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Federal jury in California convicts self-described "Guru of
Ganja" of marijuana cultivation
Thu Feb 6, 2:58 AM ET
By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - An author of how-to books on growing marijuana
and avoiding the law was convicted of marijuana cultivation
and conspiracy charges.
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
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
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
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 said.
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
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."