One proposal I've been toying with is - I hope - self explanatory below. Suggestions
and improvements welcome. You can read my detailed arguments here.
The Marijuana Manifesto
a proposed strategy for promoting Jury Nullification
Marijuana Manifesto is a "working title". I'd prefer something like
"The Cannabis Defence" but a bit snappier...
On no account should anyone be tempted to act as suggested by this document
YET. I am not a legal expert and I haven't a clue, at this stage whether what
I am proposing could actually work. If I'm wrong, it might actually make your
situation worse! I propose to copy this to various better informed bodies and
its final form will no doubt be influenced by their input. They may even take
over the project and you'll need to go to their page/s to pursue the matter
I also accept that I need to add another paragraph to deal with the ludicrous argument that has gained currency since 9-11 - viz that drug use funds terrorism. That's in the melting pot.
The document proper follows:
The Marijuana Manifesto
The purpose of this document is to state clearly why the Government's insistence
on prohibiting our private pleasure is unecessary, illegitimate and an inappropriate
issue for the Law to deal with.
Our advice to anyone arrested for using Cannabis is that you should, when asked
to comment or make a statement, make only the following response:
"In order to understand and judge my behaviour, you need to read the [this
document whatever its called]".
You should plead "not guilty" to any charges related to the use of
cannabis by virtue of the fact that no crime has been committed.
You do not need to deny using or possessing Cannabis. Neither do you need to
admit it. You need make no other statements about the case other than the formalities
and, at the appropriate time, to insist on exercising your right to a trial
As this document (and, if necessary, expert witnesses called to support it)
will then form the entire basis of your defence, the court has no choice but
to accept it in evidence which means that your fellow citizens on the Jury will
get to read it.
Our advice to those citizens is as follows:
The Prohibition of Cannabis is an issue of Liberty.
You may not have known it, but in most Western Democracies, the State cannot
deprive anyone of "Liberty", without your consent!(1)
What this means is that when, as a juror, you sit in judgement of your fellow
citizens, you have to be convinced not just that an offence defined by statute
has been committed, but also that the Statute itself is fair and reasonable.
Yes - you can judge the Law itself. (For precedents and further explanation
please see The Juror's Handbook (1) In passing you might ask the question -
why haven't we been told about these rights and powers as members of the Jury
by the judge or courts themselves?)
It is our contention that the Law prohibiting the use of Cannabis is a gross
infringement of our civil liberties, a gross excess of the powers of elected
governments and a gross injustice to all the victims who have been labelled
as criminals by virtue of breaching an illegitimate law.
Cannabis has been defined by irrational legislators as being a dangerous drug.
This definition is the entire basis for the law as it now stands. It is why
you may be reading this as part of a criminal prosecution.
This allegedly "dangerous drug" has been used continuously by the
Human Race for over 4,700 years. During all that time, no case has ever been
recorded of a death caused by overdose or allergic reaction to Cannabis. None.
Ever! And although many attempts have been made, in the absence of newsworthy
deaths, by government's to find evidence of less than mortal clinical damage,
the medical consensus is that even heavy use of the substance does considerably
less damage than either Tobacco or Alcohol(2), which, as you know, are both
permitted substances. Even the Police acknowledge that Cannabis is somewhat
less addictive than Coffee (3).
Even attempts to show that marijuana users cause more traffic accidents have
singularly failed. The Government's own evidence suggests that Marijuana users
are no more nor less likely to be involved in car accidents unless they've also
been drinking alcohol - possibly because, unlike alcohol which impairs performance
but makes drivers reckless, Cannabis also impairs performance but tends to make
drivers more cautious(4). It seems that the worst danger associated with marijuana
is that as it affects balance and co-ordination (like alcohol but to a lesser
extent) there is an increased risk of accidents in general, the vast majority
of which damage the user rather than innocent bystanders.
