Nevada Medical Marijuana Patient Freed by Jury Nullification

After nearly three years of legal limbo, Steven Ficano, a 65 year old medical marijuana patient, was finally set free by an act of jury nullification last month. On May 29, Ficano was found not guilty of two felony counts for possessing too much marijuana. He faced over ten years in prison if he had been convicted.

The case against Ficano, a long time local business man with no criminal history and a registered medical marijuana patient, revolved around the amount of marijuana in his possession at one time and prosecutors’ contention that this indicated he was selling it.

National Jury Rights Day is September 5th. Don't forget to fully inform the potential jurors in your community.

National Jury Rights Day is September 5th.

At the time of his arrest, Ficano was in possession of 68 plants and 24 pounds of finished marijuana. Nevada medical marijuana laws limit patients to 12 plants and 2.6 ounces of finished marijuana, but Ficano had a waiver from a doctor stating that he could possess more than that limit. Those limits are also based on a three month growth period and Ficano stated that he only harvested the plants in his possession once a year.

Defense attorneys maintained that the aspect of the rules regarding how much could be possessed were ambiguous, hadn’t been explained properly to Ficano, and that the lack of proper dispensaries are what led him to feel the need to store large quantities of cannabis. They also presented three of his neighbors, including a former policeman, as witnesses that testified they did not believe Ficano would ever sell marijuana.

Prosecutors attempted to use the large amount of marijuana in his possession, and the discovery of a digital scale, more than $51,000 in cash, and 26 guns, as well as the lack of “a single pot baked-good located in his home,” during the raid, as proof he was intending to sell it. However, the guns were antique lever-action rifles, collectible pistol sets, and historic muskets.

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In addition, the money was Ficano’s life savings that he had removed from the bank during the recession, some of the marijuana had developed mold from having been stored so long, and most of the plants were either male plants or ones that had not matured enough to produce buds. Pretty much none of that was indicative of a drug sales operation.

Within an hour, jurors, some of whom cried along with Ficano after the verdict was read, voted to acquit him of all charges. Later, several jurors stated that their decision was based on sympathy for Ficano’s medical conditions, which included arthritis, scoliosis, and pain from a recent car accident, and not the “letter of the law.”

Via the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) website (by way of Southern Nevada Watchdogs):

Outside the courtroom, jurors said they focused on the doctor’s waiver, and said they didn’t think the document clearly defined how much pot Ficano could have at his home.

The waiver allowed him to possess 29 plants and 2 to 4 pounds of finished marijuana per three-month growing cycle. But Ficano said he only harvested marijuana once a year and assumed that he would be allowed to have up to 84 plants and 16 pounds of finished medicine.

Another juror, Donna Florence, said that after reaching the verdict she thought of her mother, who died of cancer about two years ago.

“If I could have gotten something for her that would have spared her that pain, I would have done anything,” she said. “And I think this guy was just in similar pain and trying to help himself.”

Click Here For Information On Your Rights as a Juror

Click Here For Information On Your Rights as a Juror

So it’s pretty clear, even if they didn’t actually realize that they were doing it, that the jurors used jury nullification (AKA their conscience) to protect a good person from a very bad law. Although this is still a rarity and the courts actively work to hide this right from jurors, it’s great that people are becoming aware of this important option for those that sit on juries. This is especially important in cases like this where senseless and counterproductive prohibitions are used as a weapon against people who are clearly not a threat to society or the communities in which they live.

The War on (Some) Drugs is a source of more theft, violence, and other abuses (on both sides of the law) than any drug it purports to fight with very little success at actually preventing drug use along the way. People serving on a jury can and should separate true criminals from someone simply seeking relief from a chronic illness or medical condition. Especially, when that relief comes from something that has consistently been proven to be not just harmless, but actually beneficial in many ways. Fortunately, this jury had enough compassion and moral strength to do the right thing this time.

“Jury Rights Day” 2014 in Las Vegas, courtesy of Southern Nevada Watchdogs:

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About Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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54 Responses to “Nevada Medical Marijuana Patient Freed by Jury Nullification”

  1. Wiregrass Write Up July 2, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    Great news and good reporting Kelly :-)

  2. mobooz July 2, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Sure sounds like he was selling to me. Hope he’s a bit smarter in the future and doesn’t get caught again.

    • Roxanne T Hensley July 4, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

      Nope, not moldy weed.

      • mobooz July 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

        He strikes me as an old-school grower. Probably has an older custoner base, retired cops and the like. They don’t know the difference because they started smoking when you could get a lid of brick weed for a Benjamin. You wouldn’t believe the number of old-timers I meet who swear their schwag is the shit.

  3. CopsKill July 2, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Soon, none of this crap will happen any more. The truth and realty of the plant will be set free !!

    Big oil can’t stop it any more…big pharmaceutical can’t stop it any more…the federal government has to acknowledge it’s medical uses
    The plant will save the planet….help us stop killing her

    http://www.thestonerscookbook.com/article/2015/06/24/us-helps-enable-marijuana-research/

    • t July 2, 2015 at 11:11 am #

      At least the officers were able to drag this patient through the court process and make him suffer…so we were able to do some good…and the truth is…officers are much smarter than stoners.

      If they were smart enough to be officers…they would be…everyone wants to be us.

      • vegas jack July 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

        Fake t, you annoy me more than real t.

        • t July 2, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

          Acknowledge the supremacy of officers…and then we can talk.

          • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

            Idiot, you started talking anyway. You don’t even understand your own language. If you did, the message would be clear: the people don’t care what the cops think anymore. You’re all ego and no intellect.

      • libertyordeath July 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

        And now there going to shell out millions of $$$$ for the wrongful arrest and prosecution.

        Hope he goes after the individual officers pensions and badges too…

        • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

          I don’t think he’ll have much of a case since he wasn’t acquitted.

      • steve July 3, 2015 at 6:11 am #

        All the cops I know smoke it .

      • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

        They don’t hire smart people to be cops. If the cops are so smart, why is marijuana the number one cash crop in the US, as it has been since the 80s? And while the cops dragged this guy through the legal wringer, he may have just brough it to its knees. Jury nullification is govzilla’s worst nightmare. And, if so many people want to be cops, why do they end up with such a bunch of knuckle dragging morons in uniform? Only an idiot bootlicker would think that anyone wants to be like them. There are anti police protests all over the country. You must be on stupid pills.

  4. keepitreal July 2, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    24 pounds of weed for 1 year’s personal use, huh? So 2 pounds per month. Roughly 1/2 pound per week, or a little more than an ounce per day. He can’t be selling, I don’t think he has the time. He’s too busy doing bong rips every 10 minutes or so.

    • mobooz July 2, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      The saddest part is that his neighbors are actually so satisfied with moldy, seedy schwag that they would testify on his behalf.

    • copsuckerswillhang July 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Snoop dog smokes 84 blunts a day.

      I know people that go threw a ounce every day for both smoking and cooking. Sometimes more then a ounce if its a bad day.

      Are you a doctor? Are you the all knowing ganja god?

      Thank you and fuck off troll

      • keepitreal July 3, 2015 at 7:51 am #

        If you’re stupid enough to believe nonsense, that’s your problem. Moron. The go threw an ounce a day, huh? LOL.

  5. JC July 2, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    I read the real article and nowhere did it say he was free by jury nullification. He was either guilty or not. The jury found him not guilty. He did have too many plants as set by the law.

    • RetardJC July 2, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

      How did you servive being so damm stupid? Does your mom still dress you and make you sandwiches everyday? Do you live on welfare? Ssi? There no damm way someone as stupid and inbred as you could provide a living for yourself.

    • Chris Rickard July 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      You know, you can’t really twist your way out of this one. Technically this guy DID break the law. However, the jury came to the conclusion that the law was retarded and voted not guilty anyways. That’s textbook jury nullification.

    • steve July 3, 2015 at 6:08 am #

      Load mouth asshole.

      • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

        Whether or not that’s a typo, it was hilarious.

    • John Galt July 3, 2015 at 9:12 am #

      Are you expecting some kind of extra block on the form next to guilty and not guilty?

      Jury nullification is a not guilty verdict where the jury has been convinced the defendant did the crime. The judge’s jury instructions do not permit them to do this – they have to do it on their own.

      • JC July 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

        He wasn’t convicted. The jury didn’t nullify anything.

        • John Galt July 3, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

          So are you saying jury nullification does not exist, or are you saying that jury nullification is something different? If so, how does your vision of jury nullification differ from what happened here? If the jury shared your vision of jury nullification, how might they have acted differently in this case?

        • John Galt July 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

          It is true he wasn’t convicted. The point is that he was technically guilty, and that the jury ignored their instructions and acquitted using their discretion. That’s what nullification is.

  6. mioman July 2, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    LOL..GREAT NEWS screw the prosecutor. i would have loved to see there faces judge/prosecutor that would have been priceless put a man in prison for growing to much of a plant. you got to be some kind of a idiot

  7. copblock18017 July 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Great article and video.

  8. DecorumPlease July 2, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

    This is awesome.

  9. Rob Samuel July 3, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    good

  10. steve July 3, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    If marijuana is so bad and unhealthy why is Willie Nelson still alive.

    • Common Sense July 3, 2015 at 6:25 am #

      He’s 1/8th zombie.

      • RaymondbyEllis July 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

        I think that puts Keith Richards at about 1/3rd zombie…okay, maybe 1/2.

        • Common Sense July 3, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

          Him and maybe a 3/16ths for Tom Waits

    • RaymondbyEllis July 3, 2015 at 9:57 am #

      Why is Keith Richards still alive? Heroin, the healthy alternative when combined with cigarettes?

  11. Common Sense July 3, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    “Not guilty” and “jury nullification” are two separate things.

    • Roxanne T Hensley July 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Yes, they are. Would you rather he was found guilty?

    • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

      Exactly. But they are not very different insofar as double jeopardy applies. And jury nullification, if it becomes known, undermines the

      hegemony of govzilla. The only true capital government has is the cooperation of the populace. Govzilla will be forced to repeal progibition of marijuana to try to maintain the appearance of control. Jury nullification has many more far reaching consequences than any acquittal could have.

  12. Citizen July 3, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    I was charged here in cincinnati, ohio with possesion and trafficking when I picked up a pound of marijuana which i ordered from california, after it was intercepted from the local renu task force. After they jumped out on me, i agreed to let them search my house. I had no baggies, scales, or anything of that nature. What they did take was a grinder and a small mason jar with about a half ounce of shake. I was still charged with possession and trafficking. I admitted that i sold a couple grams a while back to a co worker who was stressing. I was using marijuana to help with my anxiety, lower back pain, and glaucoma in which i was diagnosed with and been treating since I was nine years of age. I am prescribed xanax in which i have been prescribed for years now but refuse to take them because it makes me black out. Im prescribed Percocet for pain but I’m not a big fan of taking narcotics. I have been on eyedrops for years to control my intraocular pressure in my eyes but the marijuana has kept my levels satisfactory. My lawyer(public defender) freaked out and was to timid to take it to trial. I ended up peading guilty from pressure from my lawyer and was sentenced to two years probation and $1100 fine. This war on marijuana is nothing but a way to rob people of money and collect profits, and for police to climb the ranking ladder. Its complete bull shit. Stay away from Cincinnati, ohio! Come here on vacation, leave on probation.

  13. RaymondbyEllis July 3, 2015 at 8:14 am #

    And yet with all the argument over how much can be smoked per day, fools buying moldy pot yet testifying for him, and JCs total fail on jury nullification by his very own hand “He did have too many plants as set by the law”, still the guy was found not guilty.

    BTW, smoking a lot of marijauna per day leads to COPD too. It’s the smoke, guys, the smoke. Doesn’t matter what you are burning or how you filter it. (And please don’t go into smog, particulates, etc., yes they contribute. And don’t bring up I know this guy that smoked two packs a day of unfiltered Lucky Strikes. It’s the smoke that gives you by far the greatest statistical chance, and pot smokers ignore it.)

    • Regected July 3, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      That’s like saying dust causes lung cancer. After all, it’s dust from asbestos that causes lung cancer, so dust from any other source does the same thing. Right?

      • RaymondbyEllis July 3, 2015 at 9:55 am #

        And silica dust causes silicosis, so since asbestos is dust it must cause silicosis cuz dust from any other source must cause silicosis. Right?

        Smoke from any burning material is composed of what? How many compounds? That you inhale directly into your lungs day after day…Are there studies going both ways on smoking pot? Sure, the one over occasional users found none (though unsure whether it was over the deep breathing involved, and occasional user was a hoot), the one over heavy users found a decrease in lung function but the study group was too small. The reason it is so clear in cigarette smokers is that their usage is so much greater than the pot smokers in the studies.

        As for cancer, no one has done that study as far I know.

        However, if you’re a heavy pot smoker and think breathing smoke into your lungs day in and day out will have no affect on your lungs, please continue. Our lungs weren’t made for it.

    • Dave McKeen July 4, 2015 at 11:17 am #

      Strange comment since Cannabis cured my COPD. I’ve gone from over 120 pills a day and four inhalers to just 6 pills a day and no inhalers at all. Where did you get your rumors from? The Government perhaps?

      • RaymondbyEllis July 4, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

        Gee, Dave, you found the cure to COPD. Just smoke pot (it does have a vaso-dilation effect). You should get your study of one published in JAMA.

        You took 120 pills per day for COPD? What did you take? And you went through 6 inhalers per day? Guy, that’s oxygen territory, pot or not. 120 pills and 6 inhalers? Fuck, guy, you’ve got the lungs of a 200 year old. Glad the pot worked.

        I use Spiriva occasionally, as in not every day, and I’ve been told I have the lung function of someone between 80 to 100 years (actually, one nurse said 140 because I went off the chart that one time). I do have moments of shortness of breath, especially under heavy exertion and when sleeping. But 120 pills (of what?) and 6 inhalers per day is oxygen territory.

        ” Where did you get your rumors from? The Government perhaps?” Nope, one’s just common sense, our lungs aren’t made for smoke day in and day out (the cillia take exception, the particulates lodge, the lungs go black) over decades. The other is the studies, occasional use (like 1-3 joints a month) has no effect, but heavy smoking may decrease lung function. The joke is that there are no studies on cigarette smokers that smoke 1-3 cigarettes per month, and heavy pot use may not match the normal 1 pack per day smoker. If it did, I would bet the studies would point to lung damage with a statistical prediction of COPD in the population.

        I’m not saying I don’t believe you over the 120 pills per day and the 6 inhalers, but that’s only because I’m remaining silent. And I have had COPD (I see birds and parks and a grandfather nurturing his grandchildren…) for 12 years (okay that’s from the moment of diagnosis…). 120 pills and six inhalers per day cured by a joint?

        I’m going to have to ask my doctor why I’m not getting even 20 pills per day, and then demand a Medical Marijuana prescription. Would it be okay if I avoided the smoke and ate it in brownies or on pizza?

        • Dave McKeen July 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

          I never said that COPD was the only condition I was being treated for. I actually stopped using inhalers after breathing the air from my growing plants for just one week. After 30 years of being called a wheeze machine my doctors say my lungs are now clear. I’m in Canada and have my license to use and grow. I have been able to stop all heart medications (9) Reduced my morphine use by 90% for chronic pain and stopped all other forms of pain pills. I`m in my sixties and have been HIV + for 29 years this fall. The cannabis has even turned my white hair back to dirty blond. I use a gram of oil a day in three doses. Topical application over arthritic joints because my L5 has disintegrated from a disk rupturing car accident only to become arthritic and aggravated by scar tissue, My doctors are very happy with the changes in my health and it is being documented in several data bases.

          • RaymondbyEllis July 10, 2015 at 2:20 am #

            No, you said this “Strange comment since Cannabis cured my COPD. I’ve gone from over 120
            pills a day and four inhalers to just 6 pills a day and no inhalers at
            all.” You left out all those other conditions, I only had COPD from your comment. I’m not a mind reader.

            And please, you inhaled the air from your growing plants and the inhalers gone in just a week? All that inert lung tissue, damaged beyond repair, unable to expand and contract, even ruptured, miraculously healed by THC?

            Sorry, Dave, I only see a study of one with all the problems attached.

            The clinical studies of THC aren’t as glowing.

          • Dave McKeen July 10, 2015 at 11:12 am #

            How many people getting the same results without being in a “Proper” study do you need before such a study is warrented. Also you need a study that is looking for positive results instead of the Governments demand that only research looking for harm are funded. Why with the billions of joints a year consumed is not everyone who consumes them sick but instead healthier than their counter parts? My lungs are now clear and to call it a study of one is silly. Do a search using “Cannabis cured my COPD” and see what you get. Using Yahoo without content blocks gives just under 200,000 hits. Is that a big enough study size for you? I’m done replying as I’m as fixed in my belief as you are in your denial.

          • RaymondbyEllis July 11, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

            One, you’d have to prove that the only research is directed, funding or otherwise, to find weed harmful. I gave you one report for occasional, really occasional, users with a 50 cc improvement in lung function. They were honest enough to think about the deep breathing that weed users employ. They even said a joint a day may not damage lung function.

            Two, you can’t claim pot smokers are healthier than non-pot smokers. There’s no evidence to meet the claim. There is evidence that for under 25 it damages your brain like alcohol. There is evidence that heavy usage reduces lung function.

            “My lungs are now clear and to call it a study of one is silly.” No, because you are one person making a claim, when you can give me a good double-blind study that proves weed cures COPD I’ll go for the card and flip the finger to the Feds. Otherwise, your telling me to just put more smoke in my lungs. BTW, my wife did have a MM card, her lungs almost shut down from it. She had asthma as a kid and a lot of lung infections as a kid. You’re a study of one.

            “Cannabis cured my COPD” and see what you get. Using Yahoo without content blocks gives just under 200,000 hits.” “Vitamin C cured my COPD” gives 429,000 hits on Google. By your measure you should shift to vitamin C, twice the chance to cure COPD.

            And from that this makes little sense ” I’m as fixed in my belief as you are in your denial.” Your belief may be batshit and my denial may be from all sorts of evidence beyond your one case. Imputing “denial” is the argument of crazies. Sidney Hook didn’t speak to it directly, he was dealing with the crazy left, but he coined a phrase “epithet of abuse” to put a phrase to the crazy.

            If you aren’t using vitamin C over pot, you’re in denial. it has twice the hits of weed for curing COPD so it must be twice as good, and it’s always legal. Guy, you descended into the anti-vaxxer, the Creationist, and, unfortunately, the Climate Scientist (they should know better) argument.

            What part of drawing smoke into your lungs don’t you understand?

    • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

      How do you know this? Do you have COPD from smoking weed? How did you eliminate all the other possible factors? Then poison the well against anecdotal evidence while you just make totally unsubstantiated claims.

      • RaymondbyEllis July 10, 2015 at 2:44 am #

        Look, I think weed should be made legal. Not because it’s a miracle weed that cures all ills and leads to world peace, but because the illegality is a greater cost to our society in all ways than the cost of being legal.. That goes from the cost of arresting people for it to the mind set it creates in police of weed smokers being addicts like the users of heroin, cocaine (and it’s derivatives), and alcohol (police forget the last because it’s legal and they are in the category of worst abusers). Moreover, for some cartels its the sale that turns on the lights.

        But look at the studies over lung function, the only one that measured heavy users was too small but it did find lung impairment. Do you want to maintain that the smoke from weed doesn’t affect the lungs if you smoke weed equivalent in mass to a cigarette smoker? A cigarette smoker smoking 1 cigarette per day, let alone 2 to 3 per month, is in such low risk it isn’t studied.

        Why do you think weed smoke is magical?

        Oops, I don’t have to poison the well against anecdotal evidence, anecdotal evidence is a poisoned well. Anecdotal evidence is unsubstantiated by it’s very nature. It’s subjective. If we approved drugs by anecdote, well you know the outcome. Worse than real studies involving double-blind methodology.

        Edit: I have made changes for clarity. You may want to respond to the final edit if only because I won’t know what the hell you’re talking about if you don’t. I’ve moved on.

  14. t July 3, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    Funny thing…you rejoice here but hate when juries do this for cops.

    • RaymondbyEllis July 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      Not me, I take it just like the OJ verdict, it’s the system.

      I do take exception to jury nullification as used in the KKK South back in the halcyon days of police supporting the morally repugnant American apartheid, but that’s just me.

    • Arcanek July 6, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

      The cops almost never go to trial, because they investigate themselves. And what case involving the trial of an officer was ever decided by jury nullification?

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