|The Mandela of Marijuana?|
Posted by CN Staff on February 27, 2003 at 14:33:15 PT|
By Charlie McKenzie
Source: Hour Magazine
A blatant miscarriage of U.S. justice could make Ed Rosenthal, the self-styled "Guru of Ganja," into the Nelson Mandela of the international marijuana movement. U.S. embassies in Oslo, Paris and Norway have already seen demonstrations on his behalf and more are expected as his June 4th sentencing date approaches.
Rosenthal, who has authored several books and articles on cannabis cultivation, was recently convicted in San Francisco on federal marijuana cultivation and conspiracy charges.
The case was laced with controversy from the beginning as the charges stemmed from Rosenthal's deputation by the city of Oakland to grow medical cannabis for critically ill patients under the state's medical marijuana law.
Under strict orders from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the jury was not told that Rosenthal was growing marijuana as "an officer" for the city of Oakland's medical marijuana program.
The Oakland program and similar programs throughout California are authorized under the state's 1996 voter-approved Proposition 215, which allows the sick and dying to smoke or grow marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
Federal authorities do not recognize this law, nor do they think much of medical marijuana.
"There is no such thing as medical marijuana," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Richard Meyer.
Things took an even more bizarre turn when five of the jurors appeared with Rosenthal on the courthouse steps to denounce their own verdict, saying they had been deceived by the prosecution.
They were outraged to discover after the trial that Rosenthal had been working for the city of Oakland.
"I feel like I made the biggest mistake in my life," said juror Marney Craig. "We convicted a man who is not a criminal."
Rosenthal told supporters that he had "no regrets....Both the jury and I were victims of persecution, of an illegal government action."
Presently free on a $200,000 (U.S.) cash bond, he now faces five to 20 years in prison.
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