Rosenthal Sentenced

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Diseased Strain

Well-Known Member
Jan 29, 2005
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Rosenthal Sentenced To Time Served, Fine And Probation; Supporters, Activists Pleased, Yet Ask 'What About The Other Medical Growers Serving Long Prison Terms?'

Ed Rosenthal, noted author and marijuana expert, was sentenced to much less than the mandatory minimum set by federal law on Wednesday, June 4, 2003. As reported by the Oakland Tribune on June 5, 2003 ( "Rosenthal Gets Slap On Wrist"), "Renowned marijuana activist and author Ed Rosenthal walked out of court a free man Wednesday after a federal judge sentenced him to just one day in prison -- time he already served -- for three marijuana-growing felonies. Medical marijuana advocates across the nation hailed the ruling as a major victory and the beginning of the end for the federal ban on the drug, even though the judge said the leniency shown Rosenthal won't be shown anyone who follows in his footsteps. And although elated by his reprieve, the self-styled 'Guru of Ganja' immediately cast himself as a Moses of marijuana, exhorting the federal pharaohs to let his people go so he can lead them into the promised land of legalization."

The judge made clear that, though he did accept the contention that Ed believed the City of Oakland's permission was sufficient to shield him, which justified the sentence reduction -- certainly it couldn't have been the enormous pressure of media and public scrutiny of this case, as even the NY Times editorialized in Ed's defense -- that future defendants would not be so lucky. According to the Tribune, "Breyer said Wednesday that he believed Rosenthal reasonably -- albeit erroneously -- thought the state and local laws immunized him from federal prosecution. Although not a permissible defense, the judge said, it is a mitigating factor that justifies an enormous reduction from the sentence Rosenthal otherwise would have faced. Yet no future defendant will be able to claim this good-faith belief in immunity, Breyer said -- the rulings and the extensive news coverage this case produced put everyone on notice that states and cities cannot shield medical marijuana providers and patients from the long arm of federal law. Two of the counts of which Rosenthal was convicted were punishable by five to 40 years in prison, the third by up to 20 years. A mandatory minimum of five years applied, but Breyer -- over Assistant U.S. Attorney George L. Bevan Jr.'s objection -- found Rosenthal eligible for a 'safety valve' exception to that minimum because he had a clean record, wasn't violent, didn't hurt anyone, didn't lead others in committing his crime and provided the government with truthful information. Breyer also overruled Bevan to grant additional leniency for Rosenthal's acceptance of responsibility for his acts."

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