Go the F*ck Free: Best-Selling Illustrator Makes Jury Nullification Fun

Posted: June 13th, 2013 | Filed under: civil liberties, cocaine, drugs, history, marijuana, prostitution | 2 Comments »

Jury Independence Illustrated

An American juror has the power to deem a defendant “not guilty” in a criminal trial even when the evidence of guilt is overwhelming. The juror can, in effect, nullify a law believed to be either unjust or unjustly applied. This legal doctrine is known as jury nullification. Drug-war opponents and sex-work activists should familiarize themselves with this aspect of jurisprudence, and thanks to Ricardo Cortés jury nullification is now colorfully accessible.

Cortés is the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling children’s book, Go the F*ck to Sleep (2011).* He also wrote and illustrated the children’s book about marijuana, It’s Just a Plant (2005), and A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola (2012). His illustrated book on jury nullification is called Jury Independence Illustrated (2011) and the ebook can be viewed for free here.

Jury Independence Illustrated Sketches of Drug Czars

Jury nullification has a rich history dating back to before the Revolutionary War. In colonial times it was used to free people prosecuted for criticizing the government. During the 19th century, juries as far south as Georgia would refuse to convict people who aided escaped slaves. During the 20th century, juries used it to free alcohol criminals under prohibition, artists charged under obscenity laws, and homosexuals charged under sodomy laws. (Critics point out that racist juries have also used jury nullification to free persecutors of minorities. A recent case where this may have occurred is here.)

Go the Fuck to Sleep It's Just A Plant Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola

Although jury nullification is explicitly authorized in three state constitutions, many jurisdictions bar judges and lawyers from telling jurors about it. California has gone so far as to rule that a juror who openly argues for jury nullification can be discharged. In contrast, the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire made it a state law in 2012 that judges must allow defense attorneys to inform jurors of their authority to nullify. (Read more about California’s ruling here, and New Hampshire’s law here.) Due to jurisdictions like California, the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) advises:

We caution jurors NOT to lobby their fellow jurors obviously toward nullification during deliberations! It has been established in court precedent that judges may remove jurors, even during deliberations, if the judge becomes aware that they are considering jury nullification in coming to a verdict. If a single fully informed juror is removed from the jury because he or she made his or her intentions known by attempting to lobby other jurors, the defendant may be left without anyone in his or her corner during deliberations. It is much better for the defendant if that fully informed juror simply hangs the jury. A hung jury is always better than a conviction, and the prosecutor will have to think twice about whether or not it is even worth it to retry the case. (2)

Prominent advocates of jury nullification for drug cases include the writers of HBO’s Baltimore drama The Wire, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, and the George Washington Law School professor Paul Butler. Their statements can be read herehere, and here respectively.

For more detailed information on how to ethically get seated on a jury in order to nullify the prosecutions of non-violent drug criminals read “A Guide to Surviving as a Juror” by the Texas attorney, Clay Conrad. Conrad is the author of Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine (1999).


* Samuel L. Jackson’s reading of the book went viral in 2011. It can be seen here.


1. Clay Conrad, “A Guide to Surviving as a Juror,” CounterPunch.com, 5 Feb. 2003. LINK
2. “Reminder: Juries Can Nullify Marijuana Charges If They Find Them Unjust,” FIJA.org, 1 Apr. 2013. LINK

Did Bible Study and Anti-Drug Vow Cause Miami Cannibal Attack?

Posted: June 4th, 2012 | Filed under: bath salts, cocaine, drugs, hallucinogens, LSD, marijuana, media bias | 5 Comments »

Causeway Cannibal

(For more information on bath salts read “Doctor Tried Bath Salts and Liked It: In Defense of Bath Salts,” or learn about the “Legal Drug Linked to More Cannibalism than Bath Salts.”)

