Jury Nullification vs. The Drug War: NJ Weedman on His Unlikely Marijuana Acquittal

"I should be 10 months into a 10-year prison sentence," says Ed Forchion aka NJ Weedman. "The only reason I'm standing here is because I happened to know about jury nullification. And I used it."

NJ Weedman, a medical marijuana patient fighting bone cancer and a pot legalization advocate, found himself in trouble after being pulled over by a New Jersey state trooper with more than a pound of marijuana in his possession, as well as a large sum of cash. This was  sufficient to trigger a "possession with intent to distribute" charge, and he faced up to a decade in prison if convicted. Because he represented himself and argued not for his innocence but against the morality of the law itself, NJ Weedman believes he was acquitted by "jury nullification." He was, however, found guilty of the lesser charge of "possession," for which he served a probationary term.

NJ Weedman sat down with Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller to talk about marijuana legalization, drug courts, and jury nullification and to give advice to others facing similar drug charges.

"I think by representing myself and speaking for myself, I put myself into a different category," says NJ Weedman. "I actually begged [the jury] to save my life."

Approximately 10 minutes. Camera by Sharif Matar and Paul Detrick.

Click below for downloadable versions.

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  • ||

    Congrats. It's a shame many jurisdictions prohibit argument in favour of jury nullification. Here in PA courts we aren't allowed to mention it at all.

  • Stevecsd||

    So PA Courts violate your First Amendment rights? This is the very place you need to have your rights to free speech in order to defend yourself. This is nothing but government censorship. So, if you mention fully informed jury rights in a court are they going to arrest you? Someone needs to fight that ban on a First Amendment rights basis.

    If the judge says he will put me in contempt, I would respond I object because you are violating my First Amendment rights. Anyone doing this needs to be able to deal with the consequences, but also fight it from a First Amendment stand point.

  • bassjoe||

    This actually is completely legal, according to the Supreme Court. Few (if any) states have laws protecting defendants from bringing up jury nullification arguments. Most defense lawyers can get sanctioned by the court for even mentioning that the prosecutor is wrong to say that the jury has a "duty" to convict.

  • Greendogo||

    That's why this Weedman guy advocates representing yourself. The court can punish a defense attorney, but they can't do anything to you. The worst thing that will happen to you is that you'll be found "guilty" in the end. There is no sense in keeping quiet about jury nullification.

  • wwhorton||

    I'm of two minds on jury nullification. On the one hand, there are some horrible laws that nonetheless pass legislatures, and a jury can be the last line of defense. On the other hand, the real problem is the law, and jury nullification not only weakens the rule of law generally but removes some of the pressure to fix the broken law in the first place. Sodomy, I'm lookin' at you.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Fuck the "rule of law".

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Laws don't make decisions, people make decisions. There can be no "rule of law", as "law" isn't real: you can't put one in a wheelbarrow, a law has no smell, no taste, no appearance, makes no sound, and you can't touch a law. People are always in charge, no matter what methodology they (say they)use: going with their gut, reading the chicken bones, referring to a constitution, etc.

  • Malvolio||

    What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -– man's laws, not God's -– and if you cut them down, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

  • umh||

    I do understand that repealing unjust laws is the best answer. I also know that if the prosecutors can't win they may quit pushing silly cases. And in any case I would not vote to convict anyone who I consider innocent.

  • bassjoe||

    Defense lawyers can be sanctioned by the court for bringing up jury nullification while prosecutors can spout off about how it's the jury's "duty" to convict if all the elements are there. American "justice" is effed.

  • chris3145||

    This is awesome news........am laughing my ass off about what that cop must be thinking lol

  • ||

    Love the clock. It's time for less laws instead of more.

  • Bean Counter||

    So, would you all be in favor of jury nullification if the jury decided to convict the guy of drug trafficking and send him away for 30 years? Jury nullification goes both ways. When I was a kid in the south, they practiced jury nullification all the time. "The interest of justice is not served by my cousin going to jail for teaching a colored boy his place." Sauce for the goose, etc.

  • Bean Counter||

    Because there already enough butt-ugly women in the world.

  • Bean Counter||

    Oops!! Posted to the wrong thread. Actually, a few hits off a bong might make them look better, come to think of it.

  • Major Pain||

    Wow, this would have been super to read. If, you know, it wasn't video pablum.

  • Edwin||

    I just love that this guy has such a Jersey accent. I want to get this guy a bacon, egg, and cheese one day at one of our local oh-so-Jersey quickstop deli/grill places

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