To the Editor:
Re "Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No," by Paul Butler (Op-Ed,
The concept of jury nullification is more complex than Mr. Butler
suggests. Because juries deliberate in secret and do not provide
reasons for their decisions, there is no doubt that jurors have the
power not to follow the governing law. The critical question is
whether jurors have the right to do so.
For more than a century, the courts have ruled that juries have no
right to decide what the law is, but rather have a duty to apply the
law to the facts based on the trial evidence.
[continues 169 words]
To the Editor:
Jury nullification might sound appealing when it's used in a
defendant's favor to set aside petty laws. But jury nullification
doesn't just let off otherwise guilty people; it also convicts the
innocent. Would anyone congratulate a jury for ignoring the law
because of its animus toward the defendant rather than its sympathy?
Democratically accountable bodies write our criminal laws. Twelve
unelected and anonymous people should not be able to flout them behind
Burlington, N.C., Dec. 21, 2011
The writer is a recent graduate of Yale Law School.
To the Editor:
What is hidden behind the heated philosophical debate that jury
nullification generates are the real people and communities affected
by prosecutorial and police policies. Paul Butler properly notes the
disgraceful number of marijuana possession prosecutions in New York
City. But what we need to be equally aware of is that drug
prosecutions in this city almost invariably target people suffering
from endemic joblessness, homelessness as well as mental health and
substance abuse problems aggravated by collapsing and underfinanced
[continues 139 words]
A joint oversight committee of the City Council held a contentious
hearing last month over an attempt by the Council to support passage
of a state law legalizing medical marijuana. The Council's resolution
asks the state Legislature to pass the bill - which is sponsored by
Tom Duane in the state Senate and Richard Gottfried in the Assembly -
but which has languished for years in the warrens of Albany. Similar
to a law recently passed in New Jersey, the legislation would closely
regulate use and distribution of marijuana.
[continues 982 words]
The price of hard drugs found on the street may be able to forecast
the level of violent crime like larceny, assault and homicide in New
York City, according to a new study.
A study at the John Jay College, 'More Drugs, Less Crime,' in
Manhattan, states that the price of hard drugs for a particular year
can help determine the level of crime expected based on a user's ease
'Essentially our paper could be boiled down to this: Most crime is
committed by drug users to finance the cost of drug use,' Travis
Wendel, the main author of the study explained according to the New
[continues 230 words]
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 adult. 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.
The information I have just provided - about a constitutional
doctrine called "jury nullification" - is absolutely true. But if
federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to
potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.
[continues 770 words]
Contrary to the conclusions stated as fact by Mr. Evans:
Marijuana is not addictive.
Studies by the Department of Transportation show that marijuana use
does not cause more automobile accidents.
Many people in treatment programs for marijuana are there because
courts send them there as an alternative to incarceration; most
judges know that people shouldn't be jailed for smoking pot.
The vast majority of state medical marijuana laws were promulgated by
legislatures, analyzed and affirmed by courts, and based on the
advice of medical organizations representing the opinions of tens of
thousands of physicians.
[continues 68 words]
Scientists have long known that like many plants, marijuana has some
medicinal properties. But that does not imply that to derive those
medical benefits, the plant should be smoked in its raw form (we
don't, after all, smoke opium to get the benefits of morphine). Nor
does the potential medical value of marijuana mean that, as medicine,
its fate should be left to the whims of the electorate.
Unfortunately, rather than advocating better or quicker research
protocols so that pharmacists can properly dispense marijuana-based
medications with consistent dosing and in a safe delivery manner,
many states have bypassed the approval process of modern medicine.
The result has been widespread abuses.
[continues 101 words]
The Writer Responds
The responses focus on denying the dangers of marijuana use (that it
is addictive and causes car crashes), personal anecdotes about
marijuana as "medicine," and justifications for bypassing the
approval process of the Food and Drug Administration.
I point Mr. Anton to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
showing that marijuana users have the highest rate of dependence of
all those classified with illicit drug dependence. Higher potency
marijuana is a major factor in the increasing number of Americans
being treated for dependence.
[continues 154 words]
I congratulate Mr. Evans for his incisive and insightful discussion
of the medical marijuana issue.
Our procedures for assuring safety and efficacy through Food and Drug
Administration approval have been hijacked by marijuana advocates.
They are driving a process of medicine by popular vote - a terrible
precedent for consumer protection.
If marijuana were named Substance X to disconnect it from all the
emotions, its use would be associated with exposure to numerous
impurities, significant addiction, psychotic episodes and dose
instability. The medical community and the public would reject it out
of hand. Lobbying by the marijuana culture has resulted in misguided
and misinformed public acceptance.
[continues 57 words]
Mr. Evans, who is not a doctor and doesn't specialize in any of the
illnesses he cites, overextends his expertise when he advises me and
other readers that medical marijuana does not help me and others like me.
