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Transcendent Laws of the Heart

Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD

National Director

American Alliance for Medical Cannabis


February 2003


Having just convicted medical cannabis gardener Ed Rosenthal in a San Francisco Federal Court, five of the twelve person jury recanted their verdict and called for a new trial. Jurors complained publicly of judicial intimidation and wrongly sequestered evidence that would have resulted in an acquittal had the government allowed the entire picture surrounding Ed Rosenthal’s compassionate activities to be presented. Many jurors particularly resented having their hands tied by Judge Breyer who instructed them to disregard their conscience and sensibilities.


To most observers the battle in Federal Court was a replay of the recent trial of Bryan Epis in a Sacramento Federal Court. Many feel that medical cannabis has been on trial in these cases with the government bound to crush State Laws providing for the compassionate care of the sick, dying and disabled.


Unfortunately, medical cannabis was NOT on trial in either San Francisco or Sacramento. That’s the whole point. Federal jurors were never allowed to consider the issues surrounding medical cannabis including enabling State Law, medical necessity, or mitigating circumstances. It was as if a man on trial for reckless driving was unable to tell the jury that his pregnant wife was hemorrhaging to death in the car on the way to the emergency room.


The Federal Court knew that an informed jury was likely to acquit persons acting in a compassionate fashion under State Law. The Court also acted to protect Federal Law against any hint of jury nullification by directing the jury to ignore their conscience should they have gotten a clue of the true circumstances of the cases. In Sacramento the government arrested people publicly handing out information on juries and medical cannabis. In San Francisco the government sought a gag order and Judge Breyer threatened the defendant during the course of the trial for publicly speaking about the case.  


From ancient times, societies have grappled to provide a legal system that avoids the twin evils of anarchy and totalitarianism. First the English in common law and then the Americans in the Constitution insured truth and balance in the courtroom by employing detailed procedural mechanisms and the final check of authority by a jury of peers. It is this balance and justice itself that was on trial recently in Sacramento and San Francisco. The Federal government won by perverting, ignoring, or denying the very safeguards we hold essential for truth and fairness.


Jury nullification is no obscure relic of medieval law. It is nothing less than the critical safeguard we have from tyranny. A fully informed jury is to be trusted, respected, and obeyed. If such juries repeatedly refuse to convict persons of unjust laws then their rejection of such laws forces law makers into necessary reform. 


Much has been made by the present government in Washington that the United States is a compassionate Christian nation. Such pronouncements apparently ignore the fact that at the center of Christian doctrine and experience is a savior that rejects the legalism of his age. Christ specifically states that the only way that the laws “written in stone” may be respected is if they are evaluated by the higher laws written in the believer’s hearts. From 2,000 years ago we see that true religion calls for the principles of love, compassion, and truth be an integral part of any legal decision. In this sense the Federal Courts have expressly rejected the spiritual underpinnings of the nation and replaced them with oppressive legalisms that were common in ancient times.


Some may feel that following the laws of the heart is a recipe for legal chaos. This is not only patently untrue but utterly contemptuous of the citizenry. The Judge in legal proceedings is balanced not only by procedural regulation and precedent but also by twelve jurors. Does any rational person think that twelve sociopathic citizens will find themselves on the same jury and reach the same conclusions?


Ed Rosenthal and Bryan Epis may soon be sentenced to long Federal prison terms as the result of their “show” trials. Many jurors are only now learning about what was actually going on with these defendants. These jurors are not only angry at being deceived but even worse they are filled with remorse for convicting innocent individuals. Having been denied in jury deliberation, the conscience of these everyday people will now disturb them for the rest of their lives.


All jurors or potential jurors should be educated to not only question authority but to empower themselves by realizing that the eternal laws of their hearts trump the temporary laws of a misguided and cruel government.



Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD, the author, is National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC). AAMC is a group of patients, caregivers, family members, and health professionals operating in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Rhode Island with the mission of patient support and community education about adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. Information about AAMC is available at: http://www.letfreedomgrow.com. The author may be reached at: jcavana857@aol.com. Dr. Cavanaugh lives in West Hills, California with his wife Nancy and two teens, John Paul 16, and Erin aged 15.




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