Pubdate: Sat, 14 Oct 2006
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company
Author: Carolyn Marshall
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


SAN FRANCISCO - A leading medical marijuana advocate who successfully 
appealed his federal conviction this year has been indicted on new 
criminal charges that include tax evasion and money laundering.

The man, Ed Rosenthal, a well-known spokesman for the movement to 
legalize marijuana, was already facing a retrial on federal charges 
of growing marijuana for medical use. He is to be arraigned Monday in 
Federal District Court here on the new indictment, unsealed late Thursday.

It accuses Mr. Rosenthal, 61, of 14 felony charges that include 
cultivating marijuana plants; laundering $1,850, which the government 
says he got from selling the plants to medical dispensaries; and tax 
evasion. His tax returns, prosecutors said, omitted income from the 
sale of the plants.

Reached Friday at his home in Oakland, Mr. Rosenthal said he thought 
the efforts to prosecute him were part of a campaign to shutter 
medical marijuana sites in California and to subvert the state law 
allowing them.

"They want to shut me up," he said. "They are vindictive. They don't 
like anybody beating them, and they will go after you again and again 
until they wear you down."

The state and the federal government have been locked in a legal and 
cultural battle over the medicinal merits of marijuana since 1996, 
when California voters approved a ballot measure giving seriously ill 
patients the right to buy and use the drug with a doctor's prescription.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has been aggressive in investigating 
medical marijuana facilities. Last week, the authorities raided and 
closed five Bay Area sites, arresting 15 people.

A spokesman for the United States attorney's office, Luke Macaulay, 
would not comment on the new indictment, but said, "Drugs are a 
priority for the Justice Department, being that marijuana is illegal 
under federal law."

The new charges against Mr. Rosenthal are similar to those in a 2002 
federal indictment. At the time, Mr. Rosenthal worked for the City of 
Oakland and was sanctioned under city and state laws to grow 
marijuana plants and sell them to dispensaries. He was convicted by a 
jury, but a federal appeals court overturned the decision, citing 
juror misconduct. He was granted a new trial, and prosecutors were 
moving forward, but the new federal indictment supersedes the earlier one. 
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