On May 26, 2012, a naked Rudy Eugene ate the face of Ronald Poppo by a Miami causeway. Despite there being no evidence of drug use, yellow journalism used the specious speculation of Miami’s police union president to launch an avalanche of errant drug bashing.

The truth is that drug abuse/dependence is not a statistically significant predictor of violence, nor is severe mental illness. (Eugene was young, male, and had a history of violence – the top three predictors.) Drug use and severe mental illness are only significantly problematic when coupled with violent tendencies. (2,5)

Eugene clearly had anger and violence issues. In 2004 he became the first person to be Tased in North Miami Beach when he went on a destructive rampage in his mother’s home. He shoved her, broke a table, smashed items, and told her, “I’ll put a gun to your head and kill you.” When the police arrived he threatened them as well. (3)

Contrary to media presentations, it appears Eugene did not take bath salts, LSD, or cocaine. According to his girlfriend he frequently used marijuana but refused all other drugs. He even avoided medication for minor ailments like headaches.

Two days before the attack Eugene and two friends had a Bible study where they discussed how to become better men according to the word of God. Eugene vowed to give up marijuana. It is more likely that this vow – not bath salts – precipitated the attack.

A 1985 Kent State study found that administrating a moderate to heavy amount of marijuana promotes non-aggression. (4) Although understudied, marijuana’s pacifying effects are obvious to users. A 2007 Danish study of over a hundred marijuana smokers in dependence treatment found that more of them used marijuana to relax (86%) than to get “high” (82%), and nearly half of them smoked marijuana to decrease aggression. (1)

It is highly probable that a more relaxed and less aggressive Eugene would have behaved differently on that causeway.

Note: If toxicology reports come back positive for marijuana it does not mean that Eugene was partaking. Heavy marijuana users can test positive for marijuana for up to a month after their last use.

Tip of the Hat

I salute the following journalists for writing articles criticizing the fallacious and narcophobic coverage of the Causeway Cannibal:

1. Kristen Gwynne, “Dumb and Dangerous Anti-Drug Propaganda in the Miami Zombie Story,” AlterNet.org. 31 May 2012. LINK
2. Jacob Sullum, “If You Use Drugs, You Might End Up Eating Someone’s Face,” Reason.com, 29 May 2012. LINK
3. Maia Szalavitz, “Why Drugs Are Getting a Bum Rap in the Miami Face-Eating Attack,” Time.com, 30 May 2012. LINK

Addendum (June 28, 2012) – The full toxicology report of Rudy Eugene released on June 27, 2012 reported that the only drug found in his body was marijuana. The common chemicals in drugs sold as bath salts were absent. LINK


1. Mikkel Arendt, et al., “Testing the Self-Medication Hypothesis of Depression and Aggression ….,” Psychol. Med., 2007, 37.
2. Eric Elbogen & Sally Johnson, “Intricate Link Between Violence and Mental Disorder,” Arch. Gen. Psychiatry, Feb. 2009.
3. Gus Garcia-Roberts, “Rudy Eugene to Mother in 2004 ….,” MiamiNewTimes.com, 30 May 2012.
4. Rodney Myerscough & Stuart Taylor, “Effects of Marijuana on Human Physical Aggression,” J. Pers. Soc. Psychol., 1985, 49(6).
5. Rick Nauert, “Mental Illness Does Not Predict Violence,” PsychCentral.com, 26 Feb. 2009.

In Defense of Drug Dealers: The Pusher Myth

Posted: May 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: addiction, cocaine, drugs, media bias | 5 Comments »

Drug Pusher Myth

In the late ’00s I was friends with a cocaine dealer. Everyone I knew thought he was a great guy.

Since we were in the same social circle, I was also acquainted with dozens of his customers. Only one of them arguably had a cocaine problem, and he was not an out-of-control addict.* His friends merely thought he used cocaine too often and spent too much money on it. Cocaine’s interference with this customer’s job was minimal. It was certainly not any more of a hindrance than his periodic binge drinking.

