An Ocean County jury this week convicted an Atlantic County man for growing marijuana in the Pine Barrens.
Jon Peditto, 54, maintained throughout his trial in Toms River that he grew the 17 marijuana plants found by police in Tuckerton in 2012, according to a NJ.com report.
Authorities also found more than three pounds of marijuana in his home, APP.com reported.
He was charged with maintaining a drug production facility, possession of marijuana and two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
The jury convicted Peditto on Thursday of operating a marijuana production facility and marijuana possession but acquitted him of intent to distribute marijuana, according to the APP.com report.
Peditto, who represented himself at trial, said prosecutors were making him out to be a pot tycoon but really he’s just a gardener trying to cultivate a better strain. He said the marijuana was for his own use and that he would occasionally sell it to family and friends in order to supplement his income.
He sought a jury nullification defense in the hopes that the jury would acquit him on the basis that he should not be punished for the act, despite admitting growing marijuana, because the law is immoral or wrongly applied.
“How can they put this guy in prison knowing others are making money and being treated with it!” said marijuana activist Edward Forchion, better known as “NJ Weedman.”
The 54-year-old photographer faces up to 20 years in state prison when he is sentenced for operating a drug production facility.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.