Pubdate: Mon, 07 Apr 2003
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003 The Press Democrat
Author: Guy Kovner 
Related: please visit for updates from activists
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Sonoma County Judge Offers Support At Sebastopol Fund-Raiser For Rosenthal 

SEBASTOPOL -- Laws against marijuana are "on their way out," pot author,
advocate and convicted cultivator Ed Rosenthal told a sympathetic crowd of
about 80 people at a fund-raiser Sunday night in Sebastopol.

Sonoma County Judge Elliot Daum spoke in support of Rosenthal at the event,
along with two doctors who advocate the medicinal use of marijuana. Taking
public stands on political issues is unusual among local jurists.

"I found, quite frankly, the prosecution of Ed Rosenthal to be obscene,"
said Daum, the first public defender ever elected judge in Sonoma County.

"I wish Ed luck in the future with this," he added later.

Daum took personal credit for returning marijuana to local users who were
found to be using the drug in keeping with an agreement between pot
advocates and the county District Attorney's Office.

Rosenthal, wearing a black shirt with green marijuana leaves, railed against
President Bush's religious beliefs, the war in Iraq, and the slumping
economy -- sometimes pounding the lectern -- before addressing the case that
has made him an international celebrity.

Rosenthal, 58, an Oakland book publisher who is married and has two
children, faces up to 40 years in prison on federal pot cultivation charges.

His case has become the crux of a legal and political debate over the
conflict between California's Proposition 215, the medicinal pot measure
approved by voters in 1996, and federal law, upheld by the U.S. Supreme
Court in May 2001, which does not recognize marijuana as medicine.

Seven Sonoma County men who, like Rosenthal, were growing marijuana for
medicinal use have been arrested, charged or sentenced in federal

Five jurors in Rosenthal's case, including jury foreman Charles Sackett of
Sebastopol, issued a public apology a week after they convicted him on Jan.
31 and demanded the judge grant him a new trial.

Rosenthal's lawyers filed a motion last week alleging juror misconduct as
grounds for a new trial. That motion will be considered Tuesday by U.S.
District Judge Charles Breyer, whom Rosenthal lampooned Sunday night despite
warnings that Breyer probably will be the sentencing judge.

"With Breyer as judge, it was sort of redundant to have a prosecutor,"
Rosenthal told the crowd at the Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Building.

In a joking mood, Rosenthal disputed doctors' contentions that no serious
negative side effects have been documented from the medicinal use of pot.
"Marijuana does cause hysteria in people opposed to its use," he said.

The event was a "joint benefit," fliers said, for Rosenthal's legal defense
fund, called Green Aid, and the Town Hall Coalition, an Occidental-based
environmental group.

Rosenthal, who is free on $500,000 bail, said his legal expenses already
exceed $200,000, although his lawyers are not pressing him for payment.

Toben Dilworth, program manager of the coalition, said the group, which
normally focuses on land-use issues, decided to sponsor Rosenthal's
appearance out of concern for government "assaults on civil liberties."

The medical pot issue became "personal," Dilworth said, when coalition
members found marijuana helpful in enduring chemotherapy treatments for
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