Pubdate: Fri, 13 Oct 2006
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Page: B - 9
Copyright: 2006 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal, who successfully appealed his federal
convictions for growing plants for a San Francisco medical marijuana
club, was indicted again Thursday on an expanded set of charges,
including filing false tax returns and money laundering.

The 2003 trial of Rosenthal, the "Ask Ed" columnist of High Times
magazine and an authority on marijuana cultivation, drew national
attention and ended in a one-day prison sentence, a disavowal of the
guilty verdicts by a majority of the jury, and an eventual reversal
this April. An appeals court said a juror who had qualms about the
case committed misconduct by phoning an attorney friend for advice.

In the new grand jury indictment, Rosenthal, 61, of Oakland, was
charged with 14 felonies, including conspiracy to manufacture
marijuana at his Oakland warehouse and distribute it to the Harm
Reduction Center, a San Francisco dispensary, between 2000 and 2002.

Those were similar to the charges in a 2002 indictment. The new
charges include four counts of laundering money -- four transactions
totaling about $1,850 -- to conceal its source as the proceeds of
marijuana sales, and five counts of filing tax returns that failed to
list his marijuana income.

Rosenthal, reached at home, said the indictment was part of the
federal government's campaign to shut down medical marijuana clubs.

"What they're trying to show is that they can close down anybody, a
legitimate club, a legitimate provider who's sanctioned by the city,"
he said, referring to his official status as an agent in Oakland's
medical marijuana program. "They're trying to stop patients from
getting their medicine."

Rosenthal and his previous co-defendants, Kenneth Hayes of Petaluma
and Richard Watts of San Francisco, were ordered to court for
arraignment on the new charges Monday. Hayes remains a fugitive,
however. Rosenthal said Watts was too ill for trial previously, but he
faces trial on the current charges.

At Rosenthal's 2003 trial, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer refused
to let jurors learn about the intended medical use of the plants and
excluded evidence about Proposition 215, California's 1996 medical
marijuana initiative.

After a majority of the jurors repudiated their guilty verdicts and
urged leniency, Breyer sentenced Rosenthal to the one day in jail he
had already served instead of five years in prison, saying Rosenthal
had believed he was acting legally at a time when the law was unsettled.
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