Pubdate: Sat, 14 Apr 2007
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Ed Rosenthal)


Rosenthal Says, 'I May As Well Get My Money's Worth and Have a

SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors said Friday they would retry
Oakland marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal on five counts of illegal
cultivation charges -- even though he will face no jail time if convicted.

At a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer demanded to
know who in the Department of Justice made the decision to continue
pursuing Rosenthal, whose original conviction was overturned last year.

Rosenthal, 62, can't be sentenced to prison even if he is convicted
because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the one-day
prison sentence ordered by Breyer in 2003.

Newly appointed U.S. Attorney Scott Schools made the decision, said
Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, but he was not sure if
Department of Justice officials in Washington were involved.

The judge said the government's position to go forward left him no
choice but to hold a trial, which he scheduled for May 14.

"This isn't a criminal case, this is a political case," said
Rosenthal, who appeared in court dressed in a blue wizard'srobe with a
golden marijuana leaf emblazoned over the breast. "I may as well get
my money's worth and have a trial."

Rosenthal was convicted of three felonies in 2003 for growing hundreds
of plants for the city of Oakland medical marijuana program in a local
warehouse. Breyer sentenced him to one day in prison on grounds that
Rosenthal reasonably believed he was immune from prosecution because
he was acting on behalf of Oakland city officials.

His trial was the first to test growers' rights under a 1996
California initiative that allowed people to use marijuana to ease
symptoms of medical conditions.

The self-proclaimed "guru of ganja," Rosenthal has written numerous
books on marijuana. He also wrote an "Ask Ed" column for High Times

A federal appeals court overturned his growing conviction last year
because of misconduct by a juror who consulted an attorney on how to
decide the case. The appeals court also ruled against the government
and said the one-day prison sentence was fair, which means Rosenthal
doesn't face any more prison time even if he is convicted again.

When federal prosecutors indicted Rosenthal again on three growing
charges in October over the same marijuana operation, they also added
four counts of money laundering and five counts of filing false tax

But Breyer tossed out those additional charges last month, saying they
were solely to punish Rosenthal for winning his appeal to overturn his
initial conviction. Prosecutors said Friday they wouldn't appeal the
judge's decision to toss out those charges.

Bevan told Breyer Friday that the government's decision to retry
Rosenthal came after a "thorough and careful review."

A motions hearing in the case against Rosenthal is set for next
Friday, said Natalya LaBauve, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney.

One of Rosenthal's three lawyers, Shari Lynn Greenberger, said she
will ask the judge to award his legal team its fees for fighting the
money-laundering and tax charges. Federal law allows defendants to
seek attorneys fees if they've been wrongly charged by vindictive
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