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article image'Guru of Ganja' Convicted On Marijuana Charges

By Carolyn E. Price     May 31, 2007 in Crime
The self-proclaimed "guru of ganja", Ed Rosenthal, was convicted of illegally growing hundreds of marijuana plants that he said were meant to treat sick people. Apparently, state law in California allows that. So, what happened?
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer stopped Mr. Rosenthal's lawyers from telling the jury that the marijuana activist was working for a pot club sanctioned by Oakland government officials. His decision only highlights the divisions between federal and state laws in the 11 states where they have legalized the growing and distribution of pot for medicinal situations.
Rosenthal said outside the court: "We weren't allowed to give the jury valuable information it needed to make a fair and unbiased decision." Rosenthal was convicted on three felony charges and acquitted of one. There was a fifth charge, but the jury couldn't decide guilty or not guilty.
There is a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that says that marijuana is an illegal drug and federal law trumps state laws. This meant that Rosenthal did not have much of a defense. The jury was out for two days when they finally came back with a conviction on the charges of growing more than 100 marijuana plants, conspiring to cultivate the drug and maintaining a growing operation in a warehouse.
However, the 63-year-old won't serve any time in prison. In 2003, Rosenthal was convicted of the same charges and he was sentenced to only one day in prison. The reasoning behind the sentence that the judge gave was that Rosenthal had a reasonable belief that he was immune from prosecution because he was growing and distributing the pot on behalf of Oakland city officials.
An appeals court tossed out that conviction because of juror misconduct. The judge, in a fruitless attempt to persuade federal prosecutors to drop the case, has said he would not sentence Rosenthal to any more prison time.
More about Medical Marijuana, Guru, Convicted cultivation charges
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