Pubdate: Sat, 15 Aug 2015
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2015 The Trentonian
Author: Ed Forchion, NJ Weedman for The Trentonian


I lost my appeal before the NJ Appellate Court. But before I go into 
that disappointment, in honor of Gov. Christie's presidential run and 
national prominence I've renamed my "Jive Turkey Burger" "THE 
CHRISTIE" and added a Twinkie on the side. 

I am a medical marijuana patient and I'm writing this column from the 
Philadelphia Veterans Administration hospital where I'm receiving 
treatment for my painful bone cancer condition. Last year I had my 
most prominent and painful tumor surgically removed. MRIs and my pain 
level have confirmed it's back - so technically I'm no longer in remission.

In 2010 the state passed a medical marijuana bill designed to stop 
patients from being prosecuted. I can name numerous medical marijuana 
patients who've been prosecuted despite the law. For the last five 
years I've been fighting the state over my April 1, 2010, arrest. 
I've called it the most momentous marijuana case in the history of 
New Jersey, and I don't believe it's over - I believe it will be 
decided by the "highest" court in NJ, the NJ Supreme Court. And 
rightly so-this case has the potential to rewrite the state's 
antiquated cannabis laws because it proves their absurdity and the 
inherent legal contradiction between the new law that acknowledges 
the medical value of cannabis and previous statutes that expressly 
deny it. The last time the issue of cannabis came before the NJ 
Supreme Court was 30 years ago! A lot has changed, and will continue 
to change ...

In 2012 I took my case to trial before a jury, challenging the state 
marijuana laws for everyone, not just me. I argued numerous 
constitutional and realistic issues. For instance, before I was 
arrested the state approved the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana 
Act in January 2010, which clearly recognizes marijuana's medical 
value. Yet I along with more than 100,000 other New Jerseyans have 
since been persecuted with prosecution under NJ 2C:35 statues-a 
conflicting set of laws that deem marijuana to have no medical value 
and be illegal. (Realistically that's absurd, constitutionally the 
lawyers say "great.")

Since my April Fool's Day arrest, I've had victories and defeats. 
Having a jury find me "not guilty" of possession with intent to 
distribute when I was in fact "guilty" was a huge victory. Yes, I'm 
publicly admitting I would have shared my cannabis with others, which 
is technically and legally distribution. (F... the law.) Just stand 
to my left and I'll PASS THE JOINT.

There was a pothead on my jury who became the forewomen-I thought I'd 
achieve total victory via jury nullification. I didn't. The jury 
split on "not guilty on possession with intent to distribute," which 
was obscenely hypocritical since this pot-smoking juror (Ms. 
Roughgardener) and members of my first jury found me "guilty" of 
simple possession - probably while she possessed some herself!

NOTE TO THOSE CHOSEN FOR JURY DUTY: If you're on a jury and a 
defendant is facing time for marijuana, no matter what I recommend 
you say "not guilty" - it's constitutionally permissible. How 
cowardly of my jurors to acquiesce to the bully pulpit of the state 
prosecutor and say "guilty." This case should have ended in May 2012 
with my victory!

Instead it was a partial victory; I tried to make the best of the 
guilty verdict by appealing my conviction before the NJ Appeals 
Court, challenging the constitutionality and reality of the marijuana 
laws. I personally lost my California business and LA lifestyle plus 
157 days of freedom for possessing this good thing (1 pound of 
cannabis), and one of my dogs, Stash, was lost while I was jailed.

I'm a medical cannabis user, yet I refuse to have anything to do with 
the state's failed medical cannabis program. I still get mine from 
the streets or through the mail.

During trial I did everything I could to encourage my jurors to 
utilize jury nullification, including admitting that I was under the 
positive influence of marijuana as I represented myself. The 
prosecution and judge did everything to prevent that. Ultimately I 
was denied due process - the right to present expert witnesses in my 
favor because the prosecution and the judge didn't want jurors making 
a decision using their own conscience - utilizing jury nullification, 
which occurs when a jury finds a defendant not guilty, even though 
members of the jury believe the defendant is guilty of the charges. 
Jury members might disagree with the law the defendant is charged 
with breaking or might believe the law should not be applied in that 
particular case.

This weekend the NJ Appeals Court self-servingly agreed with the 
trial judge on that argument in a 31-page ruling: 
17) "We also reject defendant's argument that the judge improperly 
foreclosed him from advancing certain legal arguments about the 
medical use of marijuana before the jury. Permitting defendant to 
have argued that medical necessity or the existence of CUMMA somehow 
excused his possession of marijuana would have been tantamount to 
inviting jury nullification." (See State v. Ragland, 105 N.J. 189, 
211 [1986], "Jury nullification is an unfortunate but unavoidable 
power. It should not be advertised, and, to the extent 
constitutionally permissible, it should be limited. Efforts to 
protect and expand it are inconsistent with the real values of our 
system of criminal justice.")

Bulls..t, Your Honors-it was the purpose of the 6th Amendment!

The Founding Fathers wanted citizens to reject unpopular laws. The 
founders didn't want us to have kangaroo courts where the government 
dictates everything. They felt citizens should have the right to 
judge the nation's laws as well as facts. The fact is Americans have 
rejected the marijuana laws, and I maintain my trial was a sham 
because I was prevented from making a case that the law was wrong, not I.

Lawyers are more concerned with protecting the law, not citizens. The 
appeals judges were more concerned with protecting the legal 
profession's Cannabis Cash Cow. In the past we've dealt with banks 
that were too big to fail-now it's the marijuana laws?

But I wasn't the only one who had a bad legal ruling this week.

Genny Barbour, a 16-year-old child with epilepsy, also lost her 
appeal before an administrative law judge to allow her to use medical 
marijuana during school hours. Her parents, Roger and Lora, sued the 
Maple Shade School District to require a nurse at their daughter's 
school to administer cannabis oil, just as a school nurse would 
provide students with any prescribed medication. But Administrative 
Law Judge John S. Kennedy disagreed, stating in his decision that the 
Maple Shade School District and the Larc School in Bellmawr "are 
mandated to comply with the Drug Free School Zone Act."

Again, bulls..t! This young lady has a right to go to school; state 
law allows her to have medical marijuana but the school wants to be 
politically incorrect and defer to outdated federal law. Judge 
Kennedy, you're a fool.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom