HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Feds Take Aim at 'Guru of Ganja'
Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2006
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2006 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Josh Richman, Staff Writer
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Bookmark: (Rosenthal, Ed)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors not only are preparing to retry 
Oakland "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal, but seem to be searching for 
more charges to file against him.

Rosenthal, 61, was in federal court Wednesday for the first time 
since his 2003 convictions were overturned earlier this year. U.S. 
District Judge Charles Breyer ordered him to return Sept. 13, when he 
and attorneys will try to set a trial date.

"The government might want to take a hard look at this case, is my 
suggestion," said Breyer as the brief status hearing ended.

Outside, Rosenthal's attorney, William Simpich of Oakland, said he 
took that parting comment to mean the judge believes "this case 
should be terminated."

But William Dolphin, a spokesman for the Oakland-based medical 
marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said Wednesday at 
least two witnesses appeared under subpoena last Thursday before a 
federal grand jury in San Francisco that's probing Rosenthal's 
activities over a wider range of time than the original case included 
- -- possibly a prelude to new charges.

Those two people, who for now wish to remain anonymous, both invoked 
their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Dolphin 
said. They're to appear before the grand jury again today, perhaps to 
be offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony; 
this could leave them to choose between testifying or being jailed 
for civil contempt of court.

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 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. 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, finding 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. The court in July refused 
Rosenthal's requests for rehearing, or for an "en banc" rehearing by 
a larger panel.

Simpich told Breyer on Wednesday that Rosenthal's team of lawyers by 
Oct. 15 will file a petition seeking the U.S. Supreme Court's review. 
But Breyer said the 9th Circuit's Aug. 16 remand of the case requires 
that a retrial be scheduled within 70 days of that date.

Richard Watts of San Francisco, arrested and charged in the same 2002 
raids that nabbed Rosenthal, has not yet been tried. His attorney, J. 
Tony Serra of San Francisco, is serving 10 months in the federal 
prison at Lompoc for failing to pay income taxes and won't get out until March.

So Breyer on Wednesday ordered Watts to find a new lawyer by the 
Sept. 13 hearing or one will be appointed for him. 
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