Pubdate: Thu, 06 Feb 2003
Source: DrugWar (US Web)
Copyright: 2003 Kalyx com
Author: Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD; National Director, American Alliance for 
Medical Cannabis,


"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

Having just convicted medical cannabis gardener Ed Rosenthal in a San
Francisco Federal Court, five of the twelve person jury recanted their
verdict and called for a new trial. Jurors complained publicly of
judicial intimidation and wrongly sequestered evidence that would have
resulted in an acquittal had the government allowed the entire picture
surrounding Ed Rosenthal's compassionate activities to be presented.
Many jurors particularly resented having their hands tied by Judge
Breyer who instructed them to disregard their conscience and

To most observers the battle in Federal Court was a replay of the
recent trial of Bryan Epis in a Sacramento Federal Court. Many feel
that medical cannabis has been on trial in these cases with the
government bound to crush State Laws providing for the compassionate
care of the sick, dying and disabled.

Unfortunately, medical cannabis was NOT on trial in either San
Francisco or Sacramento. That's the whole point. Federal jurors were
never allowed to consider the issues surrounding medical cannabis
including enabling State Law, medical necessity, or mitigating
circumstances. It was as if a man on trial for reckless driving was
unable to tell the jury that his pregnant wife was hemorrhaging to
death in the car on the way to the emergency room.

The Federal Court knew that an informed jury was likely to acquit
persons acting in a compassionate fashion under State Law. The Court
also acted to protect Federal Law against any hint of jury
nullification by directing the jury to ignore their conscience should
they have gotten a clue of the true circumstances of the cases. In
Sacramento the government arrested people publicly handing out
information on juries and medical cannabis. In San Francisco the
government sought a gag order and Judge Breyer threatened the
defendant during the course of the trial for publicly speaking about
the case.

 From ancient times, societies have grappled to provide a legal system
that avoids the twin evils of anarchy and totalitarianism. First the
English in common law and then the Americans in the Constitution
insured truth and balance in the courtroom by employing detailed
procedural mechanisms and the final check of authority by a jury of
peers. It is this balance and justice itself that was on trial
recently in Sacramento and San Francisco. The Federal government won
by perverting, ignoring, or denying the very safeguards we hold
essential for truth and fairness.

Jury nullification is no obscure relic of medieval law. It is nothing
less than the critical safeguard we have from tyranny. A fully
informed jury is to be trusted, respected, and obeyed. If such juries
repeatedly refuse to convict persons of unjust laws then their
rejection of such laws forces law makers into necessary reform.

Much has been made by the present government in Washington that the
United States is a compassionate Christian nation. Such pronouncements
apparently ignore the fact that at the center of Christian doctrine
and experience is a savior that rejects the legalism of his age.
Christ specifically states that the only way that the laws "written in
stone" may be respected is if they are evaluated by the higher laws
written in the believer's hearts. From 2,000 years ago we see that
true religion calls for the principles of love, compassion, and truth
be an integral part of any legal decision. In this sense the Federal
Courts have expressly rejected the spiritual underpinnings of the
nation and replaced them with oppressive legalisms that were common in
ancient times.

Some may feel that following the laws of the heart is a recipe for
legal chaos. This is not only patently untrue but utterly contemptuous
of the citizenry. The Judge in legal proceedings is balanced not only
by procedural regulation and precedent but also by twelve jurors. Does
any rational person think that twelve sociopathic citizens will find
themselves on the same jury and reach the same conclusions?

Ed Rosenthal and Bryan Epis may soon be sentenced to long Federal
prison terms as the result of their "show" trials. Many jurors are
only now learning about what was actually going on with these
defendants. These jurors are not only angry at being deceived but even
worse they are filled with remorse for convicting innocent
individuals. Having been denied in jury deliberation, the conscience
of these everyday people will now disturb them for the rest of their

All jurors or potential jurors should be educated to not only question
authority but to empower themselves by realizing that the eternal laws
of their hearts trump the temporary laws of a misguided and cruel government.

"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

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Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD, the author, is National Director of the
American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC). AAMC is a group of
patients, caregivers, family members, and health professionals
operating in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho,
Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Rhode Island
with the mission of patient support and community education about
adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. Information about AAMC is
available at: The author may be reached
at:  Dr. Cavanaugh lives in West Hills, California
with his wife Nancy and two teens, John Paul 16, and Erin aged 15.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake