Despite being barred from presenting a jury nullification defense, it appears that a New Jersey jury did indeed utilize the legal theory to unanimously vote 12-0 to declare Ed Forchion not guilty of marijuana distribution. Mr. Forchion, known as New Jersey’s “Weedman”, had previously been found guilty of marijuana possession, but a jury was deadlocked on distribution, so a new trial was ordered to determine whether he was guilty of distribution after a pound of cannabis was found in his car.
Mr. Forchion, defended himself on the charge, arguing that his use was purely for his private medical purposes. Weedman attempted to utilize a jury nullification defense, but the presiding judge prevented him from doing so, threatening Mr. Forchion with contempt of court if he continued with such a defense. Luckily for Weedman, and justice, the jury didn’t need to hear an outright plea for jury nullification and delivered a not guilty verdict.
A jury found Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion not guilty Thursday in the Rastafarian activist’s marijuana distribution case.
The decision came after Forchion was nearly held in contempt of court in the morning as he delivered his closing argument.
Forchion, formerly of Pemberton Township, tried to introduce his jury nullification argument into the closing, but was quickly stopped by Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey, who had barred any discussion of it.
Jury nullification can always be utilized by juries when they feel that defendants should not be punished for actions, regardless if the defendant is technically guilty of a “crime”. The doctrine has been used throughout American history, notably when citizens were charged with helping free slaves and for selling alcohol during alcohol prohibition. It is great to see that more and more juries are understanding that they don’t have to convict non-violent, otherwise law-abiding citizens for possessing cannabis. The fact that juries are willing to defy our draconian laws against cannabis demonstrates yet another nail being struck into cannabis prohibition’s coffin.
Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition