Rosenthal sentenced for marijuana cultivation,
vows to appeal
"I have done nothing wrong"
By Julia Cheever
July 7, 2007
Oakland marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal was, as expected, sentenced
in federal court in San Francisco yesterday to one day already
served in jail for marijuana cultivation, even as he vowed a continued
Rosenthal, 62, told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer before
the sentencing that he wasn't apologetic about growing marijuana
in an Oakland warehouse between 1998 and 1992.
"I have done nothing wrong," he told the judge.
Rosenthal claimed he was growing starter plants for patients
needing medical marijuana under California law. But he wasn't
allowed to make that argument at his trial because federal law
makes no exception for state medical marijuana laws.
He told Breyer, "Had I not acted in the face of need I would
have suffered from a guilt that in religious terms is called a
sin of omission."
Rosenthal, the author of a dozen books about marijuana, was convicted
by a jury in Breyer's court in May of three counts of growing
marijuana and conspiring to do so at the Oakland warehouse.
The one-day sentence was expected because Breyer had previously
announced he planned to give that penalty - the same sentence
he gave Rosenthal for a similar 2003 conviction that was later
The judge's reason for the light penalty was that Rosenthal sincerely
believed he was protected from federal prosecution because he
was helping the city of Oakland carry out its medical marijuana
When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the earlier
conviction for unrelated reasons last year, it said the sentence
was reasonable and said it "would not be inclined to disturb"
Breyer's sentencing analysis after a retrial.
The 2003 conviction was set aside because a juror improperly
consulted a lawyer friend during deliberations.
Rosenthal said he plans to appeal the new conviction. Shortly
before the sentencing, Breyer issued a written ruling turning
down Rosenthal's request for a new trial.
Among other arguments, Rosenthal contended he was denied a jury
of his peers because people who supported medical marijuana were
barred from his jury.
But Breyer wrote in his ruling that he did not dismiss potential
jurors because they had views on medical marijuana, but rather
excluded only those who said their views would keep them from
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