HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Federal Jury In California Convicts Medical-Marijuana
Pubdate: Sun,  2 Feb 2003
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)
Copyright: 2003 The Santa Fe New Mexican
Author: David Kravets, Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO - An author of how-to books on growing marijuana and
avoiding the law was convicted of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy

The federal jury concluded Friday that Ed Rosenthal, the
self-described "Guru of Ganja," was growing more than 100 plants,
conspiring to cultivate marijuana and maintaining a warehouse for a
growing operation.

Rosenthal, 58, faces up to 85 years in prison when sentenced June 4.
Several people in the courtroom, including Rosenthal's wife and
daughter, wept as the verdicts were read by a court clerk.

"This was not a trial. It was called a kangaroo trial," Rosenthal, who
remains free on bail, said Friday as supporters chanted: "We love you,
Ed." The verdicts were a victory in the federal government's battle
against California's 1996 voter-approved medical marijuana law.
Rosenthal's arrest last year was among a string of Drug Enforcement
Administration raids on medical marijuana suppliers in California.

Under strict orders from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, Rosenthal
was never able to tell the jury that he was growing marijuana as "an
officer" for the city of Oakland's medical marijuana program.

Oakland's program and others throughout California were authorized
under a referendum known as Proposition 215. Eight other states also
allow the sick and dying to smoke or grow marijuana with a doctor's
recommendation. But federal authorities do not recognize those laws.

"There is no such thing as medical marijuana," said Richard Meyer, a
DEA spokesman. "We're Americans first, Californians second."

Jury foreman Charles Sackett III said outside court that jurors were
following federal law in finding Rosenthal guilty, but he hoped the
verdict would be overturned. "We had no legal wiggle room," Sackett

The government essentially portrayed Rosenthal as a major drug
supplier. Because federal laws trump state laws, Breyer ruled that
Rosenthal could not defend himself by citing Proposition 215.
Marijuana, under federal rules, has no recognized medical benefit.

Rosenthal said he's anything but a drug dealer, noting that the plants
agents seized didn't have buds, the part of the plant normally smoked
for a high. He planned to give out cuttings to seriously ill people.

A founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws, Rosenthal used to write the "Ask Ed" column for "High Times"
magazine, and has researched and written nearly 20 books on marijuana.

Millions of copies have been sold, mostly in the United States, with
titles such as "The Growers Handbook," "The Big Book of Buds," and
"Ask Ed: Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted."
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