Media Awareness Project



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #278 September 27, 2003

Ed Rosenthal is recognized worldwide as an authority on marijuana. In his thirty-plus years as a cannabis expert, he has written or edited more than a dozen books about marijuana cultivation and social policy, that cumulatively have sold over one million copies. Rosenthal has also been active in promoting and developing policies of civil regulation for medical marijuana. Since the passage of California's pioneering Prop 215 in 1996, which authorizes medicinal use of marijuana, he has worked with the state's growers, dispensaries, and local governments to standardize and implement the delivery of pharmaceutical grade cannabis to patients.

On February 12, 2002, Ed was arrested by federal agents for applying his knowledge and helping patients to use medical marijuana. He has since been convicted of three counts of cultivation and conspiracy. In a stunning setback for the federal government, he was sentenced on June 4th, 2003 to one-day in prison and a $1,000 fine. Thanks to the efforts of Green Aid and a crack legal team, Ed now faces probation instead of a statutory maximum of 100 years imprisonment and possible fines up to $4.5 million.

Most people would steer clear of controversy after facing the wrath of the federal government's drug war machine. Not Ed Rosenthal. Ed has refused to tone down his outspoken criticism of the war on marijuana. Less than a week after kicking off the Marijuana Policy Project's new medical marijuana Political Action Committee (PAC) in the nation's capital, Ed lambasted the feds in an excellent Sep. 26th op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. Although the op-ed has inspired legal debate on drug policy lists as to whether probation results in the loss of voting rights (some experts say only parole does), there is no denying that Ed is a hero to the movement.

The Bush administration picked the wrong high-profile activist if they thought Ed Rosenthal would go away quietly. Write the San Francisco Chronicle today to show your support for Ed - and your disgust for the federal government's ongoing efforts to undermine voter-approved medical marijuana legislation.

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Source: San Francisco Chronicle


While the Chronicle recommends that letters to the editor be restricted to 200 words, our own analysis of published letters shows that the average printed letter is 146 words. These appear to fall into about two equal groups, slightly under 100 words and in the 200 word range - the largest being 236 words. The Chronicle will often print three or four letters if well written and different in content that respond to the same editorial or OPED. And they do print letters from out of state, indeed from as far away as Canada.


Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2003 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Ed Rosenthal



The California gubernatorial recall is the first election in which I will not be voting since I turned 18, 40 years ago. It's not my disgust with what I consider a "coup attempt" by the extreme right that keeps me from the polls. It's my three felony convictions related to cultivating medicinal marijuana.

Although I was spared prison time, the loss of my voting rights is cruel punishment for me, because I have always been politically and civically active.

It is remarkable that I ended up with the felonies, since I had been deputized by the city of Oakland and promised immunity from prosecution for providing medicine to qualified patients.

Still, I feel a certain satisfaction about the recall campaign. I watched one of my daydreams come true in the first debate. Medical marijuana was the only issue that all the candidates agreed upon: all pledged to uphold California's marijuana laws. State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Northridge, the most conservative, was the most ardent -- stating that the federal government should stay out of the state's business.

When Dennis Peron opened San Francisco's first medical marijuana dispensary nearly 10 years ago, there was virtually unanimous agreement among politicians and the criminal justice community that marijuana wasn't a medicine. Furthermore, the risk was too great for the medicine to be permitted. What a difference a decade makes. In 1994, no reporter would have asked the question, but if they had, every candidate would have pledged to redouble efforts to eliminate "the assassin of youth."

All the candidates agreed that medical marijuana should be "legal," but there are definite differences in their attitudes toward what legal means and who should decide. This is significant, because some California state agencies are still at war against this popular medicine. The California attorney general's Medical Board is prosecuting doctors based on complaints. Neither patients, their caregivers, nor their loved ones are complaining. No, all the complaints are being filed by officers or prosecutors thwarted when they attempt to arrest or prosecute a patient. Police and prosecutors in some counties have declared war on medical patients, spending an inordinate amount of time and taxpayers' money to harass people whose only crime is that they are ill.

State probation and parole orders sometimes limit use of medical marijuana, even in life-threatening cases. Could you imagine the uproar if a judge denied a diabetic the use of insulin?

These actions are being fueled by the inflammatory rhetoric of the California Narcotic Officers' Association. The organization denies that marijuana has any medical use and encourages police and prosecutors to view all medical cases as bogus. Its lobbyists use obstructionist tactics and threaten legislators inclined to vote to implement provisions of Proposition 215, California's medical marijuana law. CNOA functions as a clique of verbal terrorists fighting against patient's rights.

The problem with the implementation of Proposition 215 is that it is based on the "stakeholders theory," where all the interested parties reach a compromise. This policy may work for water rights, but it is insane when patients' health is compromised. The idea that the criminal justice system is a stakeholder in a health and medical issue is ridiculous on its face. The police have training only in identifying marijuana and arresting its owners. They have no cultivation expertise, know next to nothing about the herb's medical use and have no sociological knowledge to lend to the discussion. The police's only vested interest in marijuana is using tax dollars to arrest and incarcerate users of any type, recreational or medical. The police industry's influence in this medical and sociological debate is inappropriate, since their representatives mostly deny marijuana's medical benefits and view arrests as an employment issue.

That's why this recall campaign is such a watershed. All the candidates accept marijuana as medicine. How each one would implement the law is of prime importance to the 70,000 Californians holding medical marijuana recommendations. Will patients using this exceedingly safe herbal medicine continue to be held hostage to "stakeholders" whose interest is a high arrest count? Ironically, though I am now barred from voting, the issues that were brought to the surface in my case are reverberating through this campaign. I am hopeful of winning my appeal and having my rights restored. I would like to vote again soon.


Dear Editor,

Few Americans realize that the United States is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish otherwise law-abiding citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Evidence of the U.S. government's reefer madness is best exemplified by the Bush administration's prosecution of marijuana expert Ed Rosenthal.

The federal government's paramilitary raids on voter-approved medical marijuana providers in California says a lot about our government's bizarre sense of priorities. The very same federal government that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers. Apparently marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.


Juan Costo

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