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Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:07 PM

To End Ridiculous Pot Arrests, Jurors Should Refuse to Convict Marijuana Arrestees (And Can Do So... [View all]

Last edited Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:32 PM - Edit history (1)

Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University, has an idea to help everyday Americans stand-up against the harsh marijuana laws most of them do not support: "If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote 'not guilty' — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adults," he wrote Monday in an op-ed for the New York Times. The tactic is called "jury nullification," and it is perfectly legal. "As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer," Butler said.

Clearly, public opinion is not reflected in the federal government's crackdown on legal medical marijuana programs, nor is it evident in high arrest rates. A recent Gallup poll showed that 50% of Americans' favor marijuana legalization -- a record high --, and a CBS poll found that even more Americans, 77 percent, believe medical marijuana should be legal, though the majority also said that current medical marijuana programs are not being used to alleviate "suffering serious medical conditions." And yet, even as more Americans than ever support some kind of marijuana legalization, arrests for medical marijuana are at an all-time high: "In 2010, police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report," Paul Armentano recently reported on AlterNet.

Butletr suggests that Americans need not lie down as hundreds of thousands of us are arrested for pot offenses, the majority of which are personal possession charges. According to Butler, jury nullification "is premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished. As Adams put it, it is each juror’s “duty” to vote based on his or her 'own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.'"

Prosecutors, however, have taken legal action to prevent Americans from being informed of this right. Butler said disclosing the truth about nullification to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence:



Original NY Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/opinion/jurors-can-say-no.html?_r=1

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Purveyor Dec 2011 OP
Vinnie From Indy Dec 2011 #1
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RueVoltaire Dec 2011 #3
redqueen Dec 2011 #4
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2011 #10
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Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #8
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zipplewrath Dec 2011 #12
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Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #19