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Barnstead resident cleared of marijuana manufacture in jury nullification

On Thursday, The Union Leader reported that a New Hampshire jury delivered a "not guilty" verdict in the case of Doug Darell, who was charged with manufacture of marijuana in 2009 after a National Guard helicopter spotted the plants growing on his property.

Despite the fact that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Darell did manufacture the drug, the jury cited that his religion, Rastafarianism, nullified the criminal charges. If he had been convicted of the felony, Darell would have faced three-and-a-half to seven years in prison.

The defense demonstrated that use of the illegal substance was a critical part of his religion, which he has practiced since the 1980s. Darell has no other criminal history and reportedly uses marijuana more often for teas than smoking. He has been married for 38 years and has four grown children.

One of the jurors, Cathleen Converse, told the newspaper, "Mr. Darrell seemed to be the only victim here. Almost everyone said this just shouldn't have happened to these peaceful people."

Since his arrest three years ago, Darell refused all plea bargains presented to him, deeming them unjust due to the religious nature of his use of the plants.

The newspaper expanded on the jury's rare decision to declare Darell innocent. In New Hampshire, a court can nullify the verdict in a case even if the prosecution demonstrates commission of an offense.

Superior Court Judge James O'Neill made the decision to educate the jury about the nullification option during the trial, which proved to be essential to the defense's case.

If you have been accused of a crime in the Granite State, an experienced New Hampshire criminal lawyer can help argue your case in court and ensure that you receive a fair trial.

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