HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'Ganja Guru' Reindicted on Pot-Related Charges
Pubdate: Fri, 13 Oct 2006
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2006 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Josh Richman, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Rosenthal Says Feds Are on a Mission to Shut Down Every Dispensary in State

Oakland "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal was reindicted by a federal 
grand jury Thursday on a host of marijuana-related charges, roughly 
six months after an appeals court tossed out his earlier convictions.

The superseding indictment filed Thursday contains 25 counts against 
Rosenthal, 61, and two of his original co-defendants, Kenneth Hayes 
and Richard Watts. Rosenthal faces 14 counts including conspiracy, 
use of a place to manufacture marijuana for distribution, 
manufacturing marijuana for distribution, laundering money from 
marijuana sales, and filing false tax returns. "I knew they had a 
grand jury but I didn't know what was going to happen," Rosenthal 
said Thursday night. "What they're trying to do with these 
indictments and with my continued persecution is to close down all of 
the dispensaries in California, to deprive people of their medicine."

"It's not the way I planned to spend my time for the next year but 
I'm resigned to it," he said, describing himself as an "everyman" who 
won't be cowed. "Most people considering their circumstances for one 
reason or another are forced to give in under the weight of 
government pressure. I'm not only standing up for dispensaries but 
for all these people who've been harassed and hounded by the government."

But he won't let it ruin his life, either. "We're still going out to 
dinner tonight," he said wryly.

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.

He and his lawyers appeared before Breyer in August and September as 
prosecutors prepared to retry him on the original charges, even as 
witnesses were being subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating new charges.

Watts was arrested and charged in the same 2002 raids which nabbed 
Rosenthal, but injuries sustained in a car accident have kept him 
from trial until now. Hayes fled to Canada to avoid prosecution.

Thursday's indictment essentially claims Rosenthal from October 2001 
through February 2002 conspired with Hayes and Watts to grow 
marijuana at sites on Sixth Street in San Francisco and on Mandela 
Parkway in Oakland, laundered marijuana proceeds by buying four money 
orders totaling $1,854 during that time and falsified tax returns for 
1999, 2000 and 2001 by omitting income from his marijuana 
distribution. Hayes and Watts face similar, related charges.

"With these new more serious charges, I think I'll get even more 
community support," Rosenthal said Thursday. Citing recent federal 
raids of Bay Area, Modesto and Granada Hills dispensaries, he said 
his new indictment is part of "a concerted effort by the federal 
government" to crack down on medical marijuana.
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