Jury Nullification Cited as Reason Not to Charge State Rep for Buying Cannabis

October 5th, 2016 - 12:28pmby FTL_Ianin

Rick Naya, NH Hempfest Organizer and Joe Lachance

Rick Naya, NH Hempfest Organizer and State Rep Joe Lachance

The Attorney General’s office in New Hampshire has released a report regarding their investigation of claims that former state representative Kyle Tasker had sold cannabis at the NH state house in Concord, to other state representatives. Several liberty-oriented state reps including Amanda Bouldin, Joe Lachance, Pam Tucker, Ted Wright, and the late Shem Kellogg were all investigated by the AG’s office but none will be charged.

The report details the investigations of each state rep and though they believed they had a case for “dry conspiracy” charges against both former-cop-turned-LEAP speaker Lachance and Tasker, they used their discretion and decided not to charge them. The report specifically cites jury nullification when giving their explanation as to why they aren’t charging Lachance – that’s great news for activists who’ve been doing jury nullification outreach here in the Shire for years.

Jury nullification is the long-held right of jurors to vote their conscience, regardless of what the law says and the facts in the case are. Though Lachance clearly broke the law, each juror has the right to acquit simply because they believe the law is bad. It’s a powerful right and courts around the country as well as the federal courts will do everything they can to keep jurors from knowing about it. However, here in New Hampshire is established court precedent that not only can jury nullification information be given to jurors outside the court, but even defendants and attorneys can explain nullification during trial!

NH Jury Logo

NH Jury Rights

The NH attorney general doesn’t like jury nullification, as it’s a threat to their power. They appear however to have realized that the changing political tides regarding cannabis legalization plus jurors’ awareness of nullification would likely mean they were wasting their time prosecuting Lachance. They also say in the report that a jury would likely reject “dry conspiracy” charges for Tasker as well (who is facing various felonies for other victimless crimes) and say his other charges will suffice to, “hold him accountable for his drug crimes”. Of course, there are no victims in those “drug crimes” which include possession and sale of cannabis, MDMA, and mushrooms and so Tasker should also not be charged with them, and neither should anyone else.

That’s really the question here – if the NH AG acknowledges that cannabis charges are likely to not pass a jury due to nullification, then why don’t they treat every person caught with cannabis the same way they did the state reps? The reason is they know most people will quietly take a plea deal and further, if they don’t take the deal, they can drop the charge to a class B misdemeanor which means the defendant can’t get a jury trial, virtually guaranteeing a guilty verdict and hundreds of dollars (per victim) flowing to the state’s coffers. Cannabis prohibition means big money for the state gang, so they’ll keep charging the little people until the law is changed. Hopefully that will happen in 2017 if the new governor doesn’t stand in the way, whoever it ends up being.