I once asked the dealer about dealing with addicts. He said he refused to sell to them. Out-of-control users were a nuisance. They would come to his place at odd hours unannounced and could be obnoxious and loud. Dealing with these people was dangerous because he wanted to stay as covert as possible to avoid police attention.

The Myth

One of the countless myths underpinning the drug war is that drug dealers “push” drugs on people. This is an asinine stereotype for a couple reasons. First, due to criminalization demand almost always outweighs supply. There is no need for dealers to aggressively sell their product. As the comedian Chris Rock has said:

Drugs sell themselves. It’s crack. It’s not an encyclopedia. It’s not a fucking vacuum cleaner. You don’t really gotta try to sell crack, OK? I’ve never heard a crack dealer go, “Man, how am I going to get rid of all this crack? It’s just piled up in my house.” (6)

(For more of Chris Rock’s opinions on drug dealing go here.)

Second, drug dealing is an illegal activity. Dealers do not want to pester non-drug users for fear that they might report them to the police. Dealers are more wary of their clients than their clients are of them. This reluctance is particularly true for pushing drugs on children. Contrary to their demonic portrayal in the media, dealers are not evil and many of them do not think drugs are appropriate for kids. Also, it would be a stupid risk to take considering most children have guardians watching them and scant income.

When I worked as a public defender, I asked several of my colleagues with decades of experience if they had ever seen a drug dealer prosecuted for selling to a juvenile under the harsh school-zone mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines. None of them had ever heard of it happening. It was frequently police officers baiting dealers into selling to adults in a school zone or adult deals going down at the periphery of one. Because the zone extended over three football fields from any school land, one of my marijuana-dealing clients did not even know he was in a school zone. In another school-zone case an adult deal went down in a private apartment.

Researchers have long known that the drug pusher was largely a myth, but it was not until a 2000 survey that it was quantified. This survey of drug-treatment patients found that less than 1% of them had been introduced to drugs by a professional dealer. In contrast, 19% had been introduced to drugs by a family member. (5)

The Propaganda

Despite this finding, supposedly objective news outlets continue to refer to drug dealers as pushers. A recent New York Daily News article opened with the following sentence, “Fourteen suspected drug pushers were arrested Thursday morning for operating a narcotics ring in two Brooklyn bodegas ….” (2)

The popular media and the government are even worse. Here are some graphic examples from different eras:

A 1971 Green Lantern comic book:

A Blasted Pusher(4)

An award-winning 1994 Partnership for a Drug-Free America public service announcement that bizarrely claimed young kids have to run past drug dealers or else they will be forced to do drugs. It ends with the narrator saying, “To Kevin Scott and all the other kids who take the long way home. We hear you. Don’t give up.”

A 2007 billboard in Central Pennsylvania:
Push Out the Pusher

For more examples see “The Aggressive Drug Dealer” page at TVTropes.org.

* This dependence rate is not surprising as cocaine dependence rates are similar to alcohol’s. (1) In addition, the social group that the dealer and I shared had several characteristics that ameliorate addiction risk. They were older, had above-average intelligence, and were not impoverished. (3)


1. James Anthony, Lynn Warner, & Ronald Kessler, “Comparative Epidemiology of Dependence ….,” Exp. Clin. Psychopharmacol., 1994, 2(3), p. 251.
2. Sarah Armaghan, “Police Nab 14 in Drug Ring Operating Out of Brooklyn Bodegas,” NYDailyNews.com, 27 Apr. 2012. LINK
3. Robert Arthur, “Addictive Personality and the Non-Randomness of Addiction,” Narco Polo (blog), 5 Oct. 2011. LINK
4. Green Lantern, Vol. 2, #85, Aug. 1971. LINK
5. “One in Five Drug Abusers Needing Treatment Did Drugs with Parents,” PRNewswire, 24 Aug. 2000. LINK
6. Chris Rock, Bring the Pain (1996).