Pot grower who had NJ 101.5 hosts’ sympathy jailed for 8 years
Jon Peditto — the Mays Landing man found guilty of maintaining a drug production facility after growing 17 pot plants in the Pinelands — has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
The sentence was handed down Friday, according to multiple reports. Judge James Blaney sentenced Peditto under second-degree offense guidelines — putting side first-degree crime requirements that called for a sentence of up to 20 years, NJ Advance Media reports.
Peditto had represented himself in the case — arguing unsuccessfully for jury nullification of the charges against him, which also included two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and one count of possession of marijuana.
He'd admitted growing the plants, but said throughout his trial that they were for his own use, only occasionally selling some to friends and relatives.
However, according to multiple accounts of his trial last year, prosecutors showed a video during his trial of his interview with police in which he spoke about using the $5,000 he made from selling the marijuana to supplement his income as a wedding photographer/
NJ Advance Media reports that Judge James Blaney called Peditto's representation of himself "shortsighted," and his quest to have marijuana legalized through jury nullifcation "misguided."
"Watching him and the way he conducted himself led me to believe that some of his cognitive brain functions appear to be affected by smoking marijuana since he was 15 years old," the report quotes Blaney saying. "His mental process, at times, seemed to be confused."
Peditto earned the sympathy of several New Jersey 101.5 hosts who argued on its airwaves and on NJ1015.com last year the sentence he was likely facing for growing 17 plants was far too harsh. (New Jersey 101.5 hosts each express their own opinions, which don't necessarily agree with one another, and which don't necessary represent any position of the station itself).
Peditto's girlfriend, Marilu Zahn, told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea in November “He’s doing it for other people more than he’s doing this for himself,” echoing a statement made earlier in the same week by Peditto’s brother, Christopher, also on Spadea's morning show. “He has no prior criminal record. He’s never done anything violent.”
The same day Peditto was convicted, he called into Dennis & Judi's mid-day show, joined by New Jersey's most famous pro-marijuana activist, "NJ Weedman" Ed Forchion.
“When I come home from work, instead of drinking alcohol, I smoke a joint, and that’s it,’ he said.
Both Dennis and Judi said they thought the sentence Peditto was facing — which could have been for up to 36 years — was "ridiculous." They said they'd rather see marijuana made legal than distributed on a black market.
“I’ve been touting nullification as long as I’ve been touting marijuana,” Forchion said on the call.
Several callers to Spadea's show in October also said they thought a potential decades-long punishment was excessive.
“This is not the justice system, this is the injustice system,” John, a police officer who called in from Turner Hill. said.