H/t The Agitator.
There was an interesting case in Missoula, Montana recently where jurors in a case before the court rebelled. The court was thrown into turmoil when it became clear that that there was no chance that a full jury could be empanelled from the thirty odd people available. The problem was that the defendant was only caught with some burnt marijuana cigarettes, a pipe and some residue, as well as a shoulder holster for a handgun and 9mm ammunition.
They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.
The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.
No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.
In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.
District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree. Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections. …
“Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, is not supportive of the state’s marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances,” according to the plea memorandum filed by his attorney. …
The defendant was a known felon and appears to be a waste of space, however justice is justice and matters before the court should be dealt with on merit, regardless of the defendants background. This could be the beginning of a serious fight back in the drug war, which all too often is waged against minor marijuana offenders. Drugs are a problem, but the criminalization of youth over minor indiscretions is a much bigger one.
It is often argued that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to other drug use, however it is possible that if this is true one of the reasons is probably that its illegality means that it is obtained from people who are also in many cases pushing harder stuff and will encourage users to try it. It seems to be considerably less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, and there is no point in continuing to wage a decades old war on a habit despite the ‘war’ having little public support.
That is what has happened here. Jurors ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s and have seen enough of this rot. This is in fact a reflection that society is as a whole is moving on and it’s about time that authority did so as well.