Civil Liberties

Ed Rosenthal Blowback


Rosenthal, you may remember, is that pot activist convicted by a federal jury of growing marijuana, even though he was growing the plant for the city of Oakland, legally under state law. The federal jury wasn't allowed to hear any evidence about how Rosenthal was a grower licensed by Oakland, only that he broke federal law. The jury convicted him, then several jurors expressed their outrage when they realized what they had done. The sympathetic judge sentenced Rosenthal to one day in prison.

Rosenthal appealed, entirely out of principle. A federal judge overturned the verdict on the grounds of jury misconduct. Now, federal prosecutors are bringing the entire case again, with added charges against Rosenthal. He's clearly being targeted because he's a political supporter of reforming marijuana laws and because he stood up to the federal government in 2003, and won.

The good news is, the federal judge in the case is at least entertaining the idea that Rosenthal is being maliciously prosecuted:

A federal judge has asked the United States attorney here to submit all trial preparation memorandums in the case against a leading advocate of medical marijuana so that the court can determine if the government has been pursuing a "vindictive prosecution."

The judge, Charles R. Breyer, ordered the review at the request of lawyers for Ed Rosenthal, a spokesman in the effort to legalize marijuana who has been in a closely watched court battle with the government.

At a motion hearing in Federal District Court here on Friday, defense lawyers for Mr. Rosenthal urged Judge Breyer to dismiss an array of federal drug, money laundering and tax evasion charges against their client, saying an appellate court judge had overturned his conviction in a nearly identical case last year.

Drug warriors have made no bones about throwing the book at marijuana reform leaders to make a political statement. In 2005 , Karen Tandy put out a press release after the U.S. government successfully extradited Marc Emery from Canada on drug charges gleefully announcing that, "Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on." And federal prosecutors in the Tommy Chong case made sure to let jurors know that the actor had made a career "glamorizing the illegal use and distribution of marijuana and trivializing law-enforcement efforts to combat drug use".

NEXT: Tancredo's World

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  1. How did legalizing personal chemical use escape the first 100 hours of the new congress?

  2. They were too busy worrying about the type of plane that they use to commute across the country.

  3. Withholding such a vital detail such as this man holding a legal license is the very definition of kangaroo court. I can’t, for the life of me, see how someone with a shred of objectivism can ignore this.

    Obviously, these drug warriors are witch hunters. They make their living off of misinformation, ignorance, and hysteria. And some of these fuckers probably even think they are doing “good”.

  4. AOBP

    Are there mandatory minimums for “vindictive prosecution.”?

  5. Is Hon. Charles Breyer the brother of SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer (whom some would deem father of the federal sentencing guidelines)?

  6. I really couldn’t say it better than Mr. Nice Guy above.

    I’m a little bit shocked that Ed Rosenthal would appeal his case. God knows he could get years in prison for this shit.

    The problem with the drug reform movement, I’m sad to say, is cowardice. Everyone smokes their weed and the 90+ % of smart smokers just do it discreetly and never get caught.

    The government, the drug control bureaucracy (“narco-terrorists”), and the deranged puritans are a vicious crew. We have to face them in the streets and when they challenge us with firehoses and dogs, we will blow the sweet ganja smoke into their eagerly awaiting lungs. When they seek to shackle us like animals, placing manacles about our wrists, our bodies must go limp making them literally drag us to the prison gate.

    Or we could, you know, continue smoking it in our basements while watching CSPAN and pretend like none of this is even happening. That’s been my strategy thus far.

  7. They are doing good at keeping everyone misinformed and perpetuating the myths that they rely on for their very existance as drug warriors.

    If had he not had a legal license rest assured that would have been brought up immediately in court. What is the point of having a license if you can’t even mention it in court to defend yourself. Talk about kangaroo court, it is all witch hunts and no knock insanity now they have nothing left to try, everything else has failed and damnit they are good people not failures. You just need to learn to be good like them and do what they say.

    Tolerance remember..

  8. How did we get to the point where the prosecution can suppress defense evidence or witnesses at all?

  9. Peter F., yes, and both are Eagle Scouts.

  10. “Blowback”? Now there’s some blowback I can get behind!

