Pubdate: Fri, 23 Feb 2007
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Josh Richman, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


"Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal is bringing in another martyr of the 
marijuana movement to help him raise funds for his upcoming federal trial.

Tommy Chong -- half of of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo renowned 
for stoner movie classics such as "Up in Smoke" and "Nice Dreams" -- 
will appear a $125-per-head event March 4 at Rosenthal's Lake Avenue 
home in Piedmont. Some advance tickets are available for only $100 at 
Rosenthal's legal defense fund's Web site,

"The party will celebrate how far we've come in legalizing medical 
marijuana as well as provide me with the money I need to fund my 
current trial that is defending all of our rights," Rosenthal, 62, 
said in an e-mail Thursday. He's scheduled to appear in federal court 
March 19, and he estimates his trial and related expenses could cost 
more than $300,000.

Chong was prosecuted, convicted and served nine months in federal 
prison a few years ago as part of a federal crackdown on purveyors of 
drug paraphernalia; he'd financed and promoted a line of glass water 
pipes often used for smoking marijuana, and he said he pleaded guilty 
to prevent charges from being filed against his wife and son. The 
case made Chong, already beloved for his comedy act, a poster boy 
among marijuana advocates.

Famed for his marijuana cultivation books and the "Ask Ed" column he 
wrote for High Times magazine, Rosenthal was convicted of three 
marijuana-growing felonies in 2003, more than a year after federal 
agents raided sites including his Oakland home, an Oakland warehouse 
in which he was growing marijuana, and a San Francisco medical 
marijuana club he supplied.

Medical use of marijuana on a doctor's recommendation is legal under 
state law but prohibited by federal law, so Rosenthal was barred from 
mounting a medical defense at trial. A judge sentenced him to one day 
behind bars -- time he'd already served.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his convictions in 
April 2006, finding juror misconduct -- a juror's conversation with 
an attorney-friend during deliberations -- compromised Rosenthal's 
right to a fair verdict and so warranted a new trial. But the court 
also rejected Rosenthal's claim of immunity from prosecution as an 
officer of Oakland who grew the drug under the city's medical 
marijuana ordinance.

Federal prosecutors filed a new indictment with additional charges in 
October, essentially claiming Rosenthal from October 2001 through 
February 2002 conspired with Kenneth Hayes and Richard Watts to grow 
marijuana at sites on Sixth Street in San Francisco and on Mandela 
Parkway in Oakland; laundered marijuana proceeds by buying four money 
orders totaling $1,854 during that time; and falsified tax returns 
for 1999, 2000 and 2001 by omitting income from his marijuana distribution.

Hayes and Watts face similar, related charges. Both were charged 
after the same 2002 raids that nabbed Rosenthal, but injuries 
sustained in a car accident have kept Watts from trial until now and 
Hayes fled to Canada just before he was indicted. 
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