Maybe This Is The Way The War On Marijuana Ends

In ‘jury nullification’, a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her. Until our national politicians show some backbone on the issue of marijuana law reform, it’s one of the only ways to avoid imposing hideously cruel “mandatory minimum” penalties on marijuana users who don’t deserve to go to prison.

A rural Illinois jury has found one of their peers innocent in a marijuana case that would have sent him to prison. Loren Swift was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and he faced a mandatory minimum of six years behind bars.

According to Dan Churney at MyWebTimes, several jurors were seen shaking Swift’s hand after the verdict, a couple of them were talking and laughing with Swift and his lawyer, and one juror slapped Swift on the back.

The 59-year-old was arrested after officers from a state “drug task force” found 25 pounds of pot and 50 pounds of growing plants in his home in 2007. The Vietnam veteran walks with a cane, has bad knees and feet and says he uses marijuana to relieve body pain, as well as to help cope with post traumatic stress.

This jury exercised their right of jury nullification. Judges and prosecutors never tell you this, but when you serve on a jury, it’s not just the defendant on trial. It’s the law as well. If you don’t like the law and think applying it in this particular case would be unjust, then you don’t have to find the defendant guilty, even if the evidence clearly indicates guilt.

In jury nullification, a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her. There is intense pressure within the legal system to keep this power under wraps. But the fact of the matter is that when laws are deemed unjust, there is the right of the jury not to convict.

Jury nullification is crucially important because until our national politicians show some backbone on the issue of marijuana law reform, it’s one of the only ways to avoid imposing hideously cruel “mandatory minimum” penalties on marijuana users who don’t deserve to go to prison.

Prosecuting and jailing people for marijuana wastes valuable resources, including court and police time and tax dollars. Hundreds of thousands of otherwise productive, law-abiding people have been deprived of their freedom, their families, their homes and their jobs. Let’s save the jails for real criminals, not pot smokers.

The American public is very near the tipping point where a majority no longer believes the official line coming from Drug Warrior politicians and their friends at the ONDCP, gung-ho narcotics officers protecting their profitable turf, and sensationalistic, scare-mongering news stories used to boost ratings. They are starting to see through the widening cracks in the wall of denial when it comes to marijuana’s salutary medical effects on a host of illnesses and its palliative effects for the terminally ill and permanently disabled.

People are coming to realize that not only have they been sold a lie when it comes to marijuana–they’ve been sold a particularly cruel lie, a self-perpetuating falsehood of epic proportions that has controlled U.S. public policy towards the weed for 70 years now. The extreme cruelty of the lies told about marijuana by drug warriors is in the effects this culture of fear and intolerance has in the real world–effects like long prison sentences for gentle people who are productive and caring members of society.

Because citizens are coming to this long-delayed realization, we are going to be seeing more and more cases like this where juries have chosen not to punish people for pot. As this consciousness permeates all levels of society, it is going to get harder and harder for prosecutors to get guilty verdicts in marijuana cases–and that’s a good thing.

Maybe this is how the war on marijuana ends… Not with a bang, but a whimper, as cousin T.S. would say.

What You Can Do

If you ever serve on a jury where the defendant is accused of a marijuana crime, don’t forget about jury nullification. Tell the other jurors you don’t have to convict, even if all the evidence points to guilt, if you don’t agree with the application of the law in this instance. And if you can’t swing your peers to your way of thinking, at least you can cause the jury to return a hung verdict.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Drug Policy

Change The Climate: Time to Tell the Truth About Marijuana

Drug Policy Alliance: Alternatives to Prohibition and the Drug War

Marijuana Policy Project

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

“Jurors should acquit, even against the judge’s instruction… if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.” ~ Alexander Hamilton, 1804

“It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court.” ~ John Adams, 1771

– Article from OpEdNews.



  1. smitty on

    It is true that it is highly unlikely, and probably impossible that a judge will allow an attorney to raise the issue of jury nullification.

    There is another way…the defendant-and his allies-can do an end run around the kangaroo court via the First Amendment.

    I had plans to do exactly that in my cannabis case in 2002. I published and printed 10,000 copies of an informative booklet with the intent of mass-mailing them to every household in my county, in order to attempt to educate potential jurors.

