After a five-day trial, a jury on Friday found Maryland native Jonathan Wall guilty of partaking in a years-long, coast-to-coast cannabis trafficking scheme.
Wall’s trial, which kicked off Monday with protests and a blaring billboard truck outside the federal courthouse in downtown Baltimore, culminated Friday with closing arguments, less than two hours of jury deliberations and a guilty verdict.
Wall faces a minimum of 10 years to life in prison. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled, and he remains detained in a maximum security facility in Baltimore.
Relying on testimony from informants — Wall was indicted alongside 10 others — federal prosecutors painted a portrait of the 27-year-old as a mastermind of a transcontinental drug-trafficking conspiracy that moved more than 1,000 kilograms, or over 2,200 pounds, of cannabis from California, to Maryland from 2016 to 2019.
In court filings, federal prosecutors wrote Wall engaged in the scheme knowing all of this was illegal and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. But his family, attorney and advocates have depicted his case as one of federal overreach and uneven legal treatment of cannabis in a country where 18 states plus Washington D.C. (and counting) have legalized it for adult use.
Wall’s attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, unsuccessfully tried to have the case tossed multiple times “due to disparate and arbitrary enforcement” of federal drug laws. Meanwhile, Wall was detained in at least five different detention centers while being transported back to Maryland — a move his family described as “diesel therapy” punishment. — before being detained in Baltimore’s supermax Chesapeake Detention Center jail for the last two years.
The case drew national scrutiny, including from The New York Times, which on Friday reported on the verdict in a piece that highlighted the decline in federal prosecutions of cannabis trafficking over the last decade. The Department of Justice seeking the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for Wall has shaken advocates, who decried the move as emblematic of the unjust, ongoing federal criminalization of cannabis.
Wall’s mother, Mitzi Wall, broke down in tears as the verdict was announced on Friday. “I don’t have the right words,” she told The Outlaw Report after the trial.
That context played little role in this case, however, under orders from U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher. Days before the trial began, Gallagher granted a DOJ motion to bar any talk of legalization policies at trial because, according to prosecutors, such “evidence and argument of this sort is not relevant” given cannabis’ ongoing federally illegality.
The court also imposed stricter-than-usual measures over the five days in court, specifically banning phones from the courtroom and any digital devices, including laptops, from the courthouse itself.
From the first day in court, advocates and Wall’s family said they were surprised by the strict rules that dominated the trial, from courthouse rules down to the questions used to screen jurors.
“This is stacking the deck,” said Wall’s father, Jonathan Wall Sr.
(Gaspard Le Dem contributed reporting to this story.)