Prosecutors to Appeal Rosenthal Sentence,
Defense to Appeal His Conviction

At the last possible minute of the last possible day, 5:45 p.m. on July 3rd, one month to the day since Ed Rosenthal walked out of federal court in San Francisco a free man, prosecutors filed notice that they intend to appeal the one-day sentence, credit for time served, that let him go free. They want 6-1/2 years in prison.

The defense team lead by Dennis Riordan will fight the government's appeal and file their own, challenging the three-count conviction itself. This battle is very expensive, but extremely important. The victories won so far are thanks to the generous support of people like you. With your support, Ed will be exonerated and the laws will be changed for everyone.

Green Aid assists cases that further the rights of medical marijuana patients. Can you help?

Medical marijuana rally at federal courthouse.

A jubilant crowd gathered outside the San Francisco federal courthouse June 4, 2003 after Judge Breyer gave medical marijuana provider Ed Rosenthal the shortest possible prison sentence.

Federal Judge hands down historic sentence: 1 Day

Federal Judge Breyer unleashed a cheer heard 'round the world when he used his power of granting a downward departure to reduce the mandatory prison sentence of convicted medical marijuana provider Ed Rosenthal from as long as 7.5 years. In a rebuke to the federal prosecution of Rosenthal, Breyer handed the Oakland caregiver the sentence of only a single day, time served for the day he was arrested.

Unbowed, Rosenthal criticized the judge for denying him a fair trial. Even as he spoke, an appeal was in process. Breyer noted the unique circumstances of Rosenthal's situation. For one thing he was operating as a deputy for the City of Oakland, a position that normally is afforded immunity from prosecution for handling controlled substances. (Although legal under state law, cannabis is a schedule one (banned) substance under the federal Controllled Substances Act.)

The judge also cited the contradiction between federal and state laws and the inability of Rosenthal to introduce his defense in court. Ironically, it was Breyer himself who disallowed those defenses, saying he had no choice but to do so based on the US v. OCBC case decided by the US Supreme Court in 2001. Those evidenciary issues are currently under appeal in an effort to overturn Rosenthal's conviction and allow others to dispense medical marijuana legally.

Rosenthal was one of a handful of medical marijuana proponents rounded up in the San Francisco area by the federal DEA on February 12, 2002, the same day that then DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson was in town to promote the federal Drug War. Instead of the warm support that he expected, Hutchinson found his address marred by a street protest in which the local District Attorney was prominently featured. During his talk, Hutchinson was confronted with an empty chair marked "Ed Rosenthal," and an angry barrage of questions from a hostile crowd.

More than 70% of San Francisco voters had supported Proposition 215, the state medical marijuana law, and they were in no mood for paternalistic federal bureaucrats. Although the crowd was peaceful, a heavy police escort surrounded Hutchinson as he left the Commonwealth Club that day.

Jury convicts, then apologizes to Medical Marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal

Ed Rosenthal is surrounded by his wife, Jane, and daughter, Justine, as the foreman of the jury that convicted him reads an apology to Rosenthal for the verdict. The marijuana grow-book author was deputized by the City of Oakland to provide medical marijuana for patients in accordance with state law. Despite these facts, he was charged under federal laws, The jury was not allowed to hear any evidence or consider any possibility that there had been medical use.

District Attorney Terrence Hallinan called the verdict an injustice and said that the federal government should change its policy and stop prosecuting patients.

Ed Rosenthal Convicted in Federal Court


On Friday January 31, best-selling author and longtime activist Ed Rosenthal was convicted of marijuana cultivation.

The charges related to work he'd done to help patients, even though he'd been doing humanitarian work as a deputized officer of the City of Oakland. He faces a possible 40-year sentence and millions of dollars in fines.

Ed is fighting this wrongful conviction, seeking a new trial and appeal of his conviction. But he needs help.

Green Aid assists with cases that further the rights of medical marijuana patients. This is very expensive, but extremely important. Please donate today!

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