I have Parkinson's disease, and I have used marijuana on occasion to
relieve the uncomfortable stiffness that I suffer from time to time. It works.
Mr. Evans insists that "numerous safe and effective F.D.A.-approved
medications are available for these conditions." He's right; I'm on
several of them. But these drugs have unpleasant and, in one case,
potentially debilitating side effects when used on a long-term basis.
How easy it is for an anti-marijuana crusader to dismiss its medical
benefits; how wrong he is to advocate denying me something that eases
New York, Dec. 14, 2011
Several years ago, I contracted a case of food poisoning. The
frequent vomiting and diarrhea were unpleasant, but the feeling of
nausea was the worst effect of all.
In response, I smoked a few puffs of high-quality marijuana. The
effects of the nausea disappeared after about 30 seconds.
Here's a few assertions of my own: Marijuana is the fastest-acting
and most effective anti-nausea agent available. Marijuana is no more
addictive than milk, and the consumption of small quantities is no
more toxic than milk.
Novato, Calif., Dec. 14, 2011
Mr. Evans's call for the Food and Drug Administration to determine
the safety and efficacy of cannabis may sound appealing, but it is
politically unfeasible. That is because the cannabis plant is
classified under federal law as a Schedule 1 prohibited substance -
the most restrictive classification possible.
Since the present law forbids any private manufacturers of
cannabis-based products to exist, there remains no entity available
to conduct the sort of research and development necessary to trigger
an F.D.A. review.
[continues 148 words]
I am sure that others will point out the many fallacies in Mr.
Evans's letter as these have been the traditional myths used by
medical marijuana opponents for years. When myths like these are
circulated, it discredits the sincere effort many of us have been
making to deal with the problem of substance abuse.
Offering false arguments regarding marijuana tends to undermine all
of us who are trying to reach out to young people. When I present
them with real science, my words are dismissed as well. If we truly
want to prevent substance abuse, honesty is the best policy.
Boulder, Colo., Dec. 14, 2011
The writer is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The addictive properties of marijuana are no reason to denounce its
use as an effective and safe medicine. Many of the "safe and
effective FDA-approved" drugs are opioids, which studies have shown
to be nearly twice as addictive as marijuana and carry additional
risks such as extreme nausea, physical dependence and death from overdose.
Furthermore, any claim that marijuana has no medicinal benefits is
disingenuous. A recent federal petition by the governors of
Washington State and Rhode Island to reclassify marijuana for medical
use cited more than 700 peer-reviewed independent studies documenting
the medical value of cannabis.
[continues 99 words]
Research by the group Monitoring The Future, described in recent news
reports, shows that teen marijuana use continues to rise while teen
alcohol use hits historic lows.
A taxed-and-regulated market like alcohol's ensures that anyone
selling the substance has considerable incentive to keep it out of the
hands of teens. Those who sell to underage citizens lose their license
and their profits.
The underground market provides no such protections, essentially
letting sales of marijuana to teens stay as profitable as sale to
[continues 57 words]
MILTON - Supervisor Frank Thompson said he'll confer with Town Board
members this weekend to decide whether to seek Highway Superintendent
[name redacted], 43, of Lee Street in Ballston Spa, was one of 12
people charged Thursday with drug trafficking following a five-month
investigation by Saratoga Springs Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"We can ask for his resignation, but he doesn't have to do it,"
Thompson said. "I've been talking to them (board members). I haven't
gotten a good consensus yet."
[continues 267 words]
To the Editor:
The Obama administration's recent crackdown on growers and sellers of
medical marijuana is totally justified. The federal government is
trying to protect vulnerable people from the use of marijuana as
medicine, since the drug is not proved safe or effective.
All medications, particularly those containing controlled substances,
should be required to meet the rigorous criteria of the Food and Drug
Administration approval process. That process has been carefully
constructed over the last century to protect patient health and safety.
[continues 189 words]
To the editor
Newt Gingrich is now the leading contender for the Republican
nomination. Although his lead has put him under the spotlight, his
recent comments on drug policy have received little attention. For
example, Gingrich has spoken favorably of Singapore's approach, which
imposes corporal punishment and death for drug offenses.
"They have been very draconian," Gingrich says. "And they have
communicated with great intention that they intend to stop drugs from
coming into their country."
We view ourselves as a free country. The mainstream media must ask how
Gingrich would apply such contradicting values on Americans.
[continues 152 words]
On Sept. 21, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF) responded to confusion in the federal firearms licensing
community about whether medical marijuana patients can apply for gun
Its letter refers to the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Controlled
Substances Act of 1970. An unlawful user or addict to controlled
substances is prohibited from purchasing firearms or ammunition.
Furthermore, presenting a medical marijuana card is "reasonable cause
to believe" that the transferee is an unlawful user or addict.
[continues 546 words]