Pubdate: Sun, 18 Mar 2007
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Josh Richman
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Ed Rosenthal)


Prosecutor Must Decide Whether To Appeal Ruling

A federal judge Friday gave a prosecutor one month to decide whether
to continue the government's case against "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal.

Judge Charles Breyer on Wednesday tossed out money-laundering and
tax-evasion charges against the 62-year-old former High Times magazine
columnist. The San Francisco-based judge said those new charges
amounted to vindictive prosecution after an appeals court overturned
Rosenthal's 2003 conviction on three marijuana-growing felonies.

Friday, Breyer granted Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan's request
for more time to contemplate his response to that ruling: whether to
appeal it to a higher court, proceed on the marijuana cultivation and
distribution charges that remain, or drop the case entirely.

The government already has said it won't seek more than the one-day
jail sentence Rosenthal already served for his original conviction
should he be convicted anew on the marijuana crimes. Breyer made it
clear Friday he'd like to see the case go away, suggesting the
government should weigh whether its time and energy, and the court's,
is best spent trying someone who already has served what would be his
likely sentence.

Breyer ordered everyone back to court April13 - a Friday - and
chuckled at the date's superstitious connotation. "I can't imagine a
better day," he said dryly.

Outside the courthouse, Rosenthal dared Bevan to continue the case,
claiming a trial would further expose the government's misconduct and
vindictiveness: "It would be foolish of Mr. Bevan not to go forward.
. I urge him to."

His lawyers, however, said they agree with Breyer that it should end

Famed for his marijuana cultivation books and the "Ask Ed" column he
wrote for High Times, Rosenthal's 2003 convictions came more than a
year after federal agents raided his Oakland home, an Oakland
warehouse in which he was growing marijuana, and a San Francisco
medicinal marijuana club he supplied.

Medicinal marijuana use on a doctor's recommendation is legal under
state law but prohibited by federal law, so Rosenthal was barred from
mounting a medical-based defense at trial. Breyer 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 compromised Rosenthal's right to
a fair verdict and thus 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 medicinal marijuana ordinance.

Prosecutors re-indicted Rosenthal in October, adding charges that he'd
laundered marijuana proceeds by buying four money orders totaling
$1,854, and that he'd falsified tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001 by
omitting income from his marijuana distribution.
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