Jury Nullification

Jury Nullification Keeps NJ Weedman Out of Jail; DEA Comes Calling

Checking in on one man's war on the war on drugs


he had my vote

Last week, Ed Forchion, a.k.a. the NJ Weedman, was found not guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after being caught by cops in New Jersey with a pound of marijuana in his car. Formerly a perennial third party candidate in the state, the Weedman took his activism in support of legalizing marijuana to California, where he opened a medical marijuana dispensary. He was caught in New Jersey while visiting and wanted to use the trial to test New Jersey's recent medical marijuana law, which requires registration and purchase from one of six dispensaries in the state.  A pound of marijuana, because it is a lot of weed, automatically yields a possession with intent charge. The jury found him not guilty.

His California dispensary, meanwhile, had been raided in December by the DEA and, relentless, Forchion opened another one.  The feds, though, have kept their eye on the Weedman. The Philadelphia Inquirer's  Monica Yant Kinney explains his victory was short-lived:

"Two hours," Forchion gripes. "Two hours after I won, I got a call from the DEA in L.A. They had a 'Google Alert' on me. Sore losers."

…No federal charges were ever filed against Forchion, but the DEA still has his belongings. The phone call last Thursday was an invitation of sorts for him to stop by and pick up (some of) his stuff.

A day later, as Forchion remained in New Jersey, another DEA agent visited his new dispensary—the "United States Collective" conveniently located near the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

"I'll advise you to close by the end of business today," the agent reportedly said, "or we're going to launch another investigation and you'll be involved."

…I called the DEA Press Office in L.A. seeking comment, but Special Agent Sarah Pullen couldn't say anything about what she dubbed an "ongoing investigation."

"If Mr. Forchion wants to provide information, that is his choice."
Choice is one of Forchion's favorite words.

He chose to seek out an investor to open a second dispensary knowing the feds would come knocking and he could again lose everything.

He chose to put New Jersey's criminal statute up against the state's medical-marijuana law, to force jurors to question why a drug he can use legally in California to ease agony should cause him even more pain in the Garden State.

"You know," Forchion reminds, "I could still get 18 months in prison for being convicted of possession.

"I never denied that weed was mine. I admitted it."

You can't vote for the NJ Weedman for president this year, but there are at least a couple of candidates on the ballot that have admitted to drug use, Barack Obama, who's spent four years as president vigorously prosecuting the war on drugs, and another, Gary Johnson, who wants to end the war on, and legalize, drugs.

H/T Dan Pearson

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  1. Do we know it was jury nullification or did the jury just find him not guilty because the prosecution didnt prove it?

    1. “I never denied that weed was mine. I admitted it.”

      I think its pretty clear this was nullification.

      1. That is admission of possession, not of intent to distribute.

        1. Possession over an arbitrary amount automatically means intent to distribute!

          The law says so and the law is magic!

          1. Are you finished?

    2. One of the jurors (a member of the Free State Project) said that she had jury nullification in mind from the start, and convinced the other jurors to nullify.

  2. All laws are moral and just, otherwise they wouldn’t be laws.


    1. What? Tulpy has said some stupid shit, but I must’ve missed that one.

  3. If there was ever a candidate for profiling…

  4. I called the DEA Press Office

    Talk about a cake job; “We cannot comment at this time. Goodbye.”

  5. Does he get to keep his weed?

  6. In 1919, the 18th amendment was ratified. This gave Congress the authority to pass the Volstead Act, prohibiting alcohol on a national level. Without the amendment, the Act would have been unconstitutional, violating the 9th and 10th amendments. In 1933, the 21st amendment was ratified, repealing the 18th and the Volstead Act. Since the 21st, no amendment has been passed reinstating anything the 18th. The 21st returned control of intoxicants to the states.

    Since it’s unconstitutional for Congress to prohibit a substance, and no such amendment has been ratified, drug prohibition laws are simply unconstitutional. The claim of federal supremacy does not apply, since that supremacy already existed when Congress passed the 18th. As SCOTUS has stated in the past, an unconstitutional law is unconstitutional from inception, not from successful challenge.

    So constitutionally, it falls to the states to decide any intoxicant illegal. This brings us to the U.S. Code. 18USC241 242 make it a federal crime for any public official to violate the rights of any citizen. Official immunity wouldn’t apply to a law that only people with that immunity are capable of breaking. The federal statutes do not distinguish between state-level and federal-level rights. They criminalize violations of rights.

    As a result, if a state legalizes marijuana, it’s a federal crime for the DEA (or any other federal actor) to try to interfere.

    1. Except that EVERY level of government violates the law with impunity because, ‘Fuck you, that’s why’.

      In a perfect world, government would follow the law, even when it is inconvenient for them.

      But they utter cash cow of the WOD for police, lawyers, judges, and prison guards is more important that following the Constitution.

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