Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2011
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Copyright: 2011 Metro Times, Inc
Author: Larry Gabriel


The Dean of Pot Growing Comes to Town

Ed Rosenthal has been the longest and strongest voice talking about
how to grow marijuana over the past 30 years through his "Ask Ed"
column in High Times and Cannabis Culture magazines. On top of that he
has written and published more than a dozen books on the subject, with
more than 2 million copies sold worldwide. What's he got to say for
himself after decades of growing, writing and teaching about marijuana?

"It was a major mistake," says the self-named Guru of Ganja. "I write
about marijuana a lot and people give me a lot of free marijuana. I
should have been writing about gold and diamonds - I wouldn't have
smoked up the take."

Rosenthal will bring that sense of humor, in addition to his enormous
knowledge of growing, to Michigan this month when he teaches seminars
June 23 in Traverse City and June 24 in Lansing. He teaches
horticulture at Oaksterdamn University, a cannabis industry trade
school in California, where his encyclopedic Marijuana Growers
Handbook is a textbook.

He sees marijuana law as a crucial social issue and has served as an
expert witness in a number of federal and state trials. In his book,
Why Marijuana Should Be Legal, he discusses why pot is illegal and how
to go about changing the law. The home page of his blog at is dedicated to legal issues and anti-drug war activism.

"I'm more impatient than ever with the laws and with the authorities
and their attempts to thwart the will of the majority of the people,"
Rosenthal says. "I've come to the conclusion that it's a jobs issue
for cops and for the whole criminal justice system. Spending on U.S.
marijuana prohibition is $30 billion dollars a year [various estimates
range from about $15 billion to $50 billion]. If prohibition ended,
those dollars wouldn't be part of the equation. Another reason
criminal justice doesn't want to give it up is because it puts so many
people under their control and in fear of them; they don't want to
give up the Prohibition model. The fight for medical marijuana and
marijuana in general is a political fight. We're tired of the security
state; we want our freedom."

Rosenthal has literally had to fight for his freedom. In 2002, while
growing marijuana legally under a medical marijuana distribution
program authorized by the city of Oakland, Calif., he was busted by
federal authorities. In the ensuing trial, the jury was not allowed to
know that his marijuana growing was sanctioned by the city. He was
found guilty, although several jurors denounced their verdict after
they learned the true circumstances of Rosenthal's case. Although
Rosenthal was only sentenced to one day's time already served, he
appealed the conviction and in 2006 the appeals court overturned it.
However, the judge ruled that Rosenthal could be retried but with no
additional sentence. In 2007, he was found guilty of conspiracy,
cultivation and using a commercial site for growing and distributing

Keeping the jury in the dark about a defendant's medical marijuana
status is apparently a tactic that's in common usage by prosecutors.
It has been used in getting convictions in Michigan medical marijuana
cases. Recently Barb Agro was found guilty of growing marijuana after
the jury was not allowed to know that she is a state-certified medical
marijuana patient and caregiver. Agro was scheduled to be sentenced
this week and her lawyer plans to appeal the decision.

Looking back on his own trial, Rosenthal says, "They know they
couldn't win a case if the jury hears it. The group that makes the
rules wins. They make these rules but I make my own rules. If I had to
do it all over again I would be my own lawyer. I couldn't have done
worse than my attorneys did. The deck was stacked against me.
Attorneys were too shy about doing things. I didn't take the stand.
Looking back, I think I would have taken the stand. The first thing
defendants should do when taking the stand is say, 'I am a medical
marijuana patient. The judge and the district attorney don't want you
to know but that that is the deal.' What are they going to do? Once a
jury hears it you can't put it back. It takes a brave person to do
that, but if you're facing serious time, why not?"

Rosenthal has been brave enough to be a marijuana activist when few others were willing. After growing pot in his home and putting together a growing system in the 1960s and 1970s, he began writing about growing marijuana. Spurred on by early success, he helped found High Times in 1974, where his "Ask Ed" column was featured from 1980 to 2000. Rosenthal founded Quick American Publishing in 1984 to publish books on marijuana. In 2010, books by Rosenthal and others, such as Aunt Sandy's Medical Marijuana Cookbook, by Sandy Moriarity, had sales totaling more than $1 million. Sex Pot: The Marijuana Lover's Guide to Getting It On, by Mamakind, scheduled for a fall release, may well bump the numbers up for 2011 with its one-thing-leads-to-another mix of fun activities. Rosenthal is also the executive director of Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund. Its stated mission is: To legislate the will of the people where it matters most - in !
the courts.

But his visit to Michigan is focused on growing marijuana. "I'm
bringing the message of how to cultivate great marijuana," says
Rosenthal. "If you are already growing, I can show you how to improve
your techniques. It's a very political message. What that message is
saying is that you're taking responsibility for your own health and
taking it out of the hands of the system."

But be careful, once you get started, you might not be able to stop. As Rosenthal warns early in the Marijuana Grower's Handbook: "Using marijuana may not be habit-forming or addictive, but growing it is."

For more information about Ed Rosenthal's Michigan seminars call
877-633-5945 or see

Medical marijuana advocates across the country have had cause for
alarm regarding the federal Department of Justice response to medical
marijuana facilities. Last week the DoJ sent a memo to U.S. attorneys
nationwide that calls for targeting "large-scale, privately operated
industrial marijuana cultivation centers." In addition, federal
authorities warned the city of Chico, Calif., not to approve a medical
marijuana dispensary ordinance. It looks like the Obama administration
is changing its perceived policy of going easy on medical marijuana
dispensaries. Its October 2009 guidelines said the administration will
not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as
they conform to state laws. The latest memo says no patient or other
user is protected from federal prosecution by state laws.

Last week state Attorney General Bill Schuette sent his own get-tough
message in an opinion saying that under the Michigan Medical Marihuana
Act dispensaries are illegal and the only protections under state law
are for patients and caregivers who grow in personal private
facilities. Sounds like tough times are coming down the pike for
medical marijuana supporters. 
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