Pubdate: Sun, 25 Feb 2007
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Josh Richman, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Rosenthal Expects More Than $300,000 In Legal Expenses From Trial To 
Begin In March

"Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal is bringing in another celebrity of the 
marijuana movement to help him raise funds for his upcoming federal 
trial.  Tommy Chong, of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo renowned for 
stoner movie classics such as "Up in Smoke" and "Nice Dreams," will 
appear at a $125-per-head event March 4 at Rosenthal's Lake Avenue 
home in Piedmont. Some advance tickets are available for only $100 
from 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 had 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 Advertisement 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 that 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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