Doug Darrell, 59, was facing felony drug charges for growing marijuana plants behind his house in Barnstead, New Hampshire, but the charges were dropped after some jurors in his trial successfully convinced other jurors to nullify the case on the grounds that Darrell was obeying the customs of his religion; he is a Rastafarian, reports Yahoo! News.
One eldelry juror Cathleen Converse, who describes herself as a “straight-laced, little old lady,” told Free Talk Live: “Many of us wondered what kind of precedent this would set. But after chewing on all of the possibilities and re-reading the definition of nullification, we all decided that the only fair thing to do was to vote with our consciences and acquit the defendant of all charges.”
In 2009, a National Guard helicopter found that Darrell was growing marijuana in the back yard of his home. Shortly afterwards, Darrell's home was raided, he was arrested and charged with multiple counts of felony possession of marijuana.
Darrell was offered several plea deals, but refused to accept them on the grounds that he was following his religious beliefs.
A New Hampshire policy known as 'HB 146' says that the defense has a right to instruct the jury to nullify a guilty verdict, if they conscientiously object to the punishment. Based on this law, it took the jury less than six hours for them to find Darrell not guilty on all charges.
Converse added: “Mr. Darrell is a peaceful man. He never deals with the darker elements of society and he grows for his own personal religious and medicinal use. I knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.”
Converse is a member of the Free State Project who helped get HB 146 signed into law.