as much as anything, can keep people alive. Even though his parents were deceived by the phony propaganda of marijuana, they are getting quality time with him, but it’s apparent that hemp oil will not keep him alive.

    Reply
  14. This little boy would have died a year ago without his parents intervention. No medicine can keep people alive forever. They either extend their life or in the case of chemo and radiation they prolong their suffering and death. If the cannabis was just propaganda, when this boy was in critical condition and the medical establishment had told the parents there wasn’t nothing they could do, he would have been dead then.
    Thank God his parents love him enough to give him a natural medicine and not let his life be consumed with the pain and nausea of poisons like chemo and radiation. You remind me of the FDA when they wanted to send a doctor Burzynski, ( probably spelled wrong) to prison for 99 years for treating a little boy and saving his life with medicine that the FDA did not think was acceptable. Not with cannabis, but with other alternative treatments. The child is now a teenager or adult, thanks to this brave doctor who tried to heal and not injure or kill.

    Reply
    • The point is that the parents’ love is keeping him alive, and the touch and the holding. They could have substituted it with a placebo and it would work as well. If you follow the story, they are having less hope now.

      Remember the tumor returned for a 3rd time, after Cash Hyde’s parents said the hemp oil had cured it. Alternative medicines have much to offer, but everyone I know treated with marijuana for cancer dies. I just wish they’d stop saying it’s going to save a life……..prolong a life because one has hope, yes that is possible.

      Reply
  15. Fully Informed Jury Association (www.fija.org) provides some excellent resources for citizens wanting to inform their friends, family, cohorts about jury nullification. I have been supporting them since having an disturbing jury service experience. They distribute pamphlets, books, videos, etc.

    Reply

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