    Because I witnessed enough corruption on the part of the court, the police and the prosecutor, to demonstrate that a fair trial was just a fantasy, as well as other critical considerations, I abandoned the plan and ended up doing a plea-bargain in order to avoid the possibility of prison for myself and a loved one. In return for my guilty plea to a reduced felony, and a six-figure check presented to the Sheriff’s office, I was able to “purchase” the dismissal of charges against my loved one (baseless charges that acted as an incentive to make a deal with greedy corrupt authorities) as well as a suspended jail sentence and two years probation for me. The whole sordid story could easily be book length…

    It is also possible to utilize print/radio/television advertising to educate the jury pool, as well as just offering printed information to people as you circle the courthouse on the sidewalk. Exercise that First Amendment as much and as well as you can afford to.

    Here is a bit of information from my booklet:

    Today judges in all criminal cases, federal and state, tell the jurors at the end of the case before they leave the courtroom to vote, “you are here to judge the facts, you must obey the law as I give it to you.”
    That is a lie.
    Neither constitutional nor legislative enactment so states. All “jury instructions” in criminal cases are merely helpful suggestions. See United States v. Norton, 846 F.2d 521 (8th Cir. 1988).
    Judges are always careful to conceal this fact from juries. Most jurors think this is the “law,” though this was never the intent of those who wrote the Constitution nor has it ever been a statute (law) or legislative enactment of any kind, at least at the federal level.


    Now, it should be common sense that people need warned that they must conceal from the court that they are aware of this sort of information, and if questioned about it by the court, they must even lie about it, in order to serve on the jury. Some may object to such lying, but remember, judges, prosecutors, and police regularly lie-and cheat-in order to obtain convictions, especially in cannabis cases.

    They (the authorities) sure don’t “play” according to the rules, and we are assured of only losing if we aren’t willing to bend-or even break-rules when it is appropriate to do so.
    And it is appropriate to do so. I shall illustrate with an example from history:

    In slave times it was a crime to assist runaway slaves (the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850). Those who did so and were apprehended and tried, often found that jurors with a conscience wouldn’t convict, despite the facts and/or the law…

    Back then, conscience dictated that it was clearly wrong for people to “own” other people as property; just as wrong is the modern notion that the government “owns” our bodies and our lives through the criminalization of peaceful personal behaviors that are properly beyond the scope of governmental intrusion.

  2. Releafer on

    Look at all the nullification wishers come out of the woodwork on a slugjestion that Jurist have rights. You were mislead!

    I challenge you to get busted then see what rights jurists have!

    They have “jury instructions”…..jurist rights went away with “discovery”.

    The judge instructs the jury and the jury is not allowed outside that box…..jurist gets replaced….and in jury selection they cull out the defenders of jurists rights as obstructionist. They only allow jury’s that have the judges network design in mind.

    I’ve been in the defendants seat and had the judge tell my lawyer how its gonna be… can’t even mention “medical marijuana”. Try getting on a jury and getting them all to go against the judge and prosecuter…..its damn near impossible.

    “jury nullification” is wishful thinking….. sorta like legalization.

    The deal is that lawyers are judges and they want to keep you paying for laws that are victumless while they play with your freedoms to keep the “KLIK” kliking!

    You were mislead into thinking this article meant something…..just more misleading wishful wishing by fools that need a joint!

  3. Anonymous on

    With education in the united states, We as medical marijuana patients have a chance. If we inform the general public of the unjust laws concerning MMj and the unjust punishments handed down for these low level crimes, we can finally win a few. Lets be the teachers..Good Job Steve..

  4. Anonymous on

    no, he would be offering the jury legal advice, and explaining a legal procedure which is the judges job, sure to be objected by the prosecution, if not the judge

  5. Releafer on

    You cannot discuss “jury rights” in any court….The Judge’s now give you the rules you must “convict by”. This “jury nulification” has been known for a long time thats why the network of Judges/Lawyers/State laws are woven to exclude the “common sense” of a jurist.

    I’ve spent $75000 on lawyers and beat the warrant three times….even had one case disolved in Calif Appelate courts as to police warrants.


    This article is very misleading…don’t even waste your money and effort to sway a lawyer into jurist rights…..they will refuse you!

    After all a lawyer must comply with discovery that usually leads to plea bargin….they are networked against the Jurist Justice System.

  6. ganjarefermon on

    Yeah that’s what I was wondering, can you openly say to everyone in the jury yeah I agree he’s guilty of these charges but I’m going to say not guiltly because I don’t believe the law is just.

  7. Jk on

    I’m wondering if the Judge can overrule this nullification? Or does what the jury say stands? I can see alot of pissed off judges.

  8. Anonymous on

    can anyone tell me if jury’s can do this in canada?

  9. Anonymous on

    some great news!