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Function of Juries & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 10 Jun 2015

-Possible Jury Nullification in Las Vegas MMJ Case


Marijuana (2)

Late last month, a jury acquitted Steven Ficano on two felony charges, possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Ficano grows marijuana for medicinal use, and at the time of his arrest in 2012, he had both a medical marijuana license and a note from his doctor explaining the quantity of marijuana he was growing.

However, prosecutors argued that Ficano possessed more marijuana than he was legally authorized to possess for medical use. They further claimed that this meant he intended to sell some of that marijuana. The jury was unconvinced, and acquitted Ficano on both counts.

Jurors focused not just on the letter of the law and the facts of the case, but on their sympathy with Ficano’s illness. This suggests that jurors exercised their right to use their conscience to evaluate the justice of the charges rather than merely acting as finders of fact. In other words, they may have exercised the legal power of jury nullification.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:

Outside the courtroom, jurors said they focused on the doctor’s waiver, and said they didn’t think the document clearly defined how much pot Ficano could have at his home.

The waiver allowed him to possess 29 plants and 2 to 4 pounds of finished marijuana per three-month growing cycle. But Ficano said he only harvested marijuana once a year and assumed that he would be allowed to have up to 84 plants and 16 pounds of finished medicine.

Another juror, Donna Florence, said that after reaching the verdict she thought of her mother, who died of cancer about two years ago.

“If I could have gotten something for her that would have spared her that pain, I would have done anything,” she said. “And I think this guy was just in similar pain and trying to help himself.”