More recently much noise has been made regarding a few studies which have shown
that a combination of early and heavy use of Cannabis can double the risk of
psychosis in susceptible users. This is a highly controversial point because
no existing studies can distinguish between cause and correlation. This is best
illustrated by the relative prevalence of three drug dependencies among the
psychotic population, with a comparison to the percentage of the wider population
who use the three drugs.
30-40% of the Population use Tobacco (6) while 64% of psychotics use it.
75% of the Population use Alcohol (7) against 27% of psychotics and
roughly 8% of the Population use Cannabis (8) against only 2% of psychotics
Which makes it clear that, surprisingly, both Alcohol and Cannabis users are
under represented in the Psychotic population while tobacco smokers are heavily
over-represented. None of which proves, for example, that smoking causes psychosis.
It is just as likely that psychotics simply find some relief from nicotine.
As indeed they report with all three drugs. Most importantly it puts the alleged
risks of cannabis induced psychosis into context with the other (legal) drugs
and makes it very clear that any such risk is dramatically less than with those
Prohibition, therefore, can never be justified on the basis of harm caused
either to users or to third parties. There has, in short, rarely, if ever, been
a LESS dangerous drug than Cannabis. Even Aspirin is vastly more dangerous and
kills about 100-500 people a year(9).
Juries should thus be asking themselves the question: "On what reasonable
basis has this substance been branded dangerous and illegal?"
Juries should further consider whether the use of Cannabis, for which the defendant
is now on trial, involved anyone else or breached the rights or freedom of action
of any other person. If not, then the obvious question is "Why is this
a matter of Law at all?"
Isn't it rather odd to find a supposed Criminal behaviour in which there is
no victim, or even potential victim, of the alleged crime?
If we commit the crime of theft the victim is the owner of the stolen goods
If we commit the crime of fraud, the victim is the person or organisation we
If we commit the crime of homicide, the victim is dead
If we commit the crime of possessing cannabis, the victim does not exist
At worst - if the substance was indeed harmful - then those accused of the
crime would also be the victim. And what sense can it possibly make to have
the Law punish the victim for harming themselves? In fact, as Cannabis is so
innocuous, there is no victim at all.
Can there possibly be any sensible definition of crime which doesn't require
there to be either a victim of that crime or at least a potential victim? (such
as exists when you are caught exceeding a speed limit) And should we be expected
to support a Law which criminalises behaviour which does no harm other than
breaking the law itself. Even the tiny minority of abusers of cannabis is -
first - a much smaller proportion of the user population than we find with alcohol
and - second - MUCH less likely to cause harm to other members of society.
Laws like this are made to be broken and it is the Jury's power and privilege
to strike down such laws before they allow governments to exercise excessive
and unnecessary control over their citizens. Governments declare that they are
our humble Servants. It is the Jury's ultimate duty to ensure that the Servant
of the People doesn't get ideas above its station and begin to act as though
they were our not so humble Masters.
It is, of course, too late for the hundreds of thousands of cannabis convicts
already created by this unjust and irrational law, but it is not too late to
prevent further convictions.
We believe that the average juror, when allowed to exercise their freedom of
thought in regard to these matters will conclude that the prohibition of Cannabis
is without any foundation in science or common sense. Furthermore we believe
many jurors will agree that such private behaviour should never in any case
be subject to the Law in the first place.
On these two grounds Juries can and, we hope, will freely decide to refuse
to convict any defendant charged with these artificial offences.
1 Jurors Handbook
Find Alcohol MUCH worse than Cannabis
"it would be reasonable to judge cannabis less of a threat to health than
alcohol or tobacco"
From The Lancet editorial Volume: 352, Number 9140 republished
3 BBC Panorama
4 Cannabis and Road Safety:
an Outline of the Research Studies to Examine the Effects of Cannabis on Driving
Skills and on Actual Driving Performance
Mental Health Specific Problems (see Datasets and Reports
7 British Heart Foundation
8 Drugscope Annual
Oh Willow Don't Weep
Drug Deaths in USA