Federal Jurors Told They Must Acquit Marijuana Defendants To Stop Convictions of Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

WASHINGTON, DC -- As a growing number of medical marijuana patients and providers face federal charges, DC residents will protest the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) harassment of the seriously ill by informing jurors that the federal government has blocked all medical necessity defenses in federal marijuana cases. The jurors will be given leaflets as they report for jury duty at the Federal Courthouse at 3rd and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, beginning at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, April 9, 2003. [Attention Photo Desks: A large banner proclaiming “ACQUIT ALL POT CASES: It Could be Medical!” will be on display.] WHO: Metro DC Medical Marijuana Activists WHAT: Jury Education Direct Action on Medical Marijuana WHEN: Wednesday, April 9, 2003; 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM WHERE: In front of the Federal Courthouse on Pennsylvania Ave. between 3rd and 4th Streets NW The protest is in anticipation of the arrival of a delegation of California medical marijuana patients, their families and federal jurors who have served on medical marijuana trials. Additionally, DC activists will elucidate the lack of federal recognition of the DC voter approved Initiative 59 which legalized marijuana for seriously ill people. While President Bush will formally appoint Karen Tandy as the new DEA Administrator this month, medical marijuana activists are questioning the reasoning behind denying access to one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to mankind by arresting patients and providers. These patients and providers are then forced to endure lengthy trials with juries who are not informed of the medical necessity defense. This situation could change as U.S. Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) introduce the “Patients’ and Providers’ Truth in Trials Act” in Congress later this week, which will allow for a medical necessity defense. "Potential jurors must know their power prior to going to court," says Aaron Biterman, President of American University Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “Judges often refuse to tell jurors about their option to veto unjust or misapplied laws, and may even dismiss potential jurors who let the court know they're aware of this power, according to studies,” says Biterman. "How can jurors dispense justice when the law they are instructed to apply is unjust?" asks Adam Eidinger, a member of the DC Statehood Green Party Steering Committee. According to Attorney Clay S. Conrad, an author who specializes in juries: "In every criminal case, jurors have a prerogative to acquit, whatever the evidence ... When a jury acquits because a conviction is unconscionable ... the government cannot retry the Accused, or appeal the decision." U.S. juries have a proud and heroic tradition of standing up to tyranny and saying no to oppressive, unjust, or misapplied laws. No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana and it has a wide variety of therapeutic applications: release from nausea and increase of appetite, reduction of intraocular pressure, reduction of muscle spasms, and relief from chronic pain. “Why must our government continue the harassment, persecution, prosecution, and criminalization of innocent, harmless people?" asks Eidinger.