Rosenthal convicted of 3 federal marijuana charges,
By Julia Cheever
May 30, 2007
Marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal was convicted in a retrial in
federal court in San Francisco today of three counts of growing
marijuana and conspiring to do so at an Oakland warehouse.
Rosenthal, 62, of Oakland, the author of more than a dozen books
about marijuana, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles
Breyer on June 6.
But he doesn't face any prison time because prosecutors have
said they won't seek a sentence greater than the one day in jail
and three years of supervised release that Rosenthal already served
in a previous conviction.
The jury acquitted Rosenthal of a fourth count of growing and
selling marijuana at a now defunct San Francisco dispensary and
deadlocked on a fifth charge that he conspired to grow marijuana
After the deadlock was announced, prosecutors dismissed that
Rosenthal said after the verdict, "I'm disappointed but
not surprised. The jury was not allowed to hear valuable information
it needed to make an unbiased and fair decision."
He contended, "This shows how flawed the system is when
the jury can't have the whole truth."
Rosenthal claimed outside of court he was growing starter plants
for patients needing medical marijuana under California law and
was deputized to help the city of Oakland in its medical marijuana
But he wasn't allowed to raise those arguments before the jury
because federal drug laws permit no exception for state medical
marijuana laws like California's Compassionate Use Act. The state
law allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor's
Rosenthal's attorney, Robert Amparan, said he will ask for a
new trial and if necessary appeal the verdict.
Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, the prosecutor in the case,
said he had no comment. Scott Schools, the U.S. attorney for Northern
California, had not issued a comment by the end of the day today.
In his previous trial in Breyer's court in 2003, Rosenthal was
convicted of three similar charges. The judge sentenced him to
one day already served on the ground that Rosenthal had a sincere
but mistaken belief that he was protected from federal prosecution
because he was helping the city of Oakland carry out a medical
In an unusual turn of events, seven jurors in the 2003 trial
later disavowed their verdict because they were not informed about
Rosenthal's role in medical marijuana.
The earlier conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court
last year because a juror improperly consulted a lawyer friend
Last fall, prosecutors obtained a revised grand jury indictment
adding nine tax evasion and money laundering counts to the marijuana
cultivation charges. But Breyer dismissed the financial charges
before the retrial, saying that they appeared to be vindictive
The three counts on which Rosenthal was convicted today were
conspiring to grow marijuana at a warehouse at 1419 Mandela Parkway
in Oakland between 1998 and 2002; growing marijuana there; and
using the warehouse for the purpose of growing and selling marijuana.
Bevan told jurors at the start of the trial that Rosenthal ran
"a large indoor sophisticated marijuana operation" at
the warehouse and that federal drug agents seized 3,100 marijuana
plants there during a raid on Feb. 12, 2002.
The verdict came after two half-days of deliberation Tuesday
afternoon and this morning.
The trial began on May 15 and consisted only of testimony from
prosecution witnesses, including federal agents and former colleagues
of Rosenthal's. Defense attorneys rested their case on Tuesday
without calling any witnesses and argued to the jury that witnesses
who received plea bargains weren't credible and that the prosecution
hadn't proved its case.
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