    (Note to DEA: Just kidding!)

  11. A federal judge has asked the United States attorney here to submit all trial preparation memorandums in the case against a leading advocate of medical marijuana so that the court can determine if the government has been pursuing a “vindictive prosecution.”

    Isn’t the answer obvious? I mean, the whole drug war is vindictive. I suppose a judge has to look at the memoranda so as to “rule from the evidence.” Otherwise he could just listen to the news.

    Send him a copy of Reason.

  12. The prosecution of Ed Rosenthal is a perfect example of what I mean when I say the legal system is about tricks and legal technicalities. Sort of a strategic Chess game for lawyers to play for lots of money where any attempt to ascertain the truth is of only minor importance.

  13. The fact that Rosenthal has a license from the State of California means that the State of California should stand up for its citizens. The federal government’s beef should be with California. It is completely absurd to force private citizens to navigate the political pissing matches between the federal government and the states.

  14. Are you sure Marc Emery was extradited? I thought that was still up in the air… Did I miss something?

  15. In 2005 , Karen Tandy put out a press release after the U.S. government successfully extradited Marc Emery from Canada…

    Just nit picking here, but Mr. Emery is still in Canada. He was arrested by the RCMP at the request of the DEA/DOJ but is still fighting extradition to the US.

  16. Lamar – I completely agree. However. states are generally reluctant to force the fed’s hand on issues like this because the first move in the federal pissing match playbook is making your highway funding contingent on letting them win. They did it with seatbelt laws and with DUI limits. Losing federal money to make a point is a political loser.

  17. Marc Emery is still in Canada. However, Tandy did make a press statement the day he was arrested. She made no bones about the DEA’s objective “Today’s arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.”

  18. Rosenthal is lucky he wasn’t growing tobacco for use in… *shudder* cigarettes. Then he’d really be in trouble.

  19. “We have to face them in the streets and when they challenge us with firehoses and dogs, we will blow the sweet ganja smoke into their eagerly awaiting lungs.”

    Wouldn’t it be safer to shoot them?

  20. ED ROSENTHAL: A Legend in his Own Mind

    All this pissing and moaning about the conviction of yet another Dope Dealer.

    All dressed up in Sheep’s Clothing.

    But MOTHER TERESA he is not.

    All his adult life Eddie Roses has been:

    1) Growing Dope, Legal and Illegal, for fun and for profit.

    2) Encouraging thousands of others (mostly pubescent and pimply-faced) to break the Law by growing and smoking illegal weed.

    3) Smoking Dope every hour of every day of his life.

    4) When busted, even Eddie R had a Doc’s prescription for Medical Marijuana.

    A victim of Cancer, Aids, Near-Death Experience???—not Bloody Likely!

    Ed, and most of his clientele needed Medical Marijuana, like the rest of us need Medical Pussy.

    5) Was Saint Rosenthal giving away the fruits of his charitable life?

    HELL NO. Charging hundreds of dollars for his so-called Medicine to so-called Patients.

    6) Not to mention the fortune that he had amassed writing about Dope, Encouraging others to illegally grow Dope, Dealing, Smoking…and Rubbing the noses of Local and Federal Authorities in his polemics.

    Persecuted for his benevolence?—Hell, he’s been asking for it for decades.

    7) Eddie Roses has been a clever con-man all his life. Bronx Street Smartz.

    8) Even his old stomping grounds: HIGH TIMES had declined to include him in the inner circle of TRUSTED, LOYAL Employees—when it came time to split up the Estate left behind by the founder of the Magazine. The one that DEAR ED had been writing his advice column for so many years.

    9) “The City of Oakland had cannonized Me to perform my Miracles”.

    Well, as so aptly put by Gertrude Stein: There is no THERE There. No responsible Authorities, no supervision, no program to weed out the doperz and dealerz and excessive profitz, no compassion—no shit, Sherlock.

    10) We just want to know how long the teenage kid, living under the same roof as this Enabler of the Holy Weed, has herself been engaged in toking—and when will the Good Authorities from the Island of Oakland will be sending the Child Welfare bureaucrats to